Clubs are in full roster construction mode for the 2023 season, scouting and looking to get deals – both domestic and international – over the line.
As fans clamor for news, let’s spotlight some signings from the 2022 campaign where teams struck gold. Trades, transfers and frees were all considered.
Here’s the Western Conference version (all 14 teams). The Eastern Conference version (with its 14 teams) can be found here.
- Date signed: January 24, 2022
- Past club: Toulouse (France)
This Norwegian center back patched up Austin’s porous defense from their expansion season (2021), forming a solid partnership with Julio Cascante.
Gabrielsen had 2g/2a in 33 games, helping the second-year club reach the Western Conference Final in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Date signed: April 22, 2022
- Past club: Columbus Crew (MLS)
Zardes’ time in Colorado was short-lived, signing with Austin in free agency earlier this week. Yet the USMNT pool striker made a big impact, finishing as their second-leading scorer (9g/2a) after arriving midseason from the Crew.
The Rapids have long used the MLS trade market to enhance their roster, and there weren’t a ton of splashy (or big-name international) moves to choose from in 2022. They’re often finding value in unheralded places.
- Date signed: January 26, 2022
- Past club: D.C. United (MLS)
Dallas shelled out to land Arriola, setting a domestic trade fee record last winter when sending D.C. United $2 million in General Allocation Money (GAM) for the winger. It was worth every penny.
He was FCD’s second-leading scorer with 10g/7a in 32 games, forming a dangerous trio alongside Jesus Ferreira and Alan Velasco as the club returned to the playoffs. The only downside for Arriola was getting snubbed for a USMNT roster spot.
- Date signed: January 18, 2022
- Past club: Club Libertad (Paraguay)
Ferreira was a bright spot as Houston missed the playoffs and changed their coach, tallying a team-leading 13g/3a in 31 games. The club-record signing and Paraguay international should be even more productive in 2023.
Houston made a much bigger splash when landing Mexican international midfielder Hector Herrera on a free from LaLiga powerhouse Atletico Madrid. But HH played just 682 minutes; Ferreira was far more impactful.
- Date signed: January 12, 2022
- Past club: Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
LAFC stole headlines all summer when adding the likes of Gareth Bale (ex-Real Madrid) and Giorgio Chiellini (ex-Juventus), international stars who – quite remarkably – didn’t require DP tags. But a player from their league-experience-heavy winter transfer strategy was the most significant difference-maker in completing the MLS Cup/Supporters’ Shield double.
Ilie was indispensable in the No. 6 role, playing a captain-like role and letting their big names shine. The Spaniard, now age 32, arrived in free agency after last playing for SKC.
- Date signed: August 4, 2022
- Past club: FC Barcelona (Spain)
Puig was once called the “next Iniesta” when coming through Barca’s famed La Masia academy. That perhaps-unfair comparison never panned out, but his skill and energy make him a premier MLS playmaker – one with Best XI potential.
The 23-year-old Spaniard had 3g/5a in 10 games last season, pushing LA back into the playoffs alongside two fellow summer signings of Uruguayan descent: midfielder Gaston Brugman and defender Martín Cáceres.
- Date signed: February 19, 2022
- Past club: Vélez Sarsfield (Argentina)
Will Amarilla ever live up to the single-season 25-goal mark he vowed to hit during his first Minnesota stint in 2020? Perhaps not, but the Paraguayan international is still an impactful No. 9 for the Loons.
He had 9g/5a in 33 games this past season and should increase production next year with more consistency in front of goal. Having Emanuel Reynoso pulling the strings sure helps.
- Date signed: July 19, 2022
- Past club: Tenerife (Spain)
Nashville’s pursuit of Moore wasn’t exactly a secret, and they got the deal over the line during the Secondary Transfer Window. Now, Nashville have a top-end MLS right back signed for the long term who just represented the USMNT at the World Cup.
A strong honorable mention: center-mid Sean Davis arrived in free agency from New York Red Bulls. He played all but around 200 minutes.
- Date signed: January 13, 2022
- Past club: Portland Timbers (MLS)
Portland imported several U22 Initiative players with great promise, including Argentine midfielder David Ayala and Colombian fullback Juan David Mosquera. But their most impactful transfer business centered around returning pieces of their MLS Cup 2021 runner-up squad.
From that latter group, nobody was more crucial than Slovenian goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic after Steve Clark departed for Houston in free agency. Ivacic had a breakout season in 2022 after being out of contract; he was a huge reason why the Timbers remained in playoff contention until Decision Day.
- Date signed: May 4, 2022
- Past club: Atletico Mineiro (Brazil)
Savarino returned to MLS last spring from Brazil’s top flight, becoming the first DP acquisition under RSL's new ownership group. The Venezuelan international winger certainly made his mark, too.
Savarino finished with 7g/6a in 19 games, the most goal contributions on the team. Across a full season in 2023, he could feasibly hit 20+ goal contributions.
- Date signed: February 14, 2022
- Past club: Philadelphia Union (MLS)
The Cape Verdean international had a few strong seasons in Philadelphia, then was traded to San Jose for just up to $450k in GAM and an international roster spot.
That outlay was worth it, as Monteiro had 4g/7a in 31 games. Odds are he’ll be an important piece under new head coach Luchi Gonzalez after the Earthquakes' last-place finish in the Western Conference.
- Date signed: January 13, 2022
- Past club: Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Rusnak going from RSL to Seattle in free agency made waves, the splashiest use of that roster-building mechanism (to date) when the deal got completed last winter.
The Slovakian international played all across the Sounders’ midfield, helping them capture a historic Concacaf Champions League title. Rusnak had 3g/2a in 32 games, providing crucial minutes as injuries stacked up around him during the club’s first-ever playoff-less campaign (13-year streak snapped).
- Date signed: June 23, 2022
- Past club: Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel)
This Nigerian striker arrived last summer amid little fanfare, then took MLS by storm. He provided 8g/2a in 12 games, giving SKC a considerable lift alongside fellow midseason signing Erik Thommy.
With DP striker Alan Pulido returning from a long-term knee injury, the question for 2023 may now become how their Mexican No. 9 fits alongside Agada rather than vice-versa.
- Date signed: April 28, 2022
- Past club: Nimes (France)
Cubas’ first and only MLS goal to date was a memorable one, sinking eventual champions LAFC. But reducing this Paraguayan international to such contributions misses the point entirely.
Cubas, who signed a DP deal, brings so much quality to his defensive midfield role. Only 26, he’s a long-term centerpiece for the Whitecaps.