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New York Red Bulls transfer Luquinhas to Fortaleza

The New York Red Bulls have transferred Luquinhas to Brazilian first-division side Fortaleza. The move opens a Designated Player spot for New York, who also have offseason signing Emil Forsberg and club-record signing Dante Vanzeir in that roster category.

New York Red Bulls sign center back Eile

The New York Red Bulls have acquired a second Swedish player before the 2024 MLS season. Noah Eile is under contract through 2027 with an option for 2028, arriving via the U22 Initiative roster mechanism. He joins fellow countryman and former RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg, who signed with RBNY in mid-December.

Real Salt Lake transfer Savarino to Botafogo

Jefferson Savarino's second stint at Real Salt Lake has ended, as the club announced Saturday they have transferred the Venezuelan international winger to Brazilian top-flight side Botafogo. The move opens a second Designated Player spot for RSL, who also had star striker Cristian Arango (returning) and captain Damir Kreilach (now with Vancouver Whitecaps FC) occupying that roster category in 2023.

Real Salt Lake loan Rubín to Querétaro FC

Real Salt Lake have loaned striker Rubio Rubín to Liga MX's Querétaro FC. The US-turned-Guatemalan international has spent the past three seasons at RSL, tallying 11g/7a in 79 regular-season games. He memorably won the 2021 AT&T MLS Goal of the Year award.

Chicago Fire sign Danish center back Salquist

Chicago Fire FC have signed a center back via the Danish Superliga, announcing Sunday they have acquired Tobias Salquist from Silkeborg IF. Salquist, 28, is under contract through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026.

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Small-sided: Wagner returns, a shake-up in Salt Lake and more

We have plenty to get to from the last few days. We don’t have time to waste time. Let’s talk it out.

Kai Wagner stays in Philly

Star left back Kai Wagner isn’t leaving. It’s one of the most surprising moves of the offseason so far. It seemed from afar like Wagner wanted to move on and the Union were going to let him. Wagner had reportedly been generating transfer interest from European teams for years now, so it seemed like a given he’d be abroad in 2024. Instead, Philly retained a Best XI-caliber player.

It’s not quite a seismic move. In some sense, nothing has really changed. But the status quo for Philly is a heckuva status quo.

Here’s the full list of teams with more points than the Union since Wagner joined the club in 2019:

1. (Nobody)

And here’s the full list of teams that have generated a higher expected goal differential over that same span:



And, just for fun, here’s the full list of fullbacks with more primary assists in that same span:

1. Julian Gressel

That only kind of counts, by the way, Gressel rarely spends time as a more standard fullback in a back four. Either way, I think we’ve made the point here. Wagner and the Union are as good as it gets in MLS. Wagner is entering his age 26 season and has a new contract through his prime. It’s as good a signing as they or anyone else in the league could have possibly made.

ATL(igue 2) United

On Thursday, Atlanta United announced the signing of center back Stian Gregersen from Ligue 2. As always, the general rule here at The Daily Kickoff is we never have any true idea how a player is going to translate to MLS. However, Gregersen’s numbers are excellent and Atlanta United president Garth Lagerwey has a general philosophy when it comes to transfers that aim to reduce risk.

Simply put, he’s upgraded the analytics setup in Atlanta and encouraged signing players who are “prime age” (think 25-29) and who have a proven ability to adapt to new leagues by having success in countries that are not their home.

Those tenants have resulted in an interesting shift from the club and GM Carlos Bocanegra as to where they’re pulling players from. Gregersen is Atlanta United’s third signing in the last two windows from Ligue 2, the French second division. The other two, midfielder Tristan Muyumba and winger Xande Silva, were bonafide stars upon arrival last season.

It feels likely Gregersen could have a similar impact. Either way, it’s clear Atlanta have noticed some kind of market inefficiency and are raiding Ligue 2 anytime the opportunity becomes available. They aren’t the first team to sign Ligue 2 players or anything, but they are the first club I can remember to transform their team with them. Now we’ll have to wait and see if it pays off (and if other teams start to follow suit when it does).

The Red Bulls are up to something

We’ve already seen Colorado use this offseason as their own personal self-help montage. It seems like the Rapids had a moment where they dramatically shook their fists at the heavens and yelled “I’m not going to take it anymore,” and then the 80’s drum kits and synthesizers kicked in as they went out and snagged big names and reshaped their roster and showed back up with six-pack abs and a tan despite training in the Rockies the whole time. Maybe by the end we’re going to look back on the Red Bulls’ offseason in a similar way?

It hasn’t moved at the same pace as Colorado’s, but they already made waves when they brought in RB Leipzig star Emil Forsberg. Now, they’ve brought in a new U22 center back, Noah Eile, and shipped out Luquinhas to open up a DP spot.

It’s never ever a given New York will get a DP spot right of course, but hopefully their plan is to go out and bring in a replacement before the season begins. If they get that move right, they’re the kind of team that can turn into a wagon in a hurry. Remember, their underlying numbers last year were excellent. Their on-field product…well, it lacked a certain quality. A standout third DP beside Forsberg and a revitalized Dante Vanzeir would go a long way toward fixing that.

RSL are up to something too

Jefferson Savarino is gone and Real Salt Lake have a DP spot open. Well, actually, a second DP spot open. Damir Kreilach’s departure earlier this offseason already opened one up. You don’t need me to lay it out for you, RSL have a huge opportunity here. A good team with one great DP in Chicho Arango can become a great team very quickly if they add two more great DPs.

If it looks like they’re going to get those signings right, and done, before the start of the season, RSL may just be the kind of team that gets a lot of early votes to finish in the top four or maybe even win a relatively weak conference. I mean, they were only six points away from the top in 2023, and Arango didn’t arrive until midway through the year.

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