Wayne Rooney - DC United - kicking
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Wiebe: The five big winners from this year's Secondary Transfer Window

Major League Soccer’s Secondary Transfer Window is officially closed. That doesn’t mean your team can’t find a way to improve before playoff time – this year’s roster freeze date is Sept. 14 – but we basically know what all 23 teams are working with ahead of 2018’s final stretch.

Tradition dictates that someone must name the window’s winners. This year, that someone is me. Below I’ve listed ins and outs and net allocation expenditure. I only considered moves that occurred during the Secondary Transfer Window, from July 10 to Aug. 8.

Be forewarned, this was a weird window. Lots of contenders stood pat, some for salary cap reasons. Others, like the Union, were in a state of transition. It wasn’t particularly busy, which is a bummer.

Let’s do this, in no particular order than my personal whims. Your thoughts/grades/abuse goes in the comment section.

DC United


  • F - Wayne Rooney (6/28/18 - transfer from Everton)
  • D - Vytas (8/8/18 - trade from Portland)
  • GK - Bill Hamid (8/8/18 - loan from FC Midtjylland)

NET: $100k TAM


  • F - Patrick Mullins (7/12/18 - traded to Columbus)

Regardless of what you think about Wayne Rooney’s ability to be an impact player, both immediately and through the life of his Designated Player contract, it’s still a huge coup for the club from both a sporting and business perspective.

When you factor in the return of Bill Hamid (albeit on loan) from his short-lived European adventure, a cut-rate flier on a starting left back in his prime and positive net in the allocation column, it’s pretty clear general manager Dave Kasper had his second straight impressive summer window.

Will it be enough to get D.C. United within sniffing distance of the playoffs? Probably not, but there’s always 2019.

Portland Timbers


  • M - Tomas Conechny (7/17/18 - loan from San Lorenzo)    
  • D - Jorge Villafaña (8/8/18 - allocation ranking from Santos Laguna)
  • F - Lucas Melano (8/9/18 - return from loan)

NET: $950k allocation ($50k GAM, $50k TAM, $450k in 2019 GAM, $400k in 2019 TAM + up to $140k in future allocation money)


  • F - Fanendo Adi (7/30/18 - traded to FC Cincinnati)    
  • D - Vytas (8/8/18 - traded to D.C. United)
  • 2018 international roster spot

Gavin Wilkinson’s moves were more about the sum of all parts than a single, splashy move.

Jorge Villafana’s return is a feel-good story, and he should immediately be one of the league’s top left backs. He’ll give the Portland Timbers more attacking width, even if Zarek Valentin was doing the job for much less than El Sueno’s TAM deal will end up costing. Depth is always good.

If Tomas Conechny (low-risk loan) and Lucas Melano can combine for a couple goals and assists, those moves will pay off as well, given Portland’s need for more credible attacking threats to keep opponents from zeroing in on Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and Samuel Armenteros.

To make those moves, Wilkinson had to engineer some cap flexibility. He did that via the kitty of allocation money ($950k total over 2018 and 2019) that arrived in return for Fanendo Adi and Vytas, both of whom were high-priced reserves. That both ended up on Eastern Conference teams is an extra bonus.

Columbus Crew SC


  • F - Patrick Mullins (7/12/18 - trade from D.C. United)        
  • M - Justin Meram (8/3/18 - trade from Orlando City)
  • 2019 international roster spot


  • N/A

NET: $850k TAM

That’s good math for Gregg Berhalter.

Orlando City basically paid Columbus $300k GAM to rent Justin Meram for six months. That’s close to free money given where each currently stand in the table. Crew SC’s biggest summer need was a winger who could contribute goals and assists and fit the system. They got their archetype back … highly motivated, I might add.

They also needed another forward option should an injury or slump in form slow down Gyasi Zardes. Patrick Mullins was a liable-to-go-on-a-tear target who fit the poacher profile Berhalter’s style of play demands, and only cost $150K worth of TAM.

Los Angeles Football Club


  • D - Danilo Silva (8/3/18 - loan from Internacional)    
  • F - Christian Ramirez (8/6/18 - trade from Minnesota)        
  • F - Josh Perez (8/8/18 - free)
  • 2018 international roster spot


  • D/M - Omar Gaber (7/12/18 - transferred to Pyramids FC)
  • Fourth Round pick in 2019 SuperDraft

NET: $850k allocation ($300k GAM, $100k TAM, $250k 2019 GAM, $200k 2019 TAM + up to $200k in future allocation money)

You’ve got to pay for quality, and LAFC did that to get Christian Ramirez from Minnesota United, a trade that could end up costing $1 million in allocation. Ramirez is yet another attacking piece for a club that already boasts a glut of options, but Adama Diomande is hurt and Marco Urena always felt like the short-term solution. In Ramirez, John Thorrington landed a forward who has averaged half a goal per game in MLS, boasts SoCal roots and is TAM-eligible.

LAFC also went back to Bob Bradley’s rolodex to pick up veteran Danilo Silva, who can fill in all along the backline and perhaps at defensive midfield, and brings more than a decade of professional experience. Josh Perez is a U.S. youth international for the future.

There’s a big wildcard, too. What did Pyramids FC pay for Omar Gaber? LAFC could have banked up to $750k GAM from that deal, depending on the price tag. No matter the fee, an international spot and cap space opened up.

Sporting Kansas City


  • F - Krisztian Nemeth (8/6/18 - trade from New England)        
  • D - Andreu Fontas (8/8/18 - free)


  • D - Emiliano Amor (8/8/18 - mutually agreed to part ways)
  • Natural first-round pick in 2020 SuperDraft

NET: $350k allocation ($250k in TAM, $100k in GAM)

For all the talk, that big-money, big-talent No. 9 signing never materialized (again). That’s a demerit, certainly, but Peter Vermes made the best of it.

Krisztian Nemeth is back for less than the New England Revolution paid to acquire him a year ago, and we know what Nemeth is capable of when he’s wearing Sporting blue. Still, he scored the vast majority of those 2015 goals as a winger with Dom Dwyer ahead of him, and there’s no guarantee he’ll still be that player after one goal and three assists in 21 regular-season appearances with New England. It’s not ideal, but Vermes could have stood pat up top and he didn’t.

Andreu Fontas has the resume to be the third quality central defender Kansas City needs after the Emiliano Amor move fell flat. His La Liga resume looks good on paper and he should be able to settle quickly with a couple former Barca B teammates to lean on … but he hasn’t been a starter for Celta in three seasons and he’s signed long-term on TAM. There’s some risk there.