Daily Kickoff - 12.23.23
What you need to know

MLS Free Agency opens today

This year’s class contains nearly 100 players. See the full list, as well as those available via Re-Entry and Waivers

2024 CCC draw tonight

The 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup draw is held tonight; you can watch at 7 pm ET on FOX Sports, Tubi and TUDN. in next year’s continental club competition, and the draw determines the matchups for the first two rounds. Columbus Crew (MLS Cup winner) and Inter Miami CF (Leagues Cup winner) have byes into the Round of 16. 

LAFC, Columbus Crew make year-end roster moves

All 29 MLS teams have now filed their year-end roster moves. For Columbus, the big headline is Julian Gressel is out of contract and eligible for free agency. For LAFC, Carlos Vela, Diego Palacios, Kellyn Acosta  and Maxime Crépeau are all free agents. 

Herrera joins D.C. United, Ruan joins CF Montréal

Two right backs are on the move, as D.C. United have acquired Aaron Herrera from CF Montréal in exchange for Ruan and $500,000 in 2024 General Allocation Money (GAM).

Gutman to Chicago Fire, Navarro to Colorado Rapids

A fifth MLS team awaits left back Andrew Gutman, who has joined Chicago Fire FC after the club struck a trade with the Colorado Rapids. Venezuelan international left back Miguel Navarro and $450,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) heads the other way.

Durkin joins St. Louis in multi-player trade

Chris Durkin's second stint at D.C. United has ended, as the homegrown midfielder has been traded to St. Louis CITY SC in exchange for winger Jared Stroud, center back Lucas Bartlett and $300,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM).

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The coach carousel keeps spinning

Yesterday, Charlotte FC announced Dean Smith as their newest head coach. Naturally, that got us thinking about where every opening stands for the 2024 season.

In quick-hit fashion, let’s go team by team and take stock of where every item stands. Nearly one-third of MLS teams will have new managers next year!

The New Guys

Charlotte FC: Dean Smith

Smith, who’s most renowned for guiding Aston Villa back to the Premier League in 2019, is Charlotte’s third head coach in as many seasons. He follows in the footsteps of Miguel Ángel Ramírez and Christian Lattanzio. Heading into the club’s third year, they’re trying to build off a brief Audi MLS Cup Playoffs debut (Wild Card exit).

Chicago Fire FC: Frank Klopas

What’s old is new, as Chicago have retained Frank Klopas. It’s his second stint as the Fire's full-time head coach and he’s served as interim head coach on three prior occasions, including in 2023 when he saw out the remainder of their campaign following Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in early May. The club last made the playoffs in 2017.

Colorado Rapids: Chris Armas

Armas, who most recently served as an assistant coach for Manchester United and Leeds United in the Premier League, has returned to MLS. The former New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC manager fills the role vacated by Robin Fraser. He’s hoping to steer Colorado back to their 2021 glory days, when they earned the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.

Minnesota United FC: Sean McAuley

Minnesota’s situation could soon change, as Sean McAuley will remain as interim head coach heading into the 2024 MLS season. Once newly-appointed chief soccer officer and sporting director Khaled El-Ahmad arrives from English side Barnsley FC in January, he will determine the timing and lead the process of the head coach search. McAuley, a former assistant under Adrian Heath, took over late in 2023 as the Loons narrowly missed the playoffs. 

Portland Timbers: Phil Neville

A familiar face is back on the MLS sidelines, as Phil Neville was named the Portland Timbers’ head coach in early November. The Englishman previously led Inter Miami CF for two-and-a-half seasons, and now he’s succeeded Gio Savarese in the Rose City. Neville is tasked with revitalizing a squad that hosted MLS Cup 2021, but has fallen on hard times by failing to qualify for back-to-back postseasons.

Toronto FC: John Herdman

Herdman has coached only one game for Toronto, so we’re including him for these purposes. And a tall task awaits him after the Reds finished the 2023 campaign bottom of the overall league table, prompting another squad refresh this winter. Most recently, Herdman led Canada’s men’s national team to their first World Cup trip since 1986 after finishing atop Concacaf qualifying.

We’re Waiting…

CF Montréal

Montréal aren’t known for long-term coach stays, a trend that continued when Hernán Losada lasted just one season north of the border. There’s not much rumbling about who could take over, too. An extra note: It had to be bittersweet for CFMTL fans to watch Wilfried Nancy, their coach from 2021-22, win MLS Cup last weekend with the Columbus Crew.

D.C. United

Ally Mackay has joined D.C. United as their new general manager and chief soccer officer, having spent the past five seasons as Nashville SC’s assistant general manager. Next up? Appointing the head coach who follows in Wayne Rooney’s footsteps and, hopefully, can provide some long-term stability in the nation’s capital.

New England Revolution

The Revs have their new sporting director in place, removing the interim tag from Curt Onalfo’s role. But their coach vacancy remains as mid-December rolls around. Whoever takes over in Foxborough will replace Bruce Arena, the all-time winningest coach in MLS history.

New York Red Bulls

Reports have linked New York to Sandro Schwarz, a German manager who most recently oversaw Hertha BSC. Regardless, we know Troy Lesesne isn’t back despite fueling a late-season run to a league-record 14th straight postseason. RBNY want a trophy, though, not just a playoff dance.

Orlando City SC

As of now, all signs point to Oscar Pareja inking a new deal in Orlando. But since that’s not yet official, we’re including the Lions here. It has to be Pareja, right? He’s turned that club into a consistent contender.

Other things

Cincinnati re-sign Kubo: Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati have re-signed midfielder Yaya Kubo through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. The Japan international has 4g/7a in 100 regular-season games.

Columbus re-sign trio: Columbus Crew starting center backs Steven Moreira and Rudy Camacho both have new long-term deals, while backup goalkeeper Evan Bush is returning as well. 

Sporting KC sign Bassong: Sporting Kansas City have signed left back Zorhan Bassong through the 2024 MLS season with options for 2025-26. A former CF Montréal player, Bassong offers depth as Logan Ndenbe recovers from an ACL tear.

Philadelphia sign LeFlore: Philadelphia Union have signed left back Isaiah LeFlore through the 2024 MLS season with options for 2025-27. He most recently competed for MLS NEXT Pro side Houston Dynamo 2.

The Reading Rainbow
Full Time

Dance like nobody is watching. Or like Wilfried Nancy is leading the way.