The 2015 MLS season saw another influx of big-name players, matched only by the number of shrewd, under-the-radar signings, many of which proved transformative for the teams involved.
Most anyone who paid attention to MLS this year knows that one of this year’s arrivals stood out above the rest, though, as evidenced by both the numbers and the end-of-season awards balloting.
Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco arrived at the club with plenty of fanfare, and backed it all up, posting one of the best statistical seasons ever recorded in MLS with 22 goals and 16 assists en route to picking up both MVP and Newcomer of the Year honors.
For more on Giovinco’s acquisition and the other transactions of the year, as voted on by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff, read on:
MLSsoccer.com Transactions of the Year
1. Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC: The Italian international was signed from Serie A leaders Juventus on Jan. 19, 2015 as a Designated. Sure, he was riding the pine at the Old Lady, but he still could’ve chosen any number of top-flight teams in his home country.
Instead, he opted for a new adventure with the Reds. And while many players require an adjustment period, Giovinco hit the ground running, putting up two goals and two assists in his first five games, and stayed consistent throughout the year, leading Toronto to their first playoff berth and returning to the Italian national team setup to help them qualify for Euro 2016.
The Ivorian legend landed at the Impact on an 18-month contract on July 27, 2015, after Montreal gave up both general and targeted allocation money to the Chicago Fire, who held his discovery rights and were interested in signing the striker. Though Impact fans had to wait nearly a month for his debut, he quickly proved to be a hit in Quebec. Drogba scored 11 goals in 11 games to help the Impact to a playoff berth, where they thumped rivals Toronto FC, 3-0, in the Knockout Round before falling to eventual Eastern Conference champions Columbus Crew SC.
3. Felipe, New York Red Bulls: On January 27, 2015, the Red Bulls sent Ambroise Oyongo, Eric Alexander and an international roster slot to the Montreal Impact in exchange for Felipe, a central midfielder, and the top spot in the allocation order.
It may seem like your run-of-the-mill MLS trade, but the crafty bit of maneuvering from newly-appointed Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis set the Red Bulls up for perhaps the best season in club history. The very next day, New York used that top spot in the allocation order to acquire returning US international Sacha Kljestan to complete what would become one of the most formidable central midfield trios in the 2015 MLS season, alongside mainstay Dax McCarty.
The move not only set up the Red Bulls for a second Supporters’ Shield win in three years, it would also go a long way towards the earning the fans’ trust in the new regime of Curtis and head coach Jesse Marsch after the controversial firing of club legend Mike Petke.