In a fast-paced world, it's never too early to start weighing up the effectiveness of transfer window signings, so that's precisely what we're doing in selecting the best quick-fixers from the summer market.
Most clubs will probably be measuring their excitement over instant rewards and their concern over early strugglers in order to maintain a longer view of their most recent roster additions. Yeah, forget all that. We have no club chairman to finesse and hearty Audi MLS Cup Playoff races are afoot. We demand instant satisfaction and thus are going to talk about the summer catches that are having the biggest fast bang for the buck less than eight weeks past the market close.
As a quick reminder, this year’s MLS Secondary Transfer Window ran from July 7 through August 5.
• Signed: August 2 from Colombia's Millonarios FC
• Cost: Reported $2-2.5 million
Sure, LAFC are talented enough to get by without a proper central striker for a time. We've all seen it, often with one of their terrifying wide threats sliding over to compensate. Of course, we've also seen that this club is usually at their best when they have line leaders like Adama Diomande or Bradley Wright-Phillips plowing the road and finishing plays.
Arango isn't a carbon copy of either of those players, but he's having a similar impact. He's already tied for the team lead in goals (6) despite having played just under 700 minutes, and LAFC have been more consistently menacing since the 26-year-old took over the center forward spot in earnest late last month. One could correctly note that half his goals have come from the spot, but considering the Black & Gold are in a real playoff scrap, let's not sneeze at going three-for-three with conversions that either brought them level or gave them a lead.
• Signed: August 6 from France's Lille OSC
• Cost: Reported $11-12 million
Atlanta United were already starting to turn things around in mid-August, but they still needed that extra oomph for an attack too often charged with outscoring the defense's bad days. Araujo was the club's big summer swing, and so far he's been an extra-base hit as they rally for a playoff position.
While the Brazilian winger has been slow to make the score sheet (just 1g/1a in seven games so far), his drink-stirring effect has been impressive. It had been a spell since the Five Stripes had someone to routinely break down defenses on the dribble, but Araujo has immediately given them one of the league's best dribble wizards. It's not all show, either, as the 25-year-old DP signing is firing off a team-high 3.90 shots per 90 minutes while also creating another 4.24 shots per 90 for others.
• Signed: July 29 from Russia's Zenit St. Petersburg
• Cost: Reported $7 million
In all fairness, we could probably make this a cheat pick by including center forward Moussa Djitte, as Austin FC were sorely missing two pieces in attack. The U22 Initiative signing is a big puzzle piece for head coach Josh Wolff's vision but hasn't played much, so we'll stick with their big summer splurge.
Driussi has come exactly as advertised as a player (even if, largely thanks to major second-half defense issues, the wins are still only trickling in for the club). The Argentine DP’s quality-over-quantity playmaking style already has him at or near the top of the team's chance creation rate charts and his dastardly late runs have netted three goals and four assists in 10 outings. Most importantly, he's the facilitator for an attack that averages nearly twice as many xG with him on the field as they did before he arrived.
• Signed: July 31 from Portugal's SC Farense
• Cost: Free agent, nominal fee
We've talked a lot about new recruits bringing missing attributes to a team, and yes, the Whitecaps have more ideas against set defenses with Gauld on board. But what the Scotsman has really done is make what were already Vancouver's strengths even scarier to opponents.
The 25-year-old has given one of the best set-piece attacks in MLS an ace restart delivery man, and now one of the most troublesome counters in MLS has a wily traffic director to pick the right breakout passes. The Whitecaps have gone 5-1-3 since he debuted to bang on the door of the Western playoff slots.
• Signed: July 27, trade with LAFC
• Cost: $1 million General Allocation Money (GAM), 2022 international roster slot
We probably don't even need to go into most of the ways that the Canada international has helped Colorado since coming over in a July trade. You surely would have guessed that Kaye will help the Rapids gain better control of midfield, and thus of games – and you'd now be quite right. He's done that in his usual central park micro-management manner, and the club is 4-0-5 since he joined up.
What most folks wouldn’t have guessed is that the 26-year-old has added another layer to his game in Colorado. Kaye is having much more say in the final third than he ever did with LAFC. He's essentially doubled his rates for key passes and expected assists, plus nearly doubled his shot creation rate, since putting on a Rapids shirt.