What you need to know

Toronto select Spicer No. 1 in SuperDraft

Toronto FC have selected Lipscomb University forward Tyrese Spicer with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas. Spicer, a pre-signed senior, joins the Canadian club after a 2023 season where 14g/3a in 16 games helped him earn First Team All-American, Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) Player of the Year and MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist honors. A 23-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native, he registered 29g/18a through 57 overall appearances for Lipscomb.

Orlando coach Pareja signs new contract

Orlando City SC have resolved their head-coach uncertainty, announcing Tuesday Oscar Pareja has signed a new two-year deal through the 2025 MLS season. Pareja was out of contract after the 2023 campaign, when the Lions finished second in the overall league table and earned a club-record 63 points (18W-7L-9D), before falling to eventual league champions Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Porter named New England head coach

The New England Revolution have a new head coach, announcing Tuesday Caleb Porter has taken over ahead of the 2024 MLS season. Porter joins New England as a two-time MLS Cup winner, previously steering the Portland Timbers (2015) and Columbus Crew (2020) to league titles. He's compiled a 113W-93L-89D regular-season record in MLS.

Houston re-sign Dorsey

Houston Dynamo FC have retained free-agent defender Griffin Dorsey, announcing Tuesday they've re-signed him through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. The 24-year-old was out of contract after a breakout season where he became head coach Ben Olsen's first-choice right back, helping key the club's second-ever US Open Cup title and first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearance since 2017.

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I’m back. I’m well-rested. And like every friend you’ve ever had who became totally insufferable after a trip abroad, I have opinions on midday tea (good, I bought a kettle), urban planning (95% of American cities swung and missed, folks), and something called “Strictly Come Dancing” (I’m glad Layton didn’t win, seemed unfair to have a West End dancer on a show whose whole deal is taking celebrities who don’t know how to dance and teaching them to dance). 

Anyway, I missed you. And it seems like I missed a lot. It would have felt like a lot even if I had only taken yesterday off. So, we’ve got to regroup. Because it’s the offseason, that only means one thing: Small-Sided—Get it? Like “short-sighted” but tweaked a bit to keep the whole soccer motif?—our mostly daily offseason look at the day’s big and small news.

Big O back in O-Town

Oscar Pareja is returning to Orlando City. It’s not a surprise, but it did take a little longer than most of us were expecting. The bottom line here is Orlando City were in the wilderness before Pareja and his stable, experienced presence plus an improved roster have been enough to drag the club out of there.

Even still, he had some detractors in Orlando, especially at the beginning of the season. The team navigated a tough stretch though, got incredibly hot over the back half of the year and ended 2023 with 63 points. I doubt too many folks are upset Pareja is back. I mean, a few folks are upset, that’s the baseline for most Orlando fans, but still, less than normal.

Now, there are some extremely Daily Kickoff caveats here. First off, Orlando had no chance of continuing their second-half form for too much longer. Over that 17-game stretch, they led the league in points per game with 2.18. They also outperformed their Expected Points per game model by a hilarious amount. Based on American Soccer Analysis data, Orlando were 0.7 points per game better than what an average team would have been. That’s double the next closest team, RSL.

Second off, managers typically don’t affect all that much, etc. etc. we’ve been over it all before. However, organizational stability does affect how you craft your team. Orlando should have a clear understanding of the types of players that fit into Pareja’s game model and what’s needed to change a great roster into an elite roster this offseason. They have the space to do it too. The Lions have an open DP spot and Mauricio Pereyra has parted ways with the team. It’s time to go get a high-level No. 10 and add him into a midfield that will offer plenty of protection behind him in recently re-acquired Wilder Cartagena and César Araújo.

There’s a clear path here thanks to a now years-long understanding of what Pareja wants from this group and what he can get out of them. The Lions aren’t far away from something truly special.

Everyone gets one. Right?

Hey, speaking of stability, lord knows the Revolution could use a healthy dose of it. Hiring an experienced and proven MLS manager like Caleb Porter makes a lot of sense after a less-than-ideal ending to 2023. Someone has to right the ship. It’s not a bad thought to put that job in the hands of a manager who’s won an MLS Cup at both of his previous stops.

Of course, it’s going to take a little more than just bringing in a name-brand manager to solve everything. DP forward Gustavo Bou is officially out, there’s no telling when fullback Brandon Bye will be able to return from an ACL tear and what level he’ll be at when he does, the same goes for forward Dylan Borrero, they probably don’t have the best shot-stopper in MLS history in goal for the first time since 2018, and Carles Gil’s back can only hold up so much longer after carrying this tea so far and so often. There are genuine questions and worries around this team that won’t be solved solely by adding Porter to the mix.

It shouldn’t hurt though. And now the Revs can really start moving forward with revamping their roster. Plus, ya know, kind of seems like getting the ball to Gil and Tomas Chancalay as often as possible is worth about 50 points a year. Don’t be too worried about the Revs.

A SuperDraft SuperNameDraft

No one ever knows how SuperDraft picks are going to work out. If you’re looking for actual insight into what these guys did in college, head to Travis Clark’s breakdown in The Reading Rainbow below. If you’re not looking for that and are instead looking for something much, much dumber, I have great news. Here are the top 50 names of the 2023 SuperDraft eligible players list.

  1. Thaddaeus Dewing – F – Air Force
  2. Wessel Speel – GK – Hofstra
  3. Damien Barker John – F – Louisville 
  4. Kojo Dadzie – AM – Brown
  5. Ploutarchos Alonefti - F – Lipscomb
  6. Grayson Doody – RB – UCLA
  7. Buba Fofanah – F – Portland
  8. Birgir Baldvinsson – LB – Wisconsin
  9. Nicolas Fleuriau Chateau – F – St. John's
  10. Schinieder Mimy – LB – Oral Roberts
  11. Joey Batrouni – GK – Virginia
  12. Okeefe Cunningham – CM – Loyola Marymount
  13. Camil Azzam Ruiz – F – Iona
  14. Gevork Diarbian – LW – Providence
  15. Guillaume Vacter – RCB – UConn
  16. Ask Ekeland – CM – Duquesne
  17. Tyger Evans – LB – NCAA Transfer Portal 
  18. Tyger Smalls – LW – Loyola Marymount
  19. Heriberto Soto – LW – Marquette 
  20. Zane Bubb – RCB – Central Florida
  21. Ajmeer Spengler – CM – South Florida
  22. Konstantinos Georgallides – AM – Louisville
  23. Hugo Bacharach – RCB – Indiana
  24. Zach Zengue – AM – Georgetown
  25. Rommee Jaridly – RW – San Diego State 
  26. Paddy Burns – LB – Notre Dame
  27. Kenji Mboma Dem – F – Dayton
  28. Maximus Jennings – RCB – Georgetown
  29. Kisa Kiingi – RB – Cornell
  30. KK Baffour – LW – Notre Dame
  31. Stas Korzeniowski – F – Pennsylvania
  32. Kalani Kossa-Rienzi – RB – Washington
  33. Finn McRobb – LCB – High Point
  34. Zoltan Nagy – GK – Duquesne
  35. Bright Nutornutsi – F – Grand Canyon
  36. Hesron Barry – LCB – Wisconsin Green Bay
  37. Jono Nyandjo – RW – Charlotte
  38. Til Zinnhardt – RCB – North Carolina
  39. Eno Nto – F – Notre Dame
  40. Andrew Hammersley – GK – Sacred Heart
  41. Olu Oyegunle – LCB – Syracuse
  42. Rocky Perez – CM – South Carolina
  43. Yeider Zuluaga – LW – Seattle
  44. Samory Powder – RB – Portland 
  45. Alvaro Garcia-Pascual – F – Marshall
  46. Bernardo Prego – RB – Providence
  47. Giorgio Probo – CM – Creighton
  48. Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos – F – Memphis
  49. Jason Shokalook – F – Akron
  50. Donovan Hesselmeyer – CM – South Florida
Other things

Philadelphia sign Donovan to new contract: The Philadelphia Union have signed forward Chris Donovan to a new contract through the 2025 MLS season with options for 2026-27. Donovan, 23, mad 18 regular-season appearances (four starts) in 2023. 

LA acquire forward Berry: The LA Galaxy acquired the player rights to forward Miguel Berry from Atlanta United in exchange for LA’s natural second-round pick (No. 33) in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, the clubs announced Tuesday. Berry, 26, has recorded 11 goals and three assists in 75 career regular-season matches played across four MLS seasons with the Columbus Crew (2021-22), D.C. United (2022) and Atlanta United (2023).

Colorado re-sign homegrowns Anderson, Larraz: The Colorado Rapids have re-signed homegrown defender Sebastian Anderson and homegrown midfielder Oliver Larraz through the 2024 MLS season. 

Take a look: We’ve got a list of every single trade from last night’s draft. Enter the world of swapping a second and third-round pick for GAM if you dare.

The Reading Rainbow
Full Time

Good luck out there. Beware of Tygers.