You may recall that we attempted to rank the best personnel moves of 2018 near the end of the regular season, but with the playoffs still to come and MLS Cup still to be won, that was essentially the midterms.
Now that Atlanta United has battled their way through the postseason to join the fraternity of league champs, we're back to tabulate all final marks.
10) Darwin Quintero
Minnesota's human highlight reel edges out Johnny Russell because he had much less to work with around him. Some observers questioned a Designated Player-move for Quintero, but he paid off big with 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 games. Perhaps as important from the standpoint of building the local following, he added tons of flavor to the young club's game days.
Young Designated Players in defense are a rare sight, but the Columbus left back looked every bit the part from day one. Valenzuela is a smart tackler and a dangerous crosser, and does everything well in between. And the balance he provided made the Crew SC system much harder to handle.
If Montreal was going to make a decent run this past season, they simply had to have a Swiss Army knife for their midfield. In stepped Taider, and he was everything they'd hoped for. The Algeria ace kept the Impact counter fed, pointed it in the right direction and even popped up to offer some end product.
7) Borek Dockal
Santa may have been a couple months late, but boy, Philadelphia got just what they always wanted in Dockal. The Czech playmaker was a consistent source of creativity, leading the league in assists. It's only a shame he likely won't be back in 2019.
6) Kaku / Tim Parker
Though each had a difficult postseason, the Red Bulls don't take a hard-fought Supporters' Shield race without the additions of Kaku and Parker. Each was as important as the other, but at opposite ends of the field.
The ideas and silky skill of Kaku raised production in Harrison, while Parker proved an excellent beat partner for Aaron Long at RBNY's stingy back.
They didn't come into Atlanta at the same time, but the central park rangers teamed up well to help the Five Stripes claim the crown. Nagbe and Remedi were huge in the playoffs, bottling up playmakers and breaking pressure to release that scary attack.
4) Raul Ruidiaz
In the soccer game, it's not often that just the right gear drops into place and suddenly you have clockwork. Seattle knows what it's like, though. Ruidiaz didn't just score (13 in 16 games), he resurrected their season.
The ever-buzzing Peru striker annoyed the hell out of back lines, granting space and time to final-third string pullers Nicolas Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez as Seattle rose from the dumps to darned near the conference final.
3) Carlos Vela
The LAFC maestro had his record-setting expansion side tuned up from the go. Bob Bradley is the brain, but Vela is the face and the playing personality of this team.
The Mexico star was a constant annoyance to opposing defenses, as likely to curl a beauty far post as he was to slip a runner through. You can also throw a tip of the cap to Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen for this selection, as they were the guys who got Vela the ball all season long.
2) Wayne Rooney
This one could rightfully go down as a double bill. Opening act Darren Mattocks came to D.C. United via winter trade and scored eight goals before Rooney took his place on the stage in mid-July. Then, the real magic show started.
A dozen goals, seven helpers and one "The Tackle" later, Señor Wayne and friends had pulled off one of the great playoff berth rescues in MLS history as an extended house-warming party gift.
We all know the historic statistical damage he did to league defenses and 'keepers. We all know how the Galaxy, while playing through Zlatan more than to him with the closing day chips down, missed out on the big dance in heart-wrenching fashion.
On top of all the dazzling play and roller coaster drama, the brash superstar gathered endless attention. He routinely got tongues wagging not just in Los Angeles, but all across our soccer nations. And geez, he was a bargain, to boot. Sometimes, even the best moves can't fix everything.