What you need to know

MLS Board of Governors approves new sporting initiatives ahead of 2024 season

Major League Soccer’s Board of Governors met on Thursday and announced new Sporting and Competition initiatives that will be implemented ahead of the 2024 MLS season. Highlighted by innovations piloted in MLS NEXT Pro, the approved initiatives prioritize player health and safety, evolving the game while upholding the integrity of the competition.

Atlanta sign Cohen

Atlanta United have made their first addition of the offseason, announcing Thursday they have signed goalkeeper Josh Cohen through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. Cohen, 31, was out of contract after previously helping Maccabi Haifa win three Israeli Premier League titles. 

Seattle sign Roldan to new contract

Seattle Sounders FC have signed defender Alex Roldan to a new contract through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027, the club announced Thursday. Roldan, 27, has three goals and 17 assists in 135 appearances (97 starts) for the Sounders.

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Hello coaches, goodbye legends

We’re only a week into the MLS offseason, and we’ve already had [checks notes] two new head coaches hired, one of the greatest defenders of all time retire, the greatest player in Sounders history bid his farewell, a legend return to Salt Lake City and a Concacaf Champions Cup draw.

Oh, and for no discernible reason, teams are swapping fullbacks like their lives depend on it. 

The MLS silly season is in full swing, and that means it’s time for the return of small-sided, where we round up all you need to know from the week that was.

Charlotte and RBNY make head coaching hires

Both Charlotte FC and New York Red Bulls made head coaching hires after moving on from their previous managers at the end of the season. For the two Eastern Conference Wild Card teams, it’s the second head coaching change in just two years. Clearly, both clubs would like to elevate above last year’s “just-ok” status, possibly with the extra motivation of capitalizing on all the eyeballs Lionel Messi should bring in the coming seasons.

Dean Smith (Charlotte FC) and Sandro Schwarz (New York Red Bulls) bring top-flight experience from the EPL and Bundesliga, respectively, so the hires look ambitious enough on paper – though Schwarz’s last season managing Hertha Berlin, which ended in relegation following his April 2023 dismissal, leaves a little something to be desired.

But at the end of the day, regardless of the head coach, these two rosters need upgrades.

Smith at least has a chance to prove his chops by taking a spin at the ever-vexing “how to get DPs Enzo Copetti and Karol Swiderski to play well together” conundrum. But even solving that (which would be massive), there’s a legitimate question as to whether Kamil Jozwiak and Kerwin Vargas bring enough to the wing positions.

Schwarz probably needs even more roster help, or at least better luck from the health gods. Two of the club’s marquee attackers, Dante Vanzeir and Lewis Morgan, combined for 2g/1a (all Vanzeir) in 11 total starts in 2023 amid injury and suspension absences. They need more production in the final third next year. Getting the reported DP deal for midfielder Emil Forsberg over the line would be a start.

Three GOATs move on

It’s important to remember GOATs can come in all shapes and sizes, provided the right qualifiers are used. With that in mind, three MLS GOATs said happy trails to either their playing careers or their long-time club this week.

First Giorgio Chiellini, the GOAT Italian defender in MLS, and maybe the GOAT Italian defender period (though there’s a long list for that latter title), announced his retirement Tuesday. Chiellini, winner of nine Serie A titles and the 2020 European Championship, brought an all-time vibe to MLS upon his summer 2022 signing. Whether gracefully accepting a backup role en route to the team’s MLS Cup triumph in his first year, or rediscovering his best stuff again (again) to lead the team back to MLS Cup in 2023 as a starter, Chiellini’s brilliant play on the field was matched only by his smile off it.

Next, Nicolas Lodeiro, the GOAT Seattle Sounders FC player, bid his official farewell to the club. We knew this one was coming, as reports long held the Sounders would let their all-time assists leader walk in free agency. Still, the final announcement demands acknowledgment. There are a lot of Sounders figures who’ve earned the right to be in the “build a statue” conversation over the club’s nearly 50-year history, and Lodeiro, winner of two MLS Cups and a Concacaf Champions Cup, is at the front of the pack.

Lastly, Steven Beitashour, a GOAT MLS defender who also represented Iran at the 2014 World Cup, retired after a 14-year career in the league. Is this one a stretch? Sure. But if we’re not going to shout out a near 300-appearance career that included a 2017 MLS Cup in the Daily KO, then where are we going to do it? Players like Beitashour provide the glue that makes this league what it is.

Bonne chance, GOATs. May the grass stay green on the other side.

Jason Kreis returns to Salt Lake

We here at the Daily KO (or maybe it’s just me) love a hero’s journey, and Jason Kreis’ return to RSL nearly a decade to the day after leaving as the club’s most successful coach is exactly that. Kreis bounced around several different clubs (including US youth national teams) and served many different roles over the last decade. Now, he’s hoping to use all that experience to help bolster RSL not just on the sporting side but in business too, with a particular eye towards strengthening the academy.

If Kreis can bring the magic to Utah in his second stint with the club, it’ll be great not just for RSK, but possibly for the USMNT too, as they look to draw talent from all corners of the country.


• The fullback roulette wheel is spinning: Some high-quality fullbacks have found new homes already this offseason, headlined by Andrew Gutman to Chicago and Nick Lima to New England. None of these moves pop off the page, but don’t forget Malte Amundsen hit arguably the best pass in MLS Cup history last Saturday. Fullback trades can make all the difference.

• St. Louis make a St. Louis move: Chris Durkin is the exact type of do-everything midfielder who should thrive under Bradley Carnell. True to form, St. Louis aren’t spending big, but it looks like they’re spending smart.

• The new CCC will be fun: 10 MLS teams?! An MLS-MLS matchup (St. Louis vs. Houston) and an MLS-Liga MX matchup (Vancouver vs. Tigres) in Round One? Yes, please.

• San Diego go local with their first-ever signing: Local investment is good. Good luck to San Diego native Duran Ferree. The 17-year-old goalkeeper already has a place in history as San Diego FC’s first-ever signing.

Other things

San Jose acquire Judd from LA: California Clásico rival completed a trade Thursday, as San Jose Earthquakes have that's split evenly across each of the next two seasons. LA can receive up to an additional $50k in 2025 GAM for performance-based incentives.

Orlando fully acquire Cartagena: Peru international midfielder Wilder Cartagena is sticking with Orlando City SC, as the club announced Thursday they’ve signed him through the 2025 MLS season. Cartagena, 29, was previously on loan at Orlando from Al-Ittihad Kalba FC, who compete in the United Arab Emirates’ UAE Pro League.

Cincinnati sign Keller: Supporters' Shield champions FC Cincinnati have added center-back depth, announcing Thursday they have signed Kipp Keller through the 2024 MLS season with options for 2025-26. Cincinnati acquired Keller's rights from Austin FC in exchange for their third-round pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas. The 23-year-old, selected No. 5 overall in the 2022 SuperDraft, made 17 appearances across all competitions in two seasons with Austin FC.

Austin acquire Obrian: Austin FC have , the club announced Thursday. Obrian, 28, has spent the last three seasons with Texan rival FC Dallas. He has tallied 17g/13a in 94 MLS games and will occupy senior and international roster spots for Austin FC.

Dallas sign homegrown Urzua: FC Dallas have signed homegrown midfielder Alejandro Urzua through the 2025 MLS season with options for 2026-28, the club announced Thursday. The 17-year-old spent two years with North Texas SC in MLS NEXT Pro, scoring once in 21 games.

Nashville acquire Gaines from Charlotte: Nashville SC have completed another trade, announcing Thursday they have presented by adidas. Gaines, 25, arrives in Nashville after tallying 3g/5a in 51 MLS matches for Charlotte and Austin FC. 

New York City extend Matt Freese: New York City FC have signed goalkeeper Matt Freese to a contract extension through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027, the club announced Thursday. Last January, Freese joined NYCFC in a trade with the Philadelphia Union after backing up Andre Blake. The 25-year-old former US youth international took the starting job as summer turned to fall, ultimately notching six clean sheets in 14 appearances across all competitions.

Philadelphia sign homegrown Pariano: Philadelphia Union have signed homegrown midfielder Nick Pariano through the 2025 MLS season with options for 2026-27, the club announced Thursday. Pariano, 20, joins after a successful four-year career at Duke University. The US U-20 international earned First Team All-ACC honors this fall.

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Good luck out there. Keep an eye out for good omens.