We're now less than two weeks away from the close of the first Major League Soccer transfer window of the year, and most teams have probably identified areas they'd like to enhance before it slams shut.
Everyone from early strugglers to fast starters covering holes well to contenders looking to muscle up for a title run are eager to find (at least) one more impact addition before the weather heats up. Some of these need situations are sticking out like sore thumbs and we're here to point them out.
The expansion side's attack is looking good and they surely still need more midfielders, but there's a catch coming this summer. A pair of vital keys to LAFC end product will likely shove off for World Cup duty before too long.
And if both Carlos Vela and Marco Ureña do clock out for at least a month, there's no one available to consistently meet the level of Diego Rossi around the area. If they can find someone who can displace defenders like Ureña while pitching in with some goals like Vela, it could keep them in solid playoff position until their boys are done over in Russia.
The Sounders will also be affected by World Cup. They'll certainly miss Panama hero Roman Torres in defense, but their last high-ceiling spark plug goes on hiatus if midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro is also chosen for Uruguay's squad. For a team already stumbling out of the blocks offensively, the early warning siren at club HQ should be blaring.
Plain and simple, Seattle needs a solid goal threat with the speed to keep opponents honest. But should it be a true central playmaker (unlike wandering Nico)? A striker? An inverted winger?
Considering all the options they have for stationing the rest of the attack stable, I'm not sure it actually matters much. Just make sure the pick-up operates at pace well enough to stretch defenders and lead counter breakouts.
Plenty of observers have spoken about Atlanta's continuing need to bring in a new midfield ball winner to succeed the departed Carlos Carmona. To set Miguel Almiron and the rest of Tata Martino's thoroughbreds loose, somebody has to force turnovers in the midfield.
It's not that we don't appreciate Jeff Larentowicz, who is definitely good enough to aid in a 4-1-1 with +7 goal differential start. It's just that, at 34, he won't be able to hold up week in and week out through the summer and beyond.
It seems as though Stephane Mbia won't be signing on and the deadline for reinforcement is fast approaching, so you can bet that Carlos Bocanegra and his player personnel minions are working overtime to strengthen this position.
New England Revolution
Lee Nguyen has averaged 10.5 goals and 10 assists per season over the last four years. He also was a preseason holdout looking for an improved deal for three weeks, and hasn't dressed this season. Despite this, the Revolution have refused trade offers.
If head coach Brad Friedel likes his side best manned by other players, fine. He's the boss. But if Nguyen is indeed surplus to requirements, asset management dictates he be moved for a handsome return. There's no reason to sit on a big ticket No. 10 that other MLS clubs are craving when he isn't even required for bench duty.
For most of the Fire's offseason, speculation centered on how the Fire should and could fulfill their wish for a table-setter in attack. Analysis of and reportage on this situation has extended into the regular season.
As shrewd as such an acquisition would be, such talk ignores their true top need. For no better reason than the fact that Bastian Schweinsteiger belongs in their midfield pack with Dax McCarty, Chicago desperately needs a center back with a calming influence. Jonathan Campbell, who is returning from injury, or Homegrown Grant Lillard could fill that role, but both are still mostly unproven.
The Fire have come out of the gate allowing more than two goals per game and Schweinsteiger is sorely missed in the engine room, from both a creative and a pragmatic standpoint. The rest of the stable is currently weighed down by uncertainties, and at absolute best, moving the German star out of his usual station only temporarily pushes that type of worry to the midfield line.