There’s still a couple of months before opening day and plenty of acquisitions still to be made this winter, but the first month of the MLS offseason has been an active time for quite a few clubs.
Which winter moves have been the best? Let’s dive in:
10. Kamara sent to Vancouver
By his own admission, Kei Kamara never really fit in New England. The Revs were stocked with solid attacking options, and Kamara was a bit surplus to requirements at Gillette Stadium. That didn’t leave New England with much leverage in trade talks, something Vancouver took full advantage of by sending a couple of draft picks to the Revs in exchange for the veteran striker. He probably won’t set the world on fire in 2018, but Kamara should be a solid fit in the Whitecaps’ direct, cross-heavy system.
9. San Jose trade Bingham to LA
I was never really on board with San Jose’s somewhat puzzling decision to bench David Bingham last season, but, with it apparent that he wouldn’t return to the club in 2018, the Quakes did well to get value for him in the trade market this winter. San Jose shipped the rights to the veteran ‘keeper to the Galaxy in December in exchange for $250,000 in allocation money. He’s still unsigned with LA; should he opt for a foreign option instead of the Galaxy, this trade will look even better for the Quakes.
8. Bradley lands familiar face in Gaber
Capable of playing as a fullback or a wide midfielder, LAFC landed a talented, intriguing piece in Omar Gaber. The 25-year-old Egyptian international worked with LAFC coach Bob Bradley while he managed Egypt, and, though he didn’t feature all the much for Swiss club FC Basel, has the talent to be one of the best wide defenders in all of MLS.
7. See ya, SKC: Feilhaber joins LAFC
Benny Feilhaber’s numbers took a bit of a step back in 2017, but, even at 32, the attacking midfielder is a proven talent in MLS. He knows the league, knows manager Bob Bradley and knows Southern California very well. He won’t draw the headlines of Carlos Vela and doesn’t pack the punch of some of Atlanta’s attacking signings last winter, but that’s fine. Every expansion club needs MLS knowhow, and the skilled Feilhaber has plenty. For $400,000 in allocation money, the price wasn’t too high, either, particularly with the increased kitty given to expansion teams. That’s still a solid haul for Kansas City, though, and should create some room for new attacking DP Yohan Croizet.
6. Dallas net haul from LAFC for Zimmerman
The December deal that sent Walker Zimmerman from Dallas to LAFC was a pretty clear win for both clubs. Bob Bradley’s expansion side got a young, talented center back with the potential to become a regular US international. Dallas jettisoned a player who’d grown unhappy at the club and netted a sizable return of $500,000 in allocation money and the No. 1 spot in the Allocation Ranking order. We’ll see how they use both in the coming months.
5. LAFC sign Diego Rossi to DP deal
Though not quite as highly rated as some of the other South American youngsters who have recently joined the league, Diego Rossi looks like he’ll be a big-time player for LAFC. The 19-year-old Uruguayan signed a Young Designated Player deal with the expansion club after a successful couple of years at Peñarol, where he recorded 13 goals and 11 assists in 51 total appearances in league, cup, Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana action.
4. Sacha shipped to Orlando
Sacha Kljestan will be a big player for Orlando in 2018, and the Lions will have a good shot at qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in club history if he’s able to maintain his form from the last few years. Still, they paid a steep price for the 32-year-old. Sending 20-year-old US youth national team center back Tommy Redding, a product of Orlando’s academy, to New York could be a particularly big loss. Redding hasn’t yet lived up to his potential, but he’s got a load of talent. If he raises his game, he’s got the ability to attract serious European suitors and a multimillion-dollar transfer fee. Orlando are betting the move will pay off, but it could sting the Lions down the road if Redding makes good on his promise.
3. LAFC lands Ciman on the cheap
John Thorrington had never run an Expansion Draft, but the LAFC GM put on a clinic on how to manage one in December. He used two of his five selections to nab Raheem Edwards from Toronto and Jukka Raitala from Columbus, then sent the two fullbacks to Montreal in exchange for Ciman. The Belgian international didn’t have a great 2017 with the Impact and is no spring chicken at 32, but he’s still plenty skilled. The 2015 MLS Defender of the Year should form a stout partnership with Zimmerman.
2. Nagbe the new man in Atlanta
While Portland are losing one of the defining figures of their MLS era, the deal that sent Darlington Nagbe to Atlanta in December feels like another trade that will become a win for both clubs. The Timbers got a huge haul for the talented attacker, with a guaranteed $1 million in allocation headed their way from Atlanta. That’s a lot of extra cash for them to build around Diego Valeri and friends. The Five Stripes got a slick player in Nagbe, and they used the extra allocation cash leftover from the bolstered bundle given to expansion clubs to nab him. Assuming the Timbers sign a capable replacement, this trade looks pretty good for both teams.
1. A new South American star for NYCFC
NYCFC took a page out of Atlanta’s book this winter, when they signed budding South American star Jesus Medina to a four-year deal via transfer from Paraguayan side Club Libertad. A talented left-footed attacking midfielder, the 20-year-old Paraguayan international is already a five-time champion with Libertad, where he scored 17 goals in 74 appearances and helped the club to the semifinals of the 2017 Copa Sudamericana. Like his countryman Miguel Almiron in Atlanta, Medina will occupy a Designated Player spot for NYCFC, who will be expecting huge things from the talented attacker in 2018.