The Secondary Transfer Window opens next week and runs from July 7 to Aug. 4. Where do all 28 MLS clubs stand in terms of Designated Player and U22 Initiative flexibility?

Just like the winter, this features some of my own reporting and understanding.

Quick housekeeping: These designations are fluid and ever-changing. Clubs value flexibility, so there are several players who could be moved on or off DP/U22 Initiative slots during the season. I'll note that wherever I can.

You can check out the Western Conference here. Onto the East.


  • Josef Martinez
  • Luiz Araujo
  • Thiago Almada

Atlanta's DP situation has long been sorted, with Josef Martinez, Luiz Araujo and Thiago Almada all settled.

Unfortunately, though, they have yet to have one MLS game in which all three start. Araujo had an injury at the beginning of the season, then Martinez missed some time and Almada is getting off a suspension.

Currently, this is the most expensive DP trio in the league, in terms of transfer fees paid. Almada was a league-record $16 million, Araujo up to $12 million and Martinez $5 million.

With Almada as a Young DP, Atlanta can utilize all three U22 Initiative slots.


  • Santiago Sosa
  • Franco Ibarra

ATLUTD's U22 Initiative situation includes some flexibility. It's their biggest chip to play this window, really.

Atlanta already made shrewd, low-cost/short-term additions of center back Juan Jose Purata and goalkeeper Raul Gudino to deal with their rash of defensive injuries. The club had targeted USMNT forward Matthew Hoppe with the U22 Initiative slot before the Primary Transfer Window closed. Will they aim for an attacking player or further defensive additions now?


  • Karol Swiderski
  • Kamil Jozwiak
  • Jordy Alcivar

While Charlotte technically have all three DP spots filled, the plan had always been to buy down Jordy Alcivar in the summer and sign another DP. With Kamil Jozwiak joining as a DP (for now), they would need a Young DP to arrive in that third spot.

The plan has been to sign an attacking midfielder as a Young DP.

“I don’t want to commit to whether it’ll happen in the summer, which is our aim, or January simply because the business of transfers is unpredictable,” sporting director Zoran Krneta told media at a virtual press conference in May. “We’re looking to add an attacking midfielder as a third DP, that’s our aim. But it’s something we’re careful about how we go about. We have targets, we’re talking to targets.”

There's not a huge rush. Sure, they'd love to add more talent but the front office has always valued flexibility and a long-term vision to not allocate all of their assets too soon. They're still in data-gathering mode. After all, they've played just 17 MLS games in their existence and made a coaching change three games ago. Jozwiak has started just two MLS games. They want to make sure the pieces fit and their needs are clear.

Let's see what happens this month.


  • Vinicius Mello
  • Kerwin Vargas

Charlotte also have one more U22 Initiative slot open, behind Brazilian forward Vinicius Mello and Colombian winger Kerwin Vargas. Mello is yet to debut with an injury and Vargas looked electric in his first two appearances off the bench but has been unavailable for a bit as well.


  • Xherdan Shaqiri
  • Jairo Torres
  • Gaston Gimenez

It was a winter of change for the Chicago Fire (again), but unfortunately it hasn't come together yet.

With a positive start, the bottom fell out after a few games and the club sunk to last place in the Eastern Conference. They still haven't had their full, best XI out there for a run of games with Xherdan Shaqiri hurt for a stretch and Jairo Torres only starting once so far.

All three DP spots are sorted for now, though. The club also added Chris Mueller just before the end of the Primary Transfer Window, so the pieces are there.

Gaston Gimenez's contract expires after the season, it should be noted. Also with Torres a Young DP, Chicago can use up to three U22 Initiative slots.


  • Federico Navarro
  • Jhon Duran

Chicago have plenty of young talent domestically (homegrown product Gabriel Slonina headlines that), plus U22 Initiative signings Federico Navarro and Jhon Duran from abroad.

With all three DP spots filled and allocation money used to acquire Mueller, perhaps their last path at a significant addition this summer is via that third U22 Initiative slot. Or they can retain flexibility for the offseason.


  • Luciano Acosta
  • Brenner
  • Obinna Nwobodo

The FC Cincinnati rebuild is in full effect and is ahead of schedule, with FCC in the thick of an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs race.

New general manager Chris Albright and head coach Pat Noonan inherited a Cincy roster that offered little by way of flexibility, particularly at the top end, with many roster assets committed by the previous regime(s). Still, Noonan's playstyle has put Brandon Vazquez at a new level (though he started his fine run of form last year) and turned Luciano Acosta into a Best XI-caliber player (again).

Beyond that, they were indeed able to bring in their first DP: Defensive midfielder Obinna Nwobodo. He is very much looking like a shrewd signing.

Albright was pretty direct in sharing his excitement about the potential expenditure afforded this team in Cincy who, despite being bottom of the league for their first three seasons in the league, have taken big swings with Brenner ($13 million transfer fee) and Jurgen Locadia ($10 million purchase option they would have picked up if he stayed).

Expect more change this summer as new leadership shapes the side.


  • Issac Atanga
  • Alvaro Barreal

Speaking of change, Cincy also maneuvered open a U22 Initiative slot with the trade of Gustavo Vallecilla to the Colorado Rapids. That's a high-leverage slot for this club, who paid a $5 million fee for Isaac Atanga.


  • Lucas Zelarayan
  • Darlington Nagbe
  • Cucho Hernandez

The Columbus Crew took another big swing this spring, likely wrapping up their key summer shopping with the club-record acquisition of Cucho Hernandez from Watford on a deal worth around $10.5 million. He joins previous club-record signing Lucas Zelarayan to form what the club hope will be among one of the best attacking duos in the league.

The DP spot was opened by the trade of Gyasi Zardes to Colorado.

With Darlington Nagbe all set as well (he has a contract option for next year but that's going to be picked up), the club are locked into these three DPs for the foreseeable future.

Hernandez was signed as a Young DP, so the Crew could add another two U22 Initiative players. I'm not sure exactly how or when the 23-year-old Hernandez will have to be moved off the Young DP spot though.


  • Alexandru Matan

That takes us to the U22 Initiative. Alexandru Matan is the club's only U22 Initiative signing right now, though they can afford two more (again, depending on how long Hernandez is classified as a Young DP).


  • Taxi Fountas

The team in MLS perhaps most likely to have a significant top-of-the-roster change this summer, D.C. United are in the middle of a roster evolution on the fly.

Greek international Taxi Fountas was signed this spring, joining earlier than the originally planned July 7, as United reached a compensation agreement with his former club, Austria's Rapid Vienna, allowing him to join immediately. Edison Flores was just transferred out to Liga MX's Atlas FC, opening a second DP spot for the club as they aim to make significant signings at the top of the roster.

German attacking midfielder Sonny Kittel nearly joined, but that deal fell through at the last moment.

Keep an eye on D.C. United transfer news this month. It might be a whirlwind.


  • Chris Durkin

D.C. United added former homegrown standout Chris Durkin in a transfer back from Belgian First Division A side Sint-Truidense V.V., using their first U22 Initiative slot on the midfielder. He's made seven starts since returning in the spring.

They can add two more.


  • Gonzalo Higuain
  • Rodolfo Pizarro*

Due to the DP rules, Rodolfo Pizarro technically still counts as a DP for Miami despite the fact that he currently does not play for Miami, as he's on loan at Liga MX's CF Monterrey. There was no loan fee provided by Monterrey, which plays into why he still counts as a DP (but Miami get to absolve his contract hit from the budget). It's all very confusing but the bottom line is Pizarro is still occupying a DP spot.

Gonzalo Higuain has the other. He has been firmly benched for a couple months, second choice to Leonardo Campana. Miami have a club option for Higuain in the winter, so they could open another DP spot. Plus who knows what the future holds for Pizarro.

Back to the task at hand this summer: Will they add a big DP? Or a couple TAM-level additions? We'll see.

Hey, don't forget about those Lionel Messi 2023 rumors...


  • Leonardo Campana
  • Emerson Rodriguez

Inter Miami can sign another U22 Initiative player, a useful mechanism given their cap constraints as these players hit the budget at a fixed, low cost. Campana, in particular, has been an absolute home run, displacing Higuain.

Miami hold a purchase option for him from English Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers.


  • Victor Wanyama

Just one DP for CF Montréal in defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama, who is out of contract after the season.

The club have been one of the most fun teams to watch under Wilfried Nancy the last 18 months, currently sitting third in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

I maintain my plea that this team has a real chance to move up a tier in the East if they add just one more high-level DP signing (provided Djordje Mihailovic is still here, of course). Imagine what a Nacho Piatti/Didier Drogba/Saphir Taider-type DP could do for this squad?


  • Matko Miljevic
  • Sunusi Ibrahim
  • Robert Thorkelsson

All three U22 Initiative slots are taken, meaning if Montréal do indeed add a DP or two, one would have to be a Young DP.


  • Carles Gil
  • Gustavo Bou

Adam Buksa is out in a transfer to Ligue 1's RC Lens, opening up a third DP spot for the New England Revolution. It also ends the era of the league's most productive goal-scoring DP trio.

Reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP Carles Gil is still here, so is Gustavo Bou. They have plenty of firepower in attack and plan to use that third DP spot ASAP.

The Revs signed Jozy Altidore in the winter, ostensibly as insurance for a potential Buksa transfer. Will the third DP be another center forward (like Buksa) or will they look for a different position?

EDIT: Per a source, New England are poised to sign Albanian international and Juventus forward Giacomo Vrioni as a DP. That settles that.


  • Dylan Borrero

So far, New England's first U22 Initiative signing has been extremely successful. Dylan Borrero, a dynamic Colombian winger signed for $4 million, has been exactly what the Revs' attack was missing since Tajon Buchanan was transferred to Belgian side Club Brugge.

Vrioni won't be a Young DP, meaning New England can't add two more U22 Initiative players.


  • Luquinhas
  • Patryk Klimala

Luquinhas is a midseason favorite to win Newcomer of the Year, a fantastic start to life in MLS after a winter move. He, and the foundation already set and laid by the club in this era under Gerhard Struber, has them up near the top of the Eastern Conference.

One more high-level DP might put them over the top. They have the space for it, if they so choose. New head of sport Jochen Schneider is in place for his first transfer window since officially taking the job earlier this month, replacing Kevin Thelwell, who is now sporting director at Everton.

With Patryk Klimala as a Young DP, the club could use their final DP spot for any age/financial profile and still keep the use of all three U22 Initiative slots.


  • Andres Reyes
  • Lucas Monzon
  • Dru Yearwood

RBNY have all three U22 Initiative slots taken up, though it's possible they could do some maneuvering to open another up if they so chose. Dru Yearwood was previously a Young DP for the Red Bulls (arriving before the U22 Initiative was in effect).


  • Talles Magno
  • Thiago Martins
  • Maxi Moralez

Reigning MLS Cup champions NYCFC have all three DP spots filled and sorted at the moment, led by rising star Talles Magno, smooth veteran Maxi Moralez and defender Thiago Martins, signed this winter.

Looming over all of this is the future of non-DP Taty Castellanos. If he goes this summer, what would have already been an incredibly difficult task of replacing the league's 2021 Golden Boot presented by Audi winner becomes that much more difficult without a DP spot.

NYCFC just lost head coach Ronny Deila, who took the managerial gig at Standard Liege. Previous assistant coach Nick Cushing is now serving as interim manager.


  • Thiago Andrade
  • Nicolas Acevedo
  • Santiago Rodriguez

Just as last year, NYCFC keep all three U22 Initiative slots filled. Sporting director David Lee has been direct about the importance of utilizing the mechanism.

​​“That was clear for us, that was going to be the strategy,” Lee told last fall. “There was never any consideration to add two (senior) DPs. We knew we wanted to add three players into this category. We firmly believed it would help long-term building a strong roster this year and years to come.”


  • Facundo Torres
  • Ercan Kara
  • Mauricio Pereyra

New ownership took over in the summer and immediately opened new budgets for the front office, which got moving on a club-record deal to acquire Facundo Torres from Uruguayan first division side Peñarol. Ercan Kara joined from Rapid Vienna as well, while Mauricio Pereyra signed a new contract.

Head coach Oscar Pareja is still working to find the group's top level on a consistent basis, but Orlando are firmly above the playoff line and are just four points off the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They're right in the thick of it and seemingly have another level to hit. Not too bad.

Torres has 2g/5a, Kara with 6g/2a and Pereyra contributing 0g/8a so far.

There's no changes coming for this DP group until at least the winter (if at all).


  • Andres Perea
  • Cesar Araujo
  • Gaston Gonzalez (season-ending injured list)

Orlando are using all three U22 Initiative slots, including Uruguay youth international Cesar Araujo, who immediately won a starting spot. He's been a revelation immediately, with his signing flying under the radar a bit with Torres/Kara replacing Nani/Daryl Dike.

Gaston Gonzalez is on the roster but was announced out for the season before even arriving in Orlando. He was playing in his final game in Argentina before traveling to the United States, where he tore his ACL. Brutal timing. The move still went through and he's been placed on the season-ending injured list.


  • Mikael Uhre
  • Julian Carranza

The Union came so very close to starting the season with three DPs for the first time ever, but a trade of Jamiro Monteiro to the San Jose Earthquakes leaves one spot open behind Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza. Both of those forwards were added this winter.

Uhre, their club-record signing, hasn't found his top form just yet, but he has had to deal with some minor injuries following visa issues that delayed his travel to the United States and cost him all of preseason. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, as with most players coming for their first season in the league.

Carranza, meanwhile, is on loan from Inter Miami but there's a purchase option in the deal so he might (probably?) be here for the long-term.


  • N/A

At the time of writing, Philadelphia don't yet have a U22 Initiative player.

At some point in the future, they may do what the Galaxy did with Julian Araujo and Efrain Alvarez and use some of those U22 Initiative slots to re-sign burgeoning academy talent to lucrative contract extensions. We’ll see.


  • Alejandro Pozuelo
  • Carlos Salcedo
  • Lorenzo Insigne

It's time. After officially signing the Italian national team winger in the winter on a pre-contract, Lorenzo Insigne will soon debut in MLS for Toronto FC.

It's a hugely exciting time for the club, who have been trying to overhaul the roster under Bob Bradley as quickly as possible.

Carlos Salcedo cannot be bought down but Alejandro Pozuelo is in the final year of his contract. The club have been noncommittal about the 2020 MLS MVP's future. That's one to watch for this winter.


  • Ayo Akinola

Homegrown attacker and Canadian international Ayo Akinola is the club's lone U22 Initiative player. They cannot add another because their DP situation is filled with senior players making above the maximum TAM charge.