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What you need to know

Philadelphia Union transfer Carranza to Feyenoord

The Philadelphia Union have transferred forward Julián Carranza to Eredivisie side Feyenoord. Carranza, who originally came to MLS in 2020 with Inter Miami CF, departs with 37g/15a in 115 regular-season appearances. He was a key part of Philadelphia's MLS Cup 2022 runner-up side and tallied 6g/1a in nine Concacaf Champions Cup matches.

Minnesota United transfer Arriaga to Serbia's Partizan Belgrade

Minnesota United FC have transferred Kervin Arriaga to Serbian SuperLiga side Partizan Belgrade. The Honduran international joined Minnesota ahead of the 2022 season from CD Marathón in his home country. Arriaga, a 26-year-old midfielder and defender, accumulated 6g/3a in 57 appearances.

Small-sided: A quick catch up

There’s quietly been a ton of news over the last few days. We’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t get you (and ourselves) caught up on what you might have missed.

Charlotte FC DP Karol Swiderski returning

One of the most surprising pieces of news from the last week came directly from Charlotte FC head coach Dean Smith. Smith confirmed DP forward Karol Swiderski’s loan with Serie A side Hellas Verona is ending and Swiderski will return to Charlotte.

Swiderski exited earlier in the season once Smith arrived as one of two DPs to leave Carolina. Swiderski wanted to get back to Europe and Kamil Jóźwiak is up there with some of the least productive DPs in MLS history. At the time, Smith didn’t seem too concerned.

“I let everybody know before we traveled to Miami, my thoughts with Kamil, and we wish him well at Granada now that he's gone there,” Smith told media. “Karol had intimated that he wanted to go back to Europe, so I was pretty cool with that."

“So I was pretty cool with that” isn’t exactly a plea to stay. Smith didn’t stop there though.

"I don't want players at the club who don't want to be here. We want players fighting for the crown and the jersey. What we've got now is players who want to be here and a really good squad mentality at the moment. That's important as well as bringing in new players."

Again: Not exactly on his hands and knees begging for Charlotte’s DPs to hang around.

But things didn’t work out for Swiderski in Italy. At least not enough for Hellas Verona to purchase him outright. Now, at least in theory, he’s set to return to a team that’s far different from the one he left. Charlotte have turned into a defensive stalwart that’s only a couple of high quality attacking pieces away from being a contender.

Swiderski is something close to that. He put up 22 goals and 10 assists in 58 starts during his first two seasons in MLS. He always felt like a lone bright spot on a pair of Charlotte teams that never found their way. It’s entirely possible he could come back and thrive with Liel Abada and Patrick Agyemang helping out in attack. Even Smith thinks it might go pretty well.

"Listen, he decided he wanted to go and pursue Europe and we were happy for him to go and do that," Smith said. "It's not happened at the moment for him to join anyone, so he's coming back. And as I say, we want good players at the club, I believe he's a good player. As long as he comes back, his attitude and application are top like it was before he left, then not a problem."

That leaves one more open DP spot. Smith says he wants a No. 9. It seems likely he’ll get it. At that point we’ll have to pause and assess where we’re at with a Charlotte side already having its best-ever season. My gut call is they’ll be at the top of the list when it comes to teams that aren’t elite but no one wants to face in the playoffs. Swiderski is good enough to take them there.

Colorado Rapids fully acquire Rafael Navarro

This is a big deal for the Rapids. They’ve officially acquired DP forward Rafa Navarro for good. Navarro initially joined on loan from Palmeiras. Now he’s under contract through 2027.

It doesn’t necessarily change a ton. The Rapids are still the same team now that the deal has gone through. And, as we’ve talked about in the last couple of weeks, this version of the Rapids is pretty good. But if the Rapids are looking for more than pretty good, it’s fair to wonder if Navarro is the guy to lead them there.

Let’s go by the numbers real quick. Yes, Navarro has 11 goals on the season, but four have come from penalties. Yes, Navarro has the fifth-best xG mark in MLS this season, but he has a non-penalty xG that’s lower than both of his fellow DPs, Djordje Mihailovic and Kévin Cabral. Basically, his attacking numbers have been inflated a whole heckuva lot by taking six penalties this season. Should you really be spending a DP spot on a player who’s in the 15th percentile among starting strikers in non-penalty xG?

Personal call here: Probably not. But to be fair, Navarro is good on the ball and does a ton of work defensively. You’re getting production in other ways… just not in the ways you’d prefer to focus on when it comes to a DP striker.

It’s still technically early in his MLS career. And Colorado are playing well right now. We’ve seen plenty of players take a leap forward in MLS as time goes on. Navarro feels like a candidate. Colorado really need him to be at least.

New England Revolution forward Tomás Chancalay out for 2024

There’s not a ton to add here other than this one is a total bummer. Chancalay has a partial ACL tear.

That being said, Chancalay didn’t produce at a high level before being placed on the season ending injury list. He only had two goals and an assist this year. But that felt like more of a byproduct of whatever exactly has made the Revs so disappointing. Chancalay’s performance is a part of that, of course, but it feels like we’d be getting into a chicken or egg scenario if we dug much further.

All considered, it’s a setback for a team that couldn’t afford a setback. Their recent run of four straight wins did come without Chancalay, but the whole thing felt like a minor miracle. It’s hard to see them pulling off a similar run of form again. Missing out on a DP attacker makes it even more unlikely.

New York Red Bulls transfer Frankie Amaya to Toluca

This is another surprising one. Amaya started 18 games for New York this season. What do you really even add beyond the fact that replacing starters on good teams is hard to do?

It’s even more difficult when you’re already pretty thin at Amaya’s position in New York’s midfield. It seems like it will be homegrowns or very young players filling that role for a while. We’ll have to wait and see if the club can find a suitable replacement for a solid player.

FC Dallas transfer José Mulato to Serbian team

Dallas opened up a U22 spot with this move. U22s are very hit and miss. But remember, you can spend as big a transfer fee as you want on them as long as their salary is below a certain threshold. It’s always a big deal when a U22 spot opens up. Even if you don’t know how the team plans to use it or if they’ll be able to get it right when they do. Dallas could certainly use some help.

Other things

Colorado Rapids end Diack’s loan spell: The Colorado Rapids and FC Nantes have agreed to end Lamine Diack’s loan spell. The 23-year-old Senegalese midfielder played just 16 minutes across four substitute appearances with the Rapids. The former Senegal youth international was acquired on a six-month loan (through July 2024) from Ligue 1 side Nantes with a purchase option on Feb. 1.

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