Here it is, the first-ever list of MLS free agents. It's awash in former All-Stars, fringe US men's national team players, MLS Cup champions and guys who've scored 50+ goals in their career.
It also features the last remaining MLS player who's older than me. Please, somebody pick up Jon Busch!
I expect a few of these guys to sign with their former clubs, and many more to end up scattered throughout the league. Most still have gas in the tank and are capable of helping teams in this league on one level or another.
These are the eight that've caught my eye:
1. Alan Gordon, F -- Gordon's the only current national teamer in the list, and even though he's 34 he's proved his value for both club and country. Last year he scored seven goals across all comps for the Galaxy, primarily coming off the bench as a game-changing super-sub. Obviously it's his size and willing to mix it up in the 18 that attract the most notice -- he is a throw-back target forward -- but he has much better vision than most realize. His championship-winning experience is the type of thing that could help a young team on the edge of title contention.
I made this video that goes into great detail breaking down his strengths and weaknesses:
He's also a SoCal native, and I expect him to end up back with the Galaxy.
Teams that would make sense: LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Dallas, D.C. United, Sporting KC, New York City FC
2. Ricardo Clark, M -- Clark is a box-to-box destroyer who had his best season (by the numbers) last year with eight goals and one assist. It's an outlier -- he won't replicate those stats in 2016, especially since he turns 33 in February. But he'll give an honest effort, cover a ton of ground on both sides of the ball, and happily do the dirty work. He'd be best paired with a regista, a deep-lying pure passer who could sit deep and allow Clark the freedom to roam, perhaps in a 4-3-3.
I've heard whispers that he's already re-signed with Houston.
Teams that would make sense: Houston Dynamo,
New York City FC, D.C. United (if Perry Kitchen leaves), Philadelphia Union
3. Justin Mapp, W -- Electric pace, a cultured left foot and the ability to hit the last pass on the move. It still stuns me that Mapp -- who didn't always take his fitness seriously in his younger days, but evolved into a pro's pro by the time he moved to Philly in 2010 -- didn't have a long and fruitful USMNT career. He missed most of last season with a series of arm injuries, but when he played he did stuff like this:
If not for the injuries I'd have him at No. 1 on this list. He's still just 31, though, and last season was an aberration health-wise as he'd played more than 1600 minutes in each of the previous four years.
Given Montreal's glut of wingers, my guess is they're unlikely to re-sign him, and there's one clear front-runner (scroll down to the last player on the list to see what I mean).
Teams that would make sense: Sporting KC, Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas, Orlando City, D.C. United, San Jose Earthquakes
4. Drew Moor, CB -- I list Moor at center back instead of right back, which is where he played a good chunk of last season for Colorado. He's not great at defending in space, so I thought that was a mis-application of his skills. What he's really good at is organizing a defense, and his distribution from the back is quick, accurate and no-frills. He needs to be paired next to a dominant physical presence in central defense, but lots of teams can offer that. What he offers in turn is the type of veteran leadership and organizing presence Nat Borchers brought to Portland, Michael Parkhurst to Columbus or Bobby Boswell to D.C.
He'll turn 32 next month, and I think he'll be good for another 2000 or so minutes for the next few years.
Teams that would make sense: Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution, New York City FC, Toronto FC
5. Corey Ashe, LB -- A 29-year-old left back who's two-footed and can still ball more than just a little bit:
Ashe never quite made it to international level and he can have the occasional nap defensively, but he's a legit good player in this league and has been for a long time. I'm still not sure why both Houston and OCSC decided he wasn't worth keeping around.
I've got to think he's a mortal lock to reunite with his old head coach Dom Kinnear in San Jose.
Teams that would make sense: San Jose Earthquakes, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders, Colorado Rapids
6. Jeff Larentowicz, D/M -- Larentowicz was in a bad situation with the Fire, trying to learn a new position while surrounded by an ever-changing cast of kids and playing in a system -- a classic, flat 4-4-2 -- that makes it really, really tough on center backs. He especially struggled dealing with crosses, but given everything he was working with (and against) I thought he did well with the hand he was dealt. He'd be a good third central defender in the rotation, while still being able to moonlight as a back-up d-mid, and at age 32 he's not done yet.
Teams that would make sense: New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, Sporting KC, Montreal Impact
7. Ned Grabavoy, M -- Played out of position on a broken foot with a mess of a club last year, and earned the ire of a large swathe of the fanbase. But you know what? He still created 32 chances from open play and completed more than 86 percent of his passes. Of players with 30 or more open play chances created, only Darlington Nagbe and Jonathan Osorio were more accurate in their distribution.
The ability to not turn the ball over is a valuable and somehow underappreciated skill. Grabavoy fits with any teams that want to build play methodically, and he does a ton of dirty work defensively as well. He'll be 33 next summer so he's probably not a fulltime starter anymore, but he can be in the rotation for a good team.
Teams that make sense: LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact
8. Mike Magee, F -- Magee's a former MVP and one of the smartest players on the field no matter who he's playing with or against -- the game never, ever gets too fast for his brain. But he's been injury prone his entire career and, at 31, is coming off of two years mostly spent on the sidelines with a variety of ailments.
It also needs to be pointed out that he's had his best success in two-forward set-ups. Of course, that hasn't stopped execs from certain well-known 4-3-3 teams from expressing interest right out of the gates:
Teams that make sense: Sporting KC, LA Galaxy, FC Dallas