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 Eastern Conference here. Onto the West.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Sebastian Driussi
  • Cecilio Dominguez
  • Alex Ring

Last summer, Austin used their final DP spot to sign Sebastián Driussi. It quickly looked like a good move then, and less than a year later, it's looking phenomenal. Driussi is firmly in the Landon Donovan MVP race and fits perfectly within Josh Wolff's tactics. It's all you can hope for from a DP signing.

A year ago, the DP group was a little different. It was Tomas Pochettino, but he was loaned to River Plate after a disappointing season, while Alex Ring was given a new contract, which bumped him up to DP status.

That brings us to their third DP: Cecilio Dominguez. He hasn't played since March 20 due to an MLS investigation into possible off-field misconduct stemming from a report of a domestic dispute with his partner. He was reinstated in May but hasn't played for Austin since.

Last week, Wolff was asked whether Dominguez had played his last game for Austin FC or not.

"He's training well," Wolff said, via The Striker Texas' Chris Bils. "I think his energy, his attitude has been good. We'll continue to do what we think is best for the team and when his opportunity comes, that'll be his opportunity."

If Dominguez leaves on a permanent transfer, Austin will have another DP spot open. If he leaves on loan they probably would, but it depends on the terms. For instance, Rodolfo Pizarro technically counts as a DP for Inter Miami this year even though he's on loan in Liga MX with CF Monterrey because there was no loan fee.

Watch this space, I guess.

Regardless, Austin are second in the Western Conference standings in only their second season in the league.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Moussa Djitte
  • Zan Kolmanic
  • Rodney Redes

Ring's new contract is below the max TAM threshold, meaning Austin could carry three U22 Initiative slots. Ring can be bought down off his DP spot, but Austin would need to sign a Young DP to still be allowed to carry three U22 Initiative players.

Djitte has been firmly down the depth chart up top, with just one start this year, as has Redes, who has played a total of 79 minutes. Kolmanic is still mostly the first choice at left back, though Jon Gallagher has provided good competition since changing positions.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Gyasi Zardes
  • Jack Price

The Rapids were clear in their desire to add a significant center forward during the Primary Transfer Window and eventually added Gyasi Zardes in a trade with the Columbus Crew.

Zardes, a consistent goal-scorer in MLS over the last half-decade and MLS Cup champion, gives Robin Fraser another option up top with Diego Rubio, Jonathan Lewis, Michael Barrios and others.

Jack Price is also currently a DP. Both players could be bought down.

The Rapids have a deep and eclectic roster, with a wide number of players around the max-salary/TAM territory, so they have a lot of flexibility. They are constantly on the lookout for undervalued talent who they think would thrive in their system, which they've done to great effect in recent years, culminating with topping the Western Conference last season.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Lucas Esteves
  • Max Alves
  • Gustavo Vallecilla

Colorado have made quick use of the U22 Initiative, filling their third slot this spring with the trade acquisition of defender Gustavo Vallecilla from FC Cincinnati. He joins Brazilians Max Alves and Lucas Esteves already on the roster.

Esteves just had his loan from Brazilian side S.E. Palmeiras extended through the season. Colorado still hold a purchase option.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Franco Jara
  • Jesus Ferreira
  • Alan Velasco

FC Dallas' offseason makeover is working to great effect over the first half of the season.

The club gave Jesus Ferreira a new, DP contract. New head coach Nico Estevez came in and put Ferreira as the No. 9 in his 4-3-3 (similar to the 4-3-3 the US men's national team play) and Ferreira went from deflecting questions about whether his goal output would ever match his xG numbers to leading the Golden Boot presented by Audi race halfway through the season with 10 goals.

Dallas took the incoming club-record fee for Ricardo Pepi and immediately used some of the proceeds for a club-record signing of Alan Velasco from Independiente. Pepi's transfer gave the team a bunch of General Allocation Money (GAM), which they used on a blockbuster trade for Paul Arriola from D.C United. They are fourth in the Western Conference with a 7W-5L-5D record (26 points).

For now, their DP situation is set, but Franco Jara's contract expires at the end of the season.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Szabolcs Schon
  • Joshué Quiñónez

Given Velasco and Ferreira are Young DPs, Dallas can add up to three U22 Initiative players. Hungarian international winger Szabolcs Schön is one, then Ecuadorian defender Joshué Quiñónez was added in March as the other. He's on loan from Ecuadorian side Barcelona SC Guayaquil; Dallas hold a purchase option.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Sebastian Ferreira
  • Hector Herrera
  • Teenage Hadebe

It's almost time for Hector Herrera in Houston.

After agreeing to a deal to sign him in the summer from LaLiga's Atletico Madrid, the Mexico international is in town and is eligible to debut July 9 vs. FC Dallas.

Club-record signing Sebastián Ferreira has six goals and three assists thus far, a solid return as the club are in the middle of a roster evolution following new ownership coming in last summer as well as a new front office and coaching staff this offseason.

Teenage Hadebe currently holds the third DP spot, but he can be bought down if the club want to make another big addition this summer.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Thiago Rodrigues

Brazilian winger Thiago Rodrigues is the club's lone U22 Initiative player right now. He is still settling into the team, with 19 minutes played across three matches so far.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Alan Pulido (season-ending injured list)
  • Gadi Kinda (season-ending injured list)
  • Johnny Russell

Injury luck has not been kind to Sporting KC. Their DP No. 9 (Alan Pulido, knee) and DP No. 10 (Gadi Kinda, knee) are each on the season-ending injured list without playing a single minute this season. The roster/salary relief for the season-ending injured list is not extensive, and they do not get the DP spot back.

As such, SKC had minimal flexibility, but were able to bring in a TAM signing (Erik Thommy) and a young striker (William Agada) ahead of the transfer window opening. Daniel Salloi's contract is expiring at the end of the year, so keep an eye on that too.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Marinos Tzionis
  • Logan Ndenbe
  • Robert Voloder

As for the U22 Initiative trio, all three were signed this winter. Peter Vermes spoke multiple times in 2021 that the club valued the new mechanism... but they had no one to show for it.

This offseason they changed that by signing three rising European talents. They'll be set in this category for a bit.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Chicharito
  • Douglas Costa
  • Kevin Cabral

The Galaxy opened a DP spot in the winter by moving on from Jonathan dos Santos and signed former Brazil international Douglas Costa to put next to talisman Chicharito and French winger Kevin Cabral.

So far in 2022, the Galaxy's three DPs haven't come close to maximizing potential in MLS play. Here are their goal involvements:

  • Chicharito: 6g/0a in 1,313 mins
  • Costa: 2g/0a in 757 mins
  • Cabral: 0g/0a in 882 mins

The Galaxy are still above the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line with 24 points in 16 matches (7W-6L-3D), with plenty of time to figure it out.

Cabral is a Young DP, allowing them to use all three U22 Initiative slots.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Dejan Joveljic
  • Efrain Alvarez
  • Julian Araujo

I wrote this in the winter in the original publication of this article, but I'm just going to say it again anyway: My favorite part about the U22 Initiative is how teams choose to use it. You can add three new players from abroad, sign academy products to lucrative new deals to keep them at the club for longer (and compensate them well), or a little of both. The Galaxy did a little of both.

They splashed $4 million for Joveljic, then gave academy products Araujo and Alvarez new, lucrative long-term contracts. Alvarez is still looking to find more consistency, while Araujo remains a key starter. Joveljic has been very useful whenever he's on the field, netting five goals and two assists in 305 regular-season minutes.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Carlos Vela
  • Brian Rodriguez

It's been quite the summer window for LAFC... before the window even opens.

Former Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale and Italy legend Giorgio Chiellini signed as free agents on TAM deals, effective when the window opens on July 7. Former MLS MVP Carlos Vela officially signed a new contract extension before his deal expired on June 30.

Oh, and the club are starting to create separation in the Supporters' Shield race. They are in first place by five points. And they still have a DP spot open.

One note on that: If Bale's contract is extended, he'll become a DP. So if LAFC do end up adding a DP this year, they'll have to keep that in mind. It may be around the time that Brian Rodriguez's natural progression is to move onto Europe or the DP signed now is under the max-TAM threshold.

That last point is key. Rodriguez is a Young DP, so even if Bale or anyone else takes the third DP spot, they can use all three U22 Initiative slots. If Bale becomes a DP and Rodriguez leaves, they need to sign a Young DP or one under the max-TAM threshold to use all three U22 Initiative slots, which is something they are very intent on doing.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Jose Cifuentes
  • Diego Palacios
  • Francisco Ginella

Speaking of the U22 Initiative, LAFC have gotten some of the best contributions from their group.

Jose Cifuentes is playing at an All-Star level and Diego Palacios has been a nailed-on starter. Both rising talents were signed after starring for Ecuador at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and both have graduated into the senior national team, helping lead their country to qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There's interest in both from Europe.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Emanuel Reynoso
  • Luis Amarilla

Just ahead of the Secondary Transfer Window opening, Minnesota United made a move to open the space for another big swing. Struggling DP forward Adrien Hunou was transferred to Angers back in his native France, ending a disappointing 18 months in Minnesota. The 28-year-old made just one MLS start this year before the transfer.

The club will take another at-bat to fill the third DP spot. They already have star Emanuel Reynoso as a No. 10 and Luis Amarilla as a DP forward. Where will the club focus their search for a DP?

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Bongokuhle Hlongwane

South African international forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane is MNUFC's lone U22 Initiative signing at the moment, with room for two more pending how the club fill the third DP spot.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Hany Mukhtar
  • Ake Loba
  • Walker Zimmerman

Nashville went into the season with an open DP spot, but locked down cornerstone Walker Zimmerman to a contract extension that makes him a DP. The USMNT center back has won MLS Defender of the Year in consecutive seasons with Nashville.

Hany Mukhtar also signed a new contract this season (with both moves announced ahead of the club's inaugural home match at GEODIS Park). He has been an absolute home run as well, finishing as a finalist for MLS MVP last season and is among the top contenders so far this year. In his last 48 MLS matches, Mukhtar has 24g/17a and carries a huge attacking burden for this club. He's irreplaceable right now.

Nashville's third DP is club-record signing Ake Loba, added to the team just over a year ago from CF Monterrey. The talented attacker has struggled to break into the team, appearing in 16 league games this season but not starting once yet. He has one goal in 256 minutes.

The club currently sits fifth in the Western Conference table at the halfway mark, just three points off second place.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • N/A

With all three DPs senior players above the max-TAM threshold, Nashville can use one U22 Initiative slot.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Jaroslaw Niezgoda
  • Yimmi Chara
  • Sebastian Blanco

After injuries limited their availability early in the season, both Sebastián Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda are back with a run of starts and the team is beginning to pick up more results.

Niezgoda is starting to look right again after an ACL surgery two years ago, and the same for Blanco, who was slowly ramping up from an offseason knee issue before he re-signed with the club after their loss to NYCFC in MLS Cup.

Yimmi Chara has been a constant in the team.

With Blanco making below the max-TAM threshold (per the MLS PA), the Timbers can use all three U22 Initiative slots.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • David Ayala
  • Santiago Moreno

Portland added midfielder David Ayala via the U22 Initiative in the winter. The Argentine youth international joins Santiago Moreno, who has blossomed quickly into a key starter for Gio Savarese.

The Timbers also plan to fill their final U22 Initiative slot. They looked into potential attacking additions at the end of the Primary Transfer Window, but opted to hold the spot for the summer. With Niezgoda and Felipe Mora back, will they revert to the original plan for defense-minded help with that slot?

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Jefferson Savarino
  • Damir Kreilach
  • Sergio Cordova

Real Salt Lake currently have all three DP spots filled, with a deadline day re-signing of Jefferson Savarino from Atletico Mineiro as their third DP, but it's just cap maneuvering right now.

On-loan forward Sergio Cordova can (very easily) be bought down to make room for another DP, as can Damir Kreilach. If RSL want, they can sign two DPs this summer but would have to be cognizant of Cordova's future. If he stays permanently, it's likely the purchase option makes him a DP.

Anyway. The point is RSL have great flexibility this summer for high-level additions to supplement a team already sitting third in the Western Conference.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • N/A

RSL had aimed to make Diego Luna a U22 Initiative player, but decided they could fit him onto the roster/cap without yet using a U22 Initiative slot. That could change this summer, of course, but for now, Luna isn't using a U22 Initiative slot.

They can theoretically add three U22 Initiative players this summer if they so wanted to, as Cordova/Kreilach are DPs under the max-TAM threshold.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Cristian Espinoza
  • Jamiro Monteiro

I'm leaving Chofis Lopez off the list, even if there hasn't been official communication about his future. His loan ends at the end of June (today, at time of publication) and there has been no update on an extension. It was widely assumed his time with the club would end here, so, it's a fair assumption, barring an unexpected announcement.

So, the San Jose Earthquakes almost definitely have a DP spot open again now.

Quakes CSO Chris Leitch got to use a DP spot this winter by trading for Jamiro Monteiro from Philadelphia Union and now will have another chance to keep rebuilding the squad as they head into a new era, moving on from head coach Matias Almeyda early in the season.

San Jose currently sit bottom of the Western Conference and are building for the future.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Marcos Lopez
  • Cade Cowell

San Jose entered the season with just Peru international defender Marcos Lopez for their U22 Initiative slots, then signed homegrown rising star Cade Cowell to a contract extension and moved him to the U22 Initiative.

"We very much value these roster spots, it's an area we're focused on," Leitch said this preseason when asked about DP and U22 Initiative slots.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Raul Ruidiaz
  • Nicolas Lodeiro
  • Albert Rusnak

The Concacaf Champions League champs! The decision to sign Albert Rusnák in free agency immediately paid off. They pushed their resources all the way in during the offseason, rather than holding more flexibility for the summer as they did in the past, and went out and became the first MLS team to win the CCL.

Job well done.

Now, they're not even in much of a hole that normally comes when teams prioritize CCL at the beginning of the season. They're already above the playoff line and just three points below hosting a playoff game. Save for some injury luck (star João Paulo out for the season, rising homegrown talent Obed Vargas out a while), the first half of the season could not have gone better for this club.

Nico Lodeiro looks like the elite-level player in this league we grew accustomed to after battling injuries in 2021.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Leo Chu

For now, Leo Chu is the only U22 Initiative signing. Rusnák's contract cannot be bought down with TAM, meaning the Sounders can only sign one U22 Initiative player.

DESIGNATED PLAYERS

  • Ryan Gauld
  • Lucas Cavallini
  • Andres Cubas

The Whitecaps used their open DP spot by signing Paraguay international Andrés Cubas. Though it's extremely early into his MLS tenure, Cubas is looking like money well-spent.

Cubas joins incumbent DPs Ryan Gauld and Lucas Cavallini, though they would need to sign a player under max-TAM or a Young DP to be roster compliant with all three U22 Initiative slots utilized. Cavallini is enjoying a renaissance of his own, with five goals and two assists in 13 appearances (10 starts). This is for a player that seemed destined to leave in the winter. Not so bad.

One more: Cubas' cap hit is under that max-TAM threshold, so the club are able to use all three U22 Initiative slots.

U22 INITIATIVE PLAYERS

  • Deiber Caicedo
  • Caio Alexandre
  • Pedro Vite

A full U22 Initiative list, the Whitecaps are looking for more from the group. Deiber Caicedo has been a regular, but Caio Alexandre has dealt with injuries over the last year. Highly-talented Pedro Vite has made three starts this year, appearing in a further seven matches off the bench.