Transfer Watch Generic LA

Transfer Watch: Analyzing each team's needs as the Transfer Window opens

It's Silly Season! The transfer window is officially open in MLS, which means it’s time to look at what each team should be acquiring.

Or maybe they shouldn't be acquiring anybody. If there's one thing we've learned over MLS' nearly two decades of existence, it's that chemistry and continuity often trump raw talent. Both of last year's MLS Cup finalists – Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake – had rosters full of players who had been with those teams for ages, and their "big names" were guys who earned it with the club, not based upon what they'd done before MLS. So your team's best chance at championship-caliber growth may very well come from within.

It could be the return of an injured player. It could be a rookie breaking out and finding his feet. It could simply be time to mesh. We'll go through the possibilities here.

But … we know that's just not as much fun as making a summer shopping list. And there are some teams that clearly need new faces. We'll take a look at them, too.

Here are some of our recommendations (with a few drop-ins from the Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle) for each team. After all, the playoffs are four short months away …

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Club Needs Prognosis

  • Center Back
  • Target Forward

PRIMARY NEED: The Fire traded two promising young center backs when they got rid of Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba in the offseason. In stepped two veteran defenders, as Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni joined Bakary Soumare. Soumare has played relatively well since the middle of last season, but the two former Sounders have not been reliable so far.

SECONDARY NEED: Juan Luis Anangonó is (finally) gone. The Fire have no DPs and a big need for a No. 9. Miroslav Klose, come on down!

  • Owner
  • Playmaker

PRIMARY NEED: This team has been overly reliant on Cubo Torres to single-handedly create and score goals. Mauro Rosales got off to a good start in 2014, but age and fatigue have taken a toll on the 33-year-old, not allowing him to be a consistent chance-creator like he once was. If they could get someone to make Torres’ job easier, it would make all the difference. Of course, what really should be No. 1 on the team’s wish list is a new committed owner.

SECONDARY NEED: Ugh, Martin Rivero is cursed. The classic 4-4-2 is working right now, but Chivas feels like a team in need of a No. 10.

  • Right Back
  • Time to cook

PRIMARY NEED: Marvell Wynne has had his typical up-and-down season playing at right back, frustrating for a team that's often so reliant upon their fullbacks to provide width and verticality in the attack. Getting a true-blue right back could elevate an already dangerous squad to "contender" status.

SECONDARY NEED: All their young talent needs time to continue to grow. Players like Dillon Powers, Shane O’Neill, Deshorn Brown and Dillon Serna are all exceptional but inconsistent. Week-in, week-out brilliance should come with time.

  • Striker
  • Fullback

PRIMARY NEED: Jairo Arrieta is simply not getting it done. After scoring nine goals in 18 games in his first MLS season, he's seen his strike rate and overall play decline over the past couple of years. Columbus have been able to possess the ball and create quality chances all season but have not had a player who can finish those chances off.

SECONDARY NEED: "Right back by committee" has been the thing for the Crew this year. Josh Williams has been too imprecise in his delivery, while Chad Barson doesn't quite have the requisite athleticism.

  • The Real (?) EJ
  • Left Back

PRIMARY NEED: Almost all of their offseason acquisitions have worked in 2014, leading the club to the top of the Eastern Conference. Fabian Espindola, Bobby Boswell and Davy Arnaud have ranged from "excellent" to "very good" so far this season. What’s surprising is that their biggest prize has failed so far, which means that more than anything else D.C. need Eddie Johnson to return to his Sounders form.

SECONDARY NEED: Cristian went back to Spain after failing to settle in the US. Maybe second-year man Taylor Kemp can grab the opportunity?

  • Health
  • Center Back

PRIMARY NEED: What Dallas really needs is to get healthy. They started the season with Mauro Diaz leading the team to five wins in their first seven games, but when he went down, the whole team fell apart. A few weeks later Hendry Thomas, a rock in their midfield, also suffered an injury, and the team won just one game in May and June. With both getting healthy, it could be time to start clicking again.

SECONDARY NEED: Matt Hedges has done good work, but who's the best option next to him? This goes back to the "health" thing, as George John would be the obvious answer if he was availble.

  • Center Back
  • Target Forward

PRIMARY NEED: It has been a shocking season for the Dynamo so far, as they have two more losses than any other team in MLS. They have coughed up almost two goals per game and are surely feeling the absence of Bobby Boswell as an anchor in the back. A veteran center back could go a long way in solving their issues.

SECONDARY NEED: Mark Sherrod went from "unheralded rookie" to "crucial piece" in the blink of an eye. Once he went out for the season with an ACL tear, the Dynamo went on a five-game scoring drought.

  • Robbie Keane, MVP
  • The right CD combo

PRIMARY NEED: Honestly there’s not too much wrong with the Galaxy right now. They sit in fifth in the West in terms of points per game despite having their star center back for just six of their 14 games. What they do need is for Robbie Keane to start performing like years past. His assist and chance creation numbers are way down compared to his last two seasons.

SECONDARY NEED: They're committed to AJ DeLaGarza at right back, which means Kofi Opare should be the full-time starter next to Omar Gonzalez. Do it, Bruce.

  • Consistency
  • Left Winger

PRIMARY NEED: They seem to be righting the ship, having conceded just once in their last three after a horrific start to the season. Jack McInerney has been goal-dangerous, Justin Mapp has been All-Star-caliber, and players both young and old have figured things out in central midfield and on the back line.

SECONDARY NEED: Andres Romero and natural left back Maxim Tissot have been stopgaps at left midfield, while Blake Smith is out on loan. If Argentine playmaker Ignacio Piatti, (joining on a DP contract after San Lorenzo's Copa Libertadores run ends) can be a Diego Valeri-type difference-maker, the Impact could make a run at a playoff spot.

  • Mullins to be a sniper
  • Holding Midfielder

PRIMARY NEED: Over his last four starts, Patrick Mullins has scored zero goals in 304 minutes as the Revs have lost all four games. In the previous four games, Mullins scored four goals in 360 minutes with the Revs winning all four games. Jay Heaps will be looking to get him back on track, since it appears that as Mullins goes, so does New England.

SECONDARY NEED: Andy Dorman has done good work, and Scott Caldwell is a good change of pace. But this team sure could use its own Beckerman/Alonso/Juninho in the midfield.

  • Midfield consistency
  • Right back

PRIMARY NEED: The Red Bulls are having some problems tracking runners through the midfield. This is most likely tied into the fact that Dax McCarty has either been injured or entirely unavailable for most of the season. But also … even when he's there, the defensive rotations are weird and slow. A player like Jermaine Jones would be a very nice fit …

SECONDARY NEED: Lots of different looks at right back for NY so far. Rookie Chris Duvall has been useful but still has a ways to go.

  • Center Back
  • Left Back

PRIMARY NEED: The Union have started five different players at center back this season, including two All-Star-caliber central midfielders (Maurice Edu, Amobi Okugo) and a converted forward (Aaron Wheeler). This is a problem. If they can convince former captain Carlos Valdes to return to Philadelphia, it might just be the key to getting the Union on a winning streak.

SECONDARY NEED: Fabinho can do good work going forward, but he's a liability both 1-v-1 and reading combos defensively.

  • Nagbe to make "The Leap"
  • Defensive cohesion

PRIMARY NEED: We're still waiting for Darlington Nagbe to have that breakout month where he's suddenly the best player in the league. The talent is absolutely, 100-percent there, and he's been very good for long stretches at a time. But "very good" doesn't cut it when you have the gifts this kid does. Wait, did we say "kid?" We meant "veteran" – he's now in his fourth year and will turn 24 before season's end.

SECONDARY NEED: Gavin Wilkinson and Caleb Porter addressed one of the team’s biggest needs when they signed Liam Ridgewell to a DP contract.

  • Health
  • Step up, kids

PRIMARY NEED: This team is two deep at every position, so an outside addition is not really necessary. What they could use is a healthy Álvaro Saborío for the stretch run as they look to avenge their 2013 MLS Cup loss to Sporting Kansas City, and for Joao Plata to avoid the injury bug as well. When those guys are available, RSL rips through teams.

SECONDARY NEED: Plata's been great, but his fellow youngsters – Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez and Devon Sandoval – have been underwhelming in 2014. That has to change.

  • Target Forward
  • Right Back

PRIMARY NEED: Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon combined for 23 goals in 49 games back when the Quakes won the Supporters' Shield in 2012. Since then, they have scored just eight goals in 66 games. If they cannot get themselves back on track, it might be time to start looking for some outside help.

SECONDARY NEED: Let's go back to 2012 again and recall just how much of the attack came up that right side courtesy of Steven Beitashour. Seems like a million years ago, doesn't it?

  • Center Back
  • Health

PRIMARY NEED: Chad Marshall has turned back the clock to 2008-09, when he won consecutive Defender of the Year awards, and he will need to continue to do so, as Sigi Schmid has yet to find a permanent fixture alongside him. Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott and Djimi Traoré have all seen time, but none have been able to stand out and lock down a starting role. That'll be telling in the playoffs.

SECONDARY NEED: The Sounders have been mostly healthy this year, but suddenly Obafemi Martins has hamstring issues and Clint Dempsey's got a broken nose, while left back Leo Gonzalez is always just a step away from missing some time.

  • Center Back... maybe
  • Right Back

PRIMARY NEED: Sporting Kansas City sit in second place despite a catastrophic amount of injuries, transfers and World Cup departures. Taking this into account, we're not sure they need to be adding too many pieces; rather, they'll focus on keeping the pieces they have intact. This includes USMNT star Matt Besler, as he is the rock that can lead SKC to another MLS Cup.

SECONDARY NEED: Igor Julião has given them good minutes since Chance Myers went down for the season, but his defensive reactions are still very, very slow. Just watch the Mike Magee goal from last weekend …

  • Patience/Consistency
  • Backline maturity

PRIMARY NEED: Toronto’s whirlwind offseason saw three new DP signings, the return of Dwayne De Rosario and a new starting left side. Add into that the recent trade for pizza enthusiast Dominic Oduro, and what this team really needs is time to jell. We haven’t really been able to see this team start all their stars together and see how it works over multiple games. Until that happens, we don’t really know what they need.

SECONDARY NEED: As good as this team has looked, the defense – particularly the central defense – is capable of some shocking mistakes.

  • Options up top
  • People not to notice how good Matías Laba is

PRIMARY NEED: Buoyed by the play of Pedro Morales, the Whitecaps sit in a playoff position in the rugged Western Conference, but the departure of Kenny Miller has left the team a little thin and one-dimensional up top. Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado and Darren Mattocks all run like the wind, but if you kill their transition game, the 'Caps lack answers.

SECONDARY NEED: Laba's a boss, and at age 22, he's bound to attract bigtime overseas interest. We're encouraging Vancouver to do everything they can to keep him and build around him for the next five years at least.