Daily KO - SKC on the rise
What you need to know

Palacios signs with Corinthians, leaves LAFC

Diego Palacios has joined Brazilian top-flight side Corinthians after leaving LAFC as a free agent. The Ecuador international was the Black & Gold's starting left back for the past four seasons, originally joining in August 2019 from SD Aucas in his home country.

Portland Timbers transfer Yimmi Chara to Junior FC

The Portland Timbers will now begin their Phil Neville era with two open Designated Player spots. Yimmi Chara has been transferred to Colombian top-flight side Junior FC. Portland’s top-end roster flexibility began when they declined the 2024 contract option on striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda. Star midfielder and club-record signing Evander is the Timbers’ leftover DP.

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Some way too early thoughts on teams that could take a leap forward in 2024

It wouldn’t be a Daily Kickoff if we didn’t attach a ton of caveats to literally any take. We lean towards neutrality (and cowardice!) around here. Anyway, as of now, a few teams seem set to take a leap forward in 2024. For some that means they could go from playoff team to Supporters’ Shield contender, for others that means they could just get back to the postseason. A leap is a leap though, right?

It’s obviously way too early to actually start assessing most of these rosters, but these teams all have some combo of established pieces and the roster flexibility to build on that foundation in a big way. We’re saying if they get those moves right, they could take a leap forward this season. This is about potential, not probability. Unless we get it right. Then we called it.

I don’t think I need to rehash how good SKC’s second half of the season was. But, just in case, the brief summary is no one in the West earned more points and no one else in the West bulldozed their kind of sort of in-state rival in Round One of the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they were perfect from June onward, but they were objectively good.

Peter Vermes should be well aware there are still weaknesses that need shoring up – and there aren’t quite as many weaknesses as media types like me assumed. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see some reinforcements at the back come in, but they don’t have to reinvent the team here. As long as they stay healthy, they’ll be tough to handle. That’s a big “if” with DP forward Alan Pulido’s history and the age of their front three, but that all went just fine most of last year.

Oh, and did I mention they have an open DP spot now? I’d expect them to be very ambitious as they go about replacing attacking midfielder Gadi Kinda. If they get it right, they’ll be a favorite for a home playoff spot.

The Five Stripes had to take some pain last year. There were holes in the roster and restrictive contracts that kept them from doing everything they wanted in Garth Lagerwey’s first season in charge of the team. They still managed to bring in potential Best XI-caliber players like midfielder Tristan Muyumba and wingers Saba Lobjanidze and Xande Silva with a summer window haul that harkened back to Lagerwey’s days with Seattle Sounders FC.

Those players weren’t enough to push them past Columbus in Round One of the playoffs, but it did earn them a resounding 4-2 win over the eventual MLS Cup champions to force a game three. This offseason, they’ve already gone to work addressing some critical needs. They brought in goalkeeper Josh Cohen to compete with Brad Guzan for the starting job, they’re reportedly in for Bordeaux center back Stian Gregersen, and there’s a decent chance they add a midfielder to pair with Muyumba before the window is over.

Yeah, there are questions about Gregerson replacing Miles Robinson and the team eventually having to replace Thiago Almada. But it’s hard to doubt Lagerwey and company’s ability to figure out a solution, especially when they’ve been preparing for that eventuality for more than a year now.

Oh, wow, real bold stuff here, Sam.

Listen, hear me out. Yes, the Crew are your MLS Cup champions. But let’s not forget, they got that done at least a year ahead of schedule. It’s plausible they look even better in year two of Wilfried Nancy’s tenure and in year two with forward Diego Rossi.

There is a chance of course Nancy isn’t even here by the end of the season. It’s an eventuality a team abroad will give him a shot. I can’t remember a coach in MLS who felt more destined to follow the path of [Insert exciting young MLS player that goes to Europe for like $20 million].

There’s also a chance Cucho Hernandez doesn’t stick around the whole season after tearing up MLS for a couple of years. As of now, though, the Crew are set to be contenders in every competition they take part in. Those extra games may keep them from being true Shield contenders at the end of the day, but everything is on the table.

Their rebrand came at a perfect time. They’re starting a new life without attacking midfielder Nico Lodeiro, and it’s clear they’re expecting big things from his replacement. Rumor is they’re in for Argentine youth international Pedro de la Vega for a DP spot, and the even more rumory rumor is the team considered spending big for 22-year-old Internacional winger Mauricio. 

They’re not taking this offseason lightly. If they get this roster refresh right, we’re looking at a team that could easily jump from the 53-point group they were last season to a Shield contender.

Minnesota United somehow missed the playoffs last season. It came down to a couple of things. First and foremost, their best player didn’t join the team until midway through the season. Most of the rest of their issues came down to bad luck. Only three teams underperformed their underlying numbers like Minnesota did. Even with that bad luck, you have to imagine if Bebelo Reynoso played the whole season, they would have been fine and maybe Adrian Heath would have kept his job.

That’s not the world we’re living in, though, and now the Loons have a big question mark at manager as they patiently wait for new sporting director Khaled El-Ahmad to come in and begin a formal coaching search. In the meantime, interim manager Sean McAuley is in charge of a team that needs some upgrades.

The good news is the Loons have the space to do it. They have an open DP spot after Mender Garcia’s departure and should be able to bring in some needed help defensively. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them back in the playoffs in 2024. As long as Reynoso is around the whole year anyway.

I don’t have a ton to offer here other than they were a super young team last season and they’re NYCFC. They aren’t going to stay down for long, right?

I’m not convinced about the Timbers, but I’m at least curious to see what they look like under Phil Neville and what they do with two new open DP spots. Is there a chance Portland are actually kind of attack-minded and fun this year?

They really fell off in the second half of the season, but the Quakes looked like a playoff team for at least part of the season. They have an open DP spot following attacking midfielder Jamiro Monteiro’s departure and they’ll be in year two under Luchi Gonzalez. A more consistent and effective San Jose side seems like it’s on the table.

I mean it would have been weird not to mention them, right? Let’s not dwell on it before I spiral into another monologue where I keep saying things like “DEFENSE??” and “TRAVEL???” and  “AGE????” that’ll get brought back up when they win the Shield.

Other things

New England Revolution re-sign Boateng: The New England Revolution have re-signed midfielder/winger Emmanuel Boateng through the 2024 MLS season with an option for 2025. The 29-year-old had his contract option declined at season's end after posting 2g/3a in 27 appearances (16 starts) in 2023. A member of the Revs' 2021 Supporters' Shield-winning side, Boateng had previous stints in the league with LA Galaxy, D.C. United and Columbus Crew.

Colorado Rapids waive Wilson and Nicholson: The Colorado Rapids have waived center back Danny Wilson and winger Sam Nicholson. Wilson, 32, spent the last six seasons with Colorado after joining from Scottish powerhouse Rangers FC. He ultimately logged 5g/7a in 136 regular-season appearances. Nicholson, 28, rejoined Colorado in 2022 after time at English side Bristol Rovers FC. He tallied 8g/10a in 105 regular-season appearances during two stints in MLS, starting with Minnesota United FC in 2017-18.

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Good luck out there. Attack the day.