The 10 biggest moves of the 2021 MLS Secondary Transfer Window

Well that was fun, wasn’t it?

The MLS Secondary Transfer Window raced by last Thursday night, closing a player registration period that ran from July 7 through August 5. Perhaps you missed a few moves given the pace of it all, and that’s where our Transfer Tracker page can prove useful. Or maybe Tom Bogert’s deadline day blog is more your cup of tea.

Wherever you fall, here’s a rundown of 10 of the biggest Secondary Transfer Window moves GMs and decision-makers pulled off as the 2021 campaign passes the midway point.

Before we get underway (in alphabetical order), some honorable mentions are Austin FC forward Moussa Djitte (from Grenoble), Seattle Sounders winger Leo Chu (from Gremio), Portland Timbers forward Santiago Moreno (from America de Cali) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Pedro Vite (from Independiente del Valle) – all to U22 Initiative deals.

On the defensive side, there's also two left backs in Inter Miami's Kieran Gibbs (from West Brom) and Colorado's Lucas Esteves (loan from Palmeiras). Or there's even an intra-MLS trade that sent Corey Baird from LAFC to Houston and Sporting KC midfielder Jose Mauri.

Cost: Reported $2-2.5 million

Arango gives LAFC a natural center forward who can feature alongside the likes of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez. On paper, that should be enough to help the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners stay above the playoff line and outrace any defensive shortcomings.

Should is the operative word there, though, as the general consensus is LAFC have underperformed in 2021. We’ll see if Arango, who had 20 goals and three assists in 50 matches for Colombian side Millonarios, can push them over the edge.

Cost: Reported $11-12 million

Transfer reports around Atlanta zigged and zagged every which way, but club brass made clear they wanted to add a difference-maker in attack while looking to climb out of their early-season hole. Step in Araujo, who arrives as a Designated Player from reigning Ligue 1 title winners Lille OSC.

The 25-year-old Brazilian winger should round out an Atlanta attack that already includes Marcelino Moreno, Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco. If all goes to plan, the South American quartet provides enough firepower to reinstate the high-flying style the Five Stripes became known for while winning MLS Cup 2018.

Cost: Reported $7 million

Driussi is Austin FC’s highest-profile addition yet and arrives as their third DP alongside Tomas Pochettino and Cecilio Dominguez. He was last at Russian Premier League giants Zenit St. Petersburg and joins after the expansion side exercised a contract buyout clause the 25-year-old Argentine had.

Described by Austin FC as an attacking midfielder, Driussi can play almost anywhere in the final third. Layer in U22 Initiative signing Moussa Djitte and you can see the pieces of an at-times-floundering attack starting to come together.

Cost: $1.167 million General Allocation Money (GAM)

This deadline-day move represents a big opportunity for Ebobisse, a once-capped US men’s national team forward. He was traded from the Portland Timbers to the San Jose Earthquakes in an exchange that’s widely being hailed as a win-win for all parties involved.

Ebobisse gets the chance to play as a central striker after ample time out wide in Portland, and the No. 9 projects as a building block for San Jose as they chase a playoff spot. With 26 goals and eight assists during his Timbers’ career, Ebobisse has proven to be a reliable threat in MLS – something the Quakes need after mixed results on the international market.

Cost: Free agent, nominal fee to SC Farense

Ever since transferring In-Beom Hwang to Rubin Kazan in August 2020, the Whitecaps made clear their priority to sign a No. 10. Step in Gauld, a Scottish playmaker who lit up the Portuguese Primeira Liga while with SC Farense and also previously secured a high-profile move to Sporting CP.

The 25-year-old arrives as a Designated Player and is expected to be the missing puzzle piece to an attack that already features striker Lucas Cavallini and wingers Deiber Caicedo and Cristian Dajome. Long-term, Gauld has the upside to make Vancouver a consistent contender.

Cost: Reported $1.65 million

You don't often see a DP tag slapped on a center back, but that's what Hadebe got as he joined from Turkish Süper Lig side Yeni Malatyaspor. The Zimbabwe international's addition was announced by new Houston Dynamo FC majority owner and chairman Ted Segal in his introductory press conference.

All signs point to Houston betting on the 25-year-old Hadebe forming a long-term partnership with Tim Parker (28) in the heart of defense. Parker was acquired in the offseason from the New York Red Bulls, a trade that showed the club's strategy to build via intra-MLS moves.

Cost: Reported $4 million

When Greg Vanney is making comparisons to Chicharito, even if they're tepid ones, it's going to turn heads. That's exactly what the LA Galaxy head coach did late last week, noting "he has a lot of similar qualities to Javier."

In Joveljic, LA have a U22 Initiative signing and budding Serbian international who was last at Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. He's spent time on loan at Anderlecht (Belgium) and Wolfsberger (Austria), and now arrives in southern California to give LA another No. 9 alongside a revitalized attack that also features French wingers Kevin Cabral and Samuel Grandsir.

Cost: $1 million General Allocation Money (GAM), 2022 international roster slot

Kaye was sent from LAFC to the Colorado Rapids in a blockbuster trade that cost the latter a pretty penny. But it’s an understandable outlay that gives the Western Conference contender an impressive midfield that also features Jack Price, Kellyn Acosta and Cole Bassett.

Colorado have been one of MLS’ most underrated squads in 2021, and Kaye only improves their outlook. The 26-year-old Canadian international is an in-prime player who dictates the tempo and boasts a cultured left foot.

Cost: Reported $6.8 million

Loba is Nashville SC's club-record signing, joining in early July from Liga MX side CF Monterrey. The Ivorian forward is getting slowly worked in by head coach Gary Smith, but the 23-year-old DP's limited minutes have been promising so far.

After leaning on their defensive foundation in 2020, Nashville have proven to be more final-third dangerous this season. Is Loba, alongside the likes of Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal, the espresso shot the Music City club craves? He has that potential.

Cost: Reported $5 million

The Talleres-to-MLS pipeline continues with Navarro, a defensive midfielder who’s expected to add some bite and range to the Fire. It's a long-term play by Chicago, who have landed Navarro as a U22 Initiative player on a deal that runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026.

He’s a former Argentina U-19 national team player and is Chicago's second-ever U22 Initiative signing after they previously inked 17-year-old Colombian forward Jhon Jader Duran for the 2022 campaign. While Duran's arrival must wait, Navarro is expected to help the Fire push for a postseason spot this year.