What you need to know

Wilfried Nancy departs CF Montréal to become Columbus Crew head coach

The Columbus Crew have a new head coach, announcing Tuesday they’ve hired Wilfried Nancy from CF Montréal after he led their fellow Eastern Conference club during the 2021-22 MLS seasons. The Crew sent Montréal an undisclosed compensation amount to acquire the 45-year-old Frenchman. That compensation also involves three members of Nancy’s staff in Montréal – assistant coach Kwame Ampadu, fitness coach Jules Gueguen and video analyst Maxime Chalier – heading to Columbus as well.

Portland Timbers sign Brazilian midfielder Evander in club-record deal

The Portland Timbers have completed the club-record signing of Brazilian attacking midfielder Evander from Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland. Evander will occupy a Designated Player slot and is under contract through 2026 with a club option for 2027. The 24-year-old is currently the Europa League leader in assists this season with five in six games. He also has experience in the Champions League. A No. 10, Evander is the new face of Portland's attack.

Charlotte FC reach verbal agreement to sign Enzo Copetti

Charlotte FC have reached a verbal agreement with Racing Club to acquire forward Enzo Copetti, sources confirmed to MLSsoccer.com. CL Merlo first reported the talks. Sources added the deal would be around $6 million if it gets done. It is pending a medical and final details before being officially completed. Copetti, who turns 27 next month, scored 21 goals in 47 games across all competitions in 2022. He was Racing Club’s top scorer as they finished second, behind Boca Juniors, in the 2022 Argentine Primera División table. The center forward would be Charlotte's third Designated Player.

CF Montréal transfer Koné to Watford FC

CF Montréal have transferred midfielder Ismaël Koné to English second-division side Watford FC. The move becomes official on Jan. 1 and follows Montréal sending both defender Alistair Johnston (to Celtic) and midfielder Djordje Mihailovic (to AZ Alkmaar) to European clubs for the winter.

New England Revolution sign ex-USMNT forward Wood

The New England Revolution have signed forward Bobby Wood to a one-year contract through 2023 with a club option for 2024. Two weeks ago, New England selected Wood with the first pick in Stage 2 of the 2022 MLS Re-Entry Draft after Real Salt Lake didn't retain him. They acquired the Re-Entry Draft's top spot from D.C. United.

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Small-sided: The Blanco replacement, a new DP in Charlotte and a continuous spiral

Portland have a new DP! Charlotte have a new DP! Montréal also have players on their team, probably! It finally feels like things are starting to pick up steam around here. Let’s talk it out.

A club record deal for the Timbers

Like most major transfers this offseason, I’m not going to be one of those people who try to claim to know exactly how a player will translate to MLS. I can look at a player’s stats, I can watch “Evander: All goals and assists 2022 | THE NEXT RONALDINHO???” on YouTube, heck, I could probably bully someone into giving me a Wyscout account and start grinding hours of tape. I’m still not going to know how he’s going to translate to MLS. No one does. 

We can make reasonable guesses and that’s it. And while some players will definitely have a higher floor, nothing is a given. Let’s just look at the most expensive incoming transfers ever in MLS. 

  1. Thiago Almada - Turning out pretty good so far, seems to be a genuine hit on the field. He’s also an outlier on this list.
  1. Pity Martinez - The guy won South American Player of the Year and then came to MLS to be the poor man’s Diego Fagundez. Fascinating. 
  1. Ezequiel Barco - Came in with almost as much hype as Almada and never panned out relative to expectations. Really just one quality season and it was just kind of decent. He almost single-handedly broke Matt Doyle by refusing to pass the ball in transition.
  1. Brenner - Came good in year two! Took a while though.
  1. Luiz Araujo - Extremely talented. Also, as of now, the least productive Atlanta United player on this list. And that’s saying something.
  1. Rodolfo Pizarro - Y’all remember Rodolfo Pizarro? He might still technically be on Inter Miami’s roster? Should probably look this up…
  1. Brian Rodriguez - Totally fine. And that was kind of it. Just, totally fine. LAFC actively shopped him for a while before he ended up at Club America.
  1. Cucho Hernandez - Early returns are good in Columbus! Maybe MLS clubs are getting better at this?
  1. Evander - Portland better hope they’re getting better at this.

All of this makes sense for Portland. Evander is young but not too young, he fills a position of need, and he might end up being exactly what the Timbers need to get back to the playoffs this year. It feels likely that they nailed this one. But we won’t know for sure for a while. Either way, it will be nice to see Portland’s attack look to someone besides Sebastian Blanco for a spark. Blanco has been carrying that group for a little too long.

Another center forward in Charlotte?

Ok, again, no idea how guys are going to translate to MLS. But while I can look at Evander’s signing and see exactly how he fits in, I’m a bit more confused about Charlotte’s target, Enzo Copetti. Someone on the internet feel free to toot at me on Mastodon or whatever, but my memories of Charlotte’s inaugural season have them primarily in a 4-3-3 setup (and so do all of the fancy player tracking programs).

I understand that Copetti plays primarily as a striker although he can go out wide if needed. So (yes, this is about to be super reductive, welcome to a national-facing, broad audience newsletter) either Charlotte is moving to a two-striker system with Copetti and fellow DP striker Karol Swiderski with no readily apparent spot for DP winger Kamil Jozwiak, or, the more likely scenario, they’re going to move Copetti out wide with Swiderski at center forward.

This concern may look hilariously dumb in like four months, but it just feels like an interesting choice to pick up a player on a DP deal and then shift him out of the position where he had the success that made him worth a DP deal. Again, he may be totally comfortable as a winger or there might be roster moves on the horizon that we just can’t see yet. I’m just intrigued is all.

Oh, and he also recently picked up an MCL injury. That’s…that’s not ideal. Again, could turn out great, but, ya know, intrigued. I’m intrigued.

Daily CF Montréal update

Ismael Koné is officially gone and things will not get any better with today’s head coach news.

Other Things

FC Dallas sign defender Ibeagha in free agency: FC Dallas have signed free-agent center back Sebastien Ibeagha through the 2024 MLS season with options for 2025 and 2026. The 30-year-old defender started for LAFC in their MLS Cup 2022 victory after helping provide depth for the Supporters’ Shield winners last season.

Orlando City sign defender Smith to new contract: Orlando City SC have signed defender Kyle Smith to a new contract through the 2023 MLS season with an option in 2024. Smith, who turns 31 in January, has 3g/3a in 95 matches (61 starts) for Orlando the past four seasons. He’s played all across their backline since joining from USL Championship side Louisville City.

2022 adidas MLS College Showcase to feature 44 top college prospects: Major League Soccer today announced the third-ever adidas MLS College Showcase will take place from Dec. 9-12 in Raleigh, North Carolina in conjunction with the 2022 NCAA Men’s College Cup and in advance of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas on Dec. 21. The 2022 adidas MLS College Showcase will feature 44 top college players, ranging from freshmen to graduate students, participating in a series of training sessions, testing, interviews, and match play.

The Reading Rainbow
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Good luck out there. You should try a change of scenery some time.