The Major League Soccer offseason is just heating up. What has your team been up to? Here's this week's snapshot of the moves made by your club with an eye toward the 2019 season kickoff on March 2 (or mid-February for those clubs involved in the Concacaf Champions League). Note: starting XIs are obviously only projections at this early stage.
Updated on January 12
Biggest move so far: By all accounts, most notably from the player himself, it will be River Plate star Pity Martinez. But no announcement just yet.
Biggest question / hole: How much change will De Boer institute in Atlanta's MLS Cup-winning starting XI and will he continue his preferred attacking 4-3-3 formation? Is George Bello the starting left back, or could it be Brek Shea? Will Ezequiel Barco win a place in the starting lineup once he recovers from right knee tendinitis that kept him out of the South American U-20 Championship with Argentina?
Rumors have it: Josef Martinez has been approached about a new deal. On the Miguel Almiron front, the European transfer window has opened without a deal in place. There are conflicting reports as to what's holding up a deal with Newcastle: Is it Almiron's wage expectations or Newcastle's inability to meet Atlanta's valuation?
Most notable move this week: The Fire moved back from selection No. 5 to No. 15, before trading out of the pick entirely, gaining $150,000 GAM in the process. Then they traded the No. 32 selection to the Red Bulls in exchange for a player to be named later.
Biggest move so far: Re-signing Bastian Schweinsteiger. Hopefully, signing Brazilian center back Marcelo from Sporting CP means sweeper-Basti is a thing of the past, but, regardless, re-signing one of Germany's greatest ever players is a win.
Biggest question / hole: Still revamping the defense; renovations are far from over. Marcelo is a good start but Brandon Vincent retired while Johan Kappelhof and Matt Polster are out of contract with options abroad.
Rumors have it: Polster and academy product Andrew Gutman, who won the Hermann Trophy as the best player in the NCAA, are reportedly set to sign in Scotland. The Fire are reportedly close to signing 23-year-old Polish international winger Przemysław Frankowski and are loosely rumored to be interested in German second division goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm.
Most notable move this week: Another busy week from FC Cincinnati. The expansion side acquired six (!) draft picks (Nos. 13, 16, 29, 37, 61 and 85), adding to already having held the top selection, with which they selected UCLA attacking midfielder Frankie Amaya.
Biggest move so far: Starting from scratch, there have been a lot. It's tough to just name one. So, how about two? Landing Greg Garza and Kendall Waston lays the foundation for the club to be competitive from day one.
Biggest question / hole: Who will be the club's creator-in-chief? They don't have an MLS-proven chance creator on the roster, which doesn't necessarily mean that player isn't already in the dressing room, but it's definitely a question mark. Second is finding out quickly if Fanendo Adi and Darren Mattocks can effectively play together.
Rumors have it: The club missed out on the Ozzie Alonso sweepstake but have also been linked with Chilean playmaker Matias Fernandez-- Koch confirmed there was interest, though asserted no deal has been reached. They also came close to trading the No. 1 pick, but LAFC didn't meet their asking price. They've also been linked with Fire's out-of-contract center back Johan Kappelhof.
Most notable move this week: The Rapids moved up in the draft, sending $100,000 in GAM to the Fire, in order to select striker Andre Shinyashiki with the No. 5 selection, but the biggest move they made this week was signing midfielder Benny Feilhaber, first reported by MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal.
Biggest move so far: For a side that scored the fewest goals in the league last season, including getting shut out in seven of their last 10 matches of 2018, Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio will be godsends. Kamara is 34 years old, but you can put him down for at double-digit goals if he plays most games, while Rubio made the absolute most of his time on the field last year with eight goals and six assists in 781 minutes. Shinyashiki provides further striking options.
Biggest question / hole: Do they have enough creativity in their group to feed the likes of Rubio and Kamara? Do Rubio and Kamara start together or does Rubio play super sub?
Rumors have it: The Rapids have been linked with Necaxa starlet Marcelo Allende, American-born, Denmark-based defender Ryan Laursen and most recently Romanian goalscorer Claudiu Keseru (again, and despite already acquiring Kamara and Rubio as well as drafting Shinyashiki).
Columbus Crew SC
Most notable move this week: The Crew selected forward J.J. Williams from Kentucky with the 18th pick. Williams scored 18 goals last season and was a MAC Hermann trophy semi-finalist.
Biggest move so far: Aside from their new technical staff, acquiring left back Milton Valenzuela on a permanent basis is a big win for the club.
Biggest question / hole: With Federico Higuain at 34 years old, the club will need to find another No. 10 to help with the chance-creating load. And they'll need Justin Meram and Pedro Santos to help Gyasi Zardes with the goalscoring load.
Rumors have it: The club are reportedly set to sign Brazilian winger Robinho (no, not the one who played for Manchester City and AC Milan). Robinho, 23, scored eight goals in 40 appearances across all competitions last season.
Most notable move this week: D.C. nabbed defender Akeem Ward with the No. 14 selection.
Biggest move so far: With a pedigree like that of 21-year-old winger Lucas Rodriguez, he's sure to be one of the club's bigger offseason catches. The Argentine was signed on loan with option to buy.
Biggest question / hole: Of 16 players under contract at the moment, only five are defenders. On the attacking side: Lucho Acosta reportedly wants a new deal and they currently have no cover for Wayne Rooney. Is Rodriguez insurance for Acosta?
Rumors have it: It appears goalkeeper David Ousted is on his way out with Chris Seitz on his way in. The other rumors involving D.C. hover around the potential permanent return of Yamil Asad. How might the arrival of Rodriguez change that equation?
Most notable move this week: The club signed Honduran international midfielder Bryan Acosta from Spanish club Tenerife. He was added to the roster as a Designated Player. Also: Despite rumors that they might move their two top 10 SuperDraft picks, FC Dallas kept the selections and chose two defenders: Callum Montgomery (21-year-old center back) and John Nelson (20-year-old fullback).
Biggest move so far: While appointing Luchi Gonzalez as head coach is hugely important for the club both in the short and long term, signing striker Zdenek Ondrasek will be most important for 2019 if he continues the goalscoring form he showed in Norway and Poland. FCD's Achilles' heel towards the end of last season was rooted in their inability to score goals from open play.
Biggest question / hole: The roster is solid. It doesn't have a hole, per se, but the biggest question is top-end talent. Who is the best player on the team and where would he stack up alongside every other club's best player? Also, there will be questions asked about goalscoring if Pablo Aranguiz and Michael Barrios don't create enough and/or Ondrasek and Dom Badji sputter in front of goal.
Rumors have it: After the club signed Acosta, the rumor mill has gone quiet.
Most notable move this week: The Dynamo took defender Sam Junqua with the No. 8 pick.
Biggest move so far: 2018 was a tale of two Dynamo teams: One with (good) and without (not so good) Juan David Cabezas. This offseason, they've sought to rectify that by signing Matias Vera from San Lorenzo. The pair can potentially play together, but as importantly, they can also cover for each other's absence.
Biggest question / hole: Depth, especially in the attack, will come into question if Houston advance far in the Concacaf Champions League. Toronto FC's 2018 season is a testament to that. Plus, if Alberth Elis leaves, how will they replace him?
Rumors have it: All signs are pointing towards the exit door for Elis. The Honduran star said it himself that he wants to head to Europe with Turkish giants Fenerbache reportedly leading the chase. Also: A few weeks ago they were rumored to be nearing the acquisition of Honduran fullback Kevin Alvarez, though updates on that front have been sparse since.
Los Angeles Football Club
Most notable move this week: LAFC traded away their first round SuperDraft selection to FC Cincinnati, who sent it to the Red Bulls on draft day.
Biggest move so far: Re-signing Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye. Outside of Atuesta and Kaye, there aren't many (any?) defensive-minded options in Bob Bradley's midfield while Kaye's absence was felt hard after he went down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Biggest question / hole: First and foremost: Re-signing Walker Zimmerman. If they can't, they have a huge hole in defense that will need addressing immediately. Second: how does the much-hyped Andre Horta fit into the picture? At the moment, he's on the outside looking in for a starting role.
Rumors have it: LAFC are reportedly close to bringing back Zimmerman, who is at the January US national team camp.
Biggest move so far: Re-signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It's not a complex take and it wasn't a complex decision for new general manager Dennis te Kloese: Keep a player who had one of the most efficient goal contribution seasons in league history.
Biggest question / hole: Fixing the defense. There aren't any natural fullbacks under contract yet. Also, re-signing Ibrahimovic as a Designated Player does come with a roster-related headache: One of the three incumbent Designated Players – Jonathan dos Santos, Gio dos Santos or Romain Alessandrini – might need to be moved. Also: will Schelotto keep using his preferred 4-3-3?
Rumors have it: Reportedly, the Galaxy re-signed Emmanuel Boateng while Gio dos Santos has apparently rejected a transfer overture from abroad. No team or country was named in the report, though it's one to keep an eye on.
Minnesota United FC
Most notable move this week: Minnesota inked Ozzie Alonso, one of the best defensive midfielders to ever grace Major League Soccer, to a two-year deal.
Biggest move so far: Minnesota signed their third Designated Player, defensive midfielder Jan Gregus, from FC Copenhagen, who featured in the Champions League and has 22 caps for the Slovak national team.
Biggest question / hole: The Loons' defensive unit has conceded 70+ goals in both of the club’s MLS seasons so far. How many goals conceded will Alonso and Gregus be able to cut for the club? Can Alonso stay healthy and at his best? Will Angelo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero gel?
Rumors have it: The Loons are reportedly chasing Ligue 1 fullback Romain Metanire from Stade Reims. Apparently there are no legs to the Kevin Quevedo rumors, at least with regards to the Loons.
Biggest move so far: Trading for forward Maxi Urruti. With goalscoring wingers flanking him, he's is in a good spot to succeed, since he won’t need to carry the goalscoring load with the likes of Nacho Piatti and Saphir Taider in the team.
Biggest question / hole: How will the club replace Silva's production? Also: If re-signed, how will Rod Fanni fare at age 37?
Rumors have it: Apparently the club are interested in Ligue 1 striker Yaya Sanogo as well as being loosely linked to Galaxy's Romain Alessandrini.
New England Revolution
Most notable move this week: If you told Brad Friedel before the SuperDraft started that he'd walk away with Tajon Buchanan and Dejuan Jones with the No. 9 and No. 11 selections, I'm not sure he'd believe you. Now, the Revs have two extremely pacey options on the wings and, in Buchanan, someone who was in discussion to be one of the top selections in the draft.
Biggest move so far: Trading Kelyn Rowe for Edgar Castillo. Left back has been a rotating door with Chris Tierney battling injuries before retirement. At 32 years old, Castillo might not be a solution for the next decade, but he’ll be one of the first names on the team sheet in 2019.
Biggest question / hole: Squad depth (or upgrades) at a couple of key positions: namely at center back (can Mancienne, Anibaba and Delamea handle the load of an entire season?) and central playmaker, where Diego Fagundez is the only obvious choice. Winger (after Agudelo and Penilla, Bunbury would be next in line) was a concern before the draft.
Rumors have it: The Revs are targeting multiple "above max salary" additions. The first was forward Juan Fernando Caicedo.
New York City FC
Most notable move this week: NYCFC traded up to select goalkeeper Luis Barraza with the No. 12 pick of the SuperDraft.
Biggest move so far: NYCFC really haven’t made any "big" moves yet. They signed Tony Rocha, but he won’t be the main prize of the offseason.
Biggest question / hole: How will the club replace forward David Villa and central mid Yangel Herrera? Is James Sands ready for a full-time role?
Rumors have it: MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal reports that NYCFC are close to acquiring US national team midfielder Keaton Parks while Jo Inge Berget is linked with a move back to Scandanavia. Also, keep an eye out – that Designated Player spot vacated by Villa isn't likely to go unused.
New York Red Bulls
Most notable move this week: The Red Bulls made a few trades on draft day, making four selections in the first two rounds.
Biggest move so far: Re-signing Tim Parker. After breaking an MLS record for points, it’s never easy to hang on to the whole squad.
Biggest question / hole: How does the club replace Tyler Adams’ presence in the midfield? Can Cristian Casseres Jr. do it? Adams covered so much ground and put out so many fires — he was the linchpin of a pressing team.
Orlando City SC
Most notable move this week: The club drafted Santiago Patino with the No. 3 selection of the SuperDraft, after being unable to classify him as a Homegrown player.
Biggest move so far: There have been too many moves amid the Lions’ overhaul to name just one. Danilo Acosta and Joao Moutinho with fresh starts are intriguing and Jhegson Sebastian Mendez has big shoes to fill in the midfield.
Biggest question / hole: For a team that broke the MLS record for most goals conceded in a season, defending is still concern No. 1. In attack, can Sacha Kljestan and Dom Dwyer return to their top form?
Rumors have it: The rumors have barely kept up with official Orlando transactions, but, the club are reportedly interested in Brazilian midfielder Diego.
Most notable move this week: The Union traded every single one of their MLS SuperDraft picks, citing their successful academy as why.
Biggest question / hole: Who picks up the creative load in the likelihood that Borek Dockal doesn’t return? Ernst Tanner doubled down on the young backline he inherited by ostensibly handing opportunities for minutes to 21-year-old Olivier Mbaizo and 19-year-old Matthew Real at fullback, flanking Auston Trusty (20) and Mark McKenzie (19) in the middle.
Rumors have it: Mario Balotelli was linked to Philly— but Tanner quickly shot that down before we even had the chance to dream. Tanner also was adamant in saying that a left back will be signed.
Most notable move this week: The club and Liam Ridgewell mutually agreed to part ways.
Biggest move so far: Without much by way of incomings, Alvas Powell's trade to Cincy is the biggest move thus far. But that'll change soon-- right?
Rumors have it: Timbers president and general manager Gavin Wilkinson said earlier in December that the club is targeting “three or four players who can fight for starting spots.” Claude Dielna is reported to be one, who comes next?
Real Salt Lake
Biggest move so far: RSL signed playmaker Albert Rusnak to a new deal last week edges the important acquisition of Everton Luiz-- Unless one of the new Homegrowns takes everyone by surprise during preseason.
Biggest question / hole: So, what position does Damir Kreilach play now? He was bought as a central midfielder but played a false nine role to unexpected success last season. Lastly: Can a central midfield of Kreilach and Kyle Beckerman work if Luiz doesn't work out or gets hurt? (I can hear Matt Doyle aggressively shaking his head "no.")
Rumors have it: That striker they could use is reportedly on the way: RSL are rumored to have struck a deal with 30-year-old Argentine striker German Cano, who scored 32 goals in 47 games in Colombia this season.
San Jose Earthquakes
Most notable move this week: Eyeing an attacker who could make an immediate impact, the Quakes signed 23-year-old Argentine winger Cristian Espinoza on loan from Villarreal, who was most recently with Boca Juniors on loan. But it was a busy week in San Jose; the club also took a long view by acquiring 19-year-old Peruvian left back Marcos Lopez, signing him to a multi-year deal using TAM.
Biggest move so far: Appointing head coach Matias Almeyda. In need of a culture change, San Jose went out and inked, by all accounts, a coach who can create one. But Espinoza has the potential to be the club's biggest move. Cristian Espinoza, a 23-year-old Argentine winger signed on loan from Villarreal, could be an important signing too.
Biggest question / hole: The Quakes finished with the worst record in 2018, but Almeyda may be able to get more out of this experienced group. With little roster flexibility, it might be necessary.
Rumors have it: Free agent defender Benjamin Galindo Jr., whose father is an assistant coach for Almeyda, has been linked with a move to San Jose.
Most notable move this week: The Sounders lost Ozzie Alonso to the Loons and drafted midfielder Tucker Bone with the No. 20 selection of the SuperDraft.
Biggest move so far: With no non-draft additions outside of Jonathan Campbell, locking up Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan to long-term deals (assuming reports are accurate) should be welcome news to fans, even if there are some questions as to the cap consternations it may cause in the future.
Rumors have it: Lodeiro was a reported target for Cruz Azul, though the smoke around that rumor has died down, as did reports linking him with a return to Boca Juniors.
Most notable move this week: SKC drafted defender Kemar Marriott with the No. 21 selection of the SuperDraft.
Biggest move so far: The Rowe trade, which saw Diego Rubio head to Colorado. Vermes could hardly contain his excitement when he admitted he's long been an admirer of Rowe's, but now Erik Hurtado and Krisztian Nemeth are battling it out at the top of the depth chart...
Biggest question / hole: ... which serves as the club's biggest question: striker. If SKC don't bring anyone in, they're forced to rely upon Hurtado, who has 12 goals in 105 MLS appearances, and Nemeth, who has 2 goals in his last 30 MLS games (albeit just 11 starts, and let's not forget his 10-goal season for SKC in 2015) Still: not ideal. Plus, there are serious question marks around Ike Opara's future, especially after he asked the club to consider trading him. Then SKC went ahead and signed a Hungarian international center back.
Rumors have it: Nothing, yet, but stay glued to new reports during silly season around Opara and a mystery striker that SKC may or may not be signing.
Most notable move this week: Toronto selected midfielder Griffin Dorsey with the No. 6 pick of the SuperDraft.
Biggest move so far: Signing three-time All-Star and 2015 MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman after an apocalyptic defensive injury crisis in 2018. Not only was he playing at a Best XI level before departing LAFC in August, he helps bring true depth to the Toronto backline, ditto with the signing of MLS veteran Nick DeLeon for the fullback position.
Biggest question / hole: How does the club approach an offseason in which all three of their big names – Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore – are heading into the final year of their contracts? Is it time to lock in one or more of them? Or does the club try to cash in and groom potential successors? Will there be a focus on getting younger?
Rumors have it: Keep an eye on Giovinco's Instagram as he's not-so-cryptically angling for a new deal. Also, the club are reported to have declined the option of keeping Lucas Janson on a permanent basis.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Most notable move this week: The Whitecaps didn't have a first round pick, and have largely been quiet again this week despite their relatively barren roster.
Biggest move so far: Granting new head coach Marc Dos Santos a blank slate. Vancouver really freed up roster spots, international slots and cap space amid moves that saw Kei Kamara, Kendall Waston, Brek Shea, Nicolas Mezquida, Cristian Techera and Aly Ghazal exit the club, not to mention Alphonso Davies' record-breaking transfer to Bayern Munich. What will MDS do with all the space and money?
Biggest question / hole: Without Kamara, Davies, Techera and Shea, the club will be without four of their top five goalscorers from last season. Waston was a constant on the back line for four-and-a-half seasons. Predicting a starting XI for the club is a fool's errand (one that this fool will do about two lines down).
Rumors have it: The club has been lightly linked to Brighton & Hove Albion striker Jurgen Locadia and more strongly linked to South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom. Expect many more names to pop up before March 2.