The transfer news, it never stops. Especially not when the MLS Secondary Transfer Window opens, as it did July 7, offering teams the last chance to make big additions for the stretch run.
Here's a snapshot of the biggest news and moves from the last few days.
… and thus rendering Julian Carranza eligible to play for the Philadelphia Union against Inter Miami CF in Wednesday night's 2-1 road win. Just incredible stuff. But with the club operating under the impression that Carranza would be unavailable leading up to the game, Cory Burke was slated to start and did so even after Carranza was made available for just $500k in General Allocation Money (GAM), with Miami retaining a future transfer percentage.
This move should surprise no one. When originally acquired, I raved about how perfectly Carranza would fit with the Union. It’s worked out just as planned. The Argentine forward is defensively elite, one whose strengths suit the club's high pressing/transition nature and a two-forward system.
Carranza’s hat trick against D.C. United brought him to seven goals in just over 1,100 minutes. That’s on pace for a 15-goal season after a career where he had not previously passed 1,000 minutes nor scored more than four times in a league campaign. But the growth was expected in a new team with regular playing time.
The only surprise was the timing. Loan players are not permitted to play against their parent club, so Carranza would have been unavailable Wednesday had the move not been made permanent. Manager Jim Curtin also noted that Carranza’s purchase option had an automatic trigger once he hit 15 goal involvements. He currently has seven goals and four assists.
Last offseason, Philadelphia traded Kacper Przybylko to Chicago Fire FC for $1.1 million in GAM. He has returned only three goals for his new club. Sergio Santos had one goal in 600 minutes before the Union traded him to FC Cincinnati last week for $300,000 in GAM up-front with incentives worth close to $1 million in GAM. By comparison, Carranza stays for what could be a lot less.
Toronto FC had already traded away Alejandro Pozuelo (to Miami) to finesse open a DP spot to make the expected signing of Federico Bernardeschi before making more waves this week.
TFC acquired Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye from the Colorado Rapids for just over $1 million in GAM, Ralph Priso and more considerations. Then they agreed to the mutual termination of Carlos Salcedo’s contract, opening another DP spot.
First, Kaye. TFC patched together enough assets to meet the Rapids’ asking price, adding an in-prime Canadian international in a World Cup year. He also had the best period of his MLS career under Bob Bradley at LAFC… the coach (and system) he reunites with in Toronto. It’s a player whom TFC expect to be firmly within the core for years to come.
With Salcedo gone, Toronto once again proved they care not about sunk costs for the sake of improving the squad. An open DP spot will help a lot. Given their big swings over the last eight years, expectations should be high.
Toronto need defensive help, but teams rarely use DP spots on center backs. Salcedo was a DP center back and he didn’t work out. The attack seems largely set (once Bernardeschi officially joins). So where that final DP spot goes is an open question.
That leader is Austin FC. They’re looking to make a significant boost to the squad for the second half of the season as well.
Austin are closing in on signing Sao Paulo winger Emiliano Rigoni on a reported $4 million fee, first reported by ESPN Brazil. The Striker’s Chris Bils says it’s "99% done." That leftover 1%, ostensibly, is about freeing up the DP spot necessary to complete this move.
They need to resolve Cecilio Dominguez's future. The DP winger hasn’t played since being under investigation by the league into a domestic abuse charge. He was reinstated in May but still hasn’t played for the club since late March. He was at Q2 Stadium on Tuesday watching along as Austin beat Houston Dynamo FC, 3-1, in a Heineken Rivalry Week match.
Will it be a transfer, loan or contract termination? TBD. But Austin can’t sign Rigoni until a DP spot opens.
Rigoni, 29, earned two caps with the Argentine national team and has experience with Zenit in Russia, Atalanta and Sampdoria in Italy, and Elche in Spain. With Sao Paulo, he had 13 goals and nine assists in 69 appearances.
Colorado will be very active in this window. It started with a blockbuster trade to part with Kaye, once viewed as a foundational piece to this roster. He returns a diverse package of assets (see above).
The Rapids view Ralph Priso as a top young talent in MLS, aligned with their recruitment strategy of adding rising talent when they see value. Prior examples: Kellyn Acosta, Kaye, Lalas Abubakar, Auston Trusty, Gustavo Vallecilla and Jonathan Lewis.
Now what? Colorado have a number of big spots to fill. Trusty just left for Arsenal officially, Kaye is gone, Andre Shinyashiki is scoring goals for Charlotte FC and Aboubacar Keita is out for the season.
I’d expect numerous signings. General manager Padraig Smith said as much.
“It's folly, really, to look at these deals in isolation,” Smith told reporters over the weekend. “This is not the last deal we're going to make in this window. This is the first of what I certainly believe is going to be a very active window for us, and I think really what has to be done is it has to be judged in terms of the total package of what the overall situation looks like, what the roster looks like when we're finished making those moves.”
I reported about a month ago that Chelsea became the most likely destination ahead of Real Madrid for Chicago goalkeeping prodigy Gabriel Slonina and that it was getting closer.
Then Chelsea overhauled their front office and also worked on deals for Raheem Sterling, Nathan Ake and other in-prime, urgent targets. So, for a month, Slonina to Chelsea stayed “close".
Now, we’re almost there (again). Chelsea and Chicago are close on terms, as first reported by Fabrizio Romano and The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio. But sources say Chicago are still waiting for that official bid to come in.
The deal would include a loan back from Chelsea so the 18-year-old can stay at Chicago, where he’s the every-game starter.
One of the best forwards of his generation, coming off a season of 11 goals and three assists in 1,800 LaLiga minutes, Luis Suarez revealed he has “five or six” offers from MLS clubs and is considering them.
Suarez is cognizant of where it would (or wouldn’t) make sense to go ahead of the 2022 World Cup. The final day of the regular season is October 9. That’s the final game for the 14 teams who don’t make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Uruguay’s opening World Cup match is November 24. That’s a big gap.
"I'm not closing the door to anyone and I've listened to all the offers,” Suarez said during a Radio Sport 890 interview. “But if some MLS teams don't qualify for the playoffs, they end their season in the first week of October, and that's not useful for me because I would stop for a month ahead of the World Cup, which wouldn't be good for me."
Setting that caveat aside, Suarez would be a wonderful addition to any club who can make it happen. It’d be a team with an open DP spot (or who could open one), a good team and likely a bigger market.
LAFC and New York City FC come to mind as the most rational landing spots. LAFC have an open DP spot and NYCFC (I believe) can open one. They’d have a big need at center forward if/when Taty Castellanos departs.
Dealing with a seemingly endless injury carousel, Atlanta United had one big chip left to play in the summer: Their final U22 Initiative slot.
Despite star center back Miles Robinson, veteran defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso and starting goalkeeper Brad Guzan being out for the season. Despite current injuries to starting fullbacks Brooks Lennon and Andrew Gutman. Despite already having about $40 million worth of attacking talent between Josef Martinez, Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo, Marcelino Moreno and more. Atlanta signed Colombian winger Edwin Mosquera from Independiente Medellin via the U22 Initiative.
Mosquera, a Colombian youth international, is yet to score a senior professional goal in his young career.
The Five Stripes have already added goalkeepers Rocco Rios Novo and Raul Gudino, as well as center back Juan Jose Purata, ahead of the window opening, it should be pointed out.
Atlanta got back to winning ways on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake after a lopsided weekend loss to Austin FC prompted Martinez into emotional remarks to the media.