Dome Torrent  - close up - looking at field
USA TODAY Sports

Five big questions around MLS still to be answered this offseason

There has been a few quiet days amid the Major League Soccer offseason, but there is still much work to do for the league's 24 clubs ahead of the 2019 season. 

Here are five big questions still to be answered:

1. Will Miguel Almiron leave Atlanta and Pity Martinez join as expected?

The European transfer window has opened but no deal for Miguel Almiron has been announced, or even speculated too closely. Reports have receded when they were expected to proliferate. Atlanta United president Darren Eales has said all along that he wouldn't sell Miggy on a cut-rate deal and hasn't ruled out an Atlanta return if the price is wrong. 

Newcastle had been Almiron's most likely destination, according to recent rumors, but the latest reports suggest the Premier League club have been priced out of a move. La Liga's Real Betis are said to have entered the chase, but reports linking Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham and others over the last few months didn't amount to much. 

All the while, River Plate star "Pity" Martinez has been talking about his potential move to Atlanta United. But the club hasn't announced anything. 

One theory is that Atlanta might be waiting to sell Almiron before announcing Martinez so Eales doesn't lose bargaining power. Or, they'll have to get creative with next season's roster.

According to The Athletic's Paul Tenorio, in an interview with Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there's no way Atlanta can have Almiron, Pity Martinez, Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco on the roster at the same time in 2019, as they'd all be Designated Players.

2. What will the LA Galaxy do with their Designated Player slots?

Speaking of the DP merry-go-round, the LA Galaxy have inherited a similar problem to Atlanta: One too many DPs now that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is re-signed. 

That leaves the future of Gio dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini up in the air. Alessandrini is reportedly a target for the Montreal Impact

The Galaxy have appointed Dennis te Kloese as general manager and, now, Guillermo Barros Schelotto as head coach. They have time to sort their roster, including making vast changes to the back line, but the future of their highest-paid players is one to watch.

3. A new chapter for Columbus Crew SC

Crew SC are staying in Columbus and transitioning to a new ownership group. At the same time, the club saw head coach and technical director Gregg Berhalter become head coach of the US national team and 2018 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Zack Steffen be sold to Manchester City, though he won't leave until the summer. 

Firmly, Crew SC are headed into a new era. According to MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal, Crew SC are hiring Toronto FC GM Tim Bezbatchenko to become club president. Bezbatchenko helped mastermind Toronto's shift to MLS elite in recent years, signing Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore en route to making back-to-back MLS Cup finals, and hoisting the trophy in 2017. 

In Columbus, he's likely to be joined by head coach Caleb Porter, who Stejskal reports will take over as head coach. Exciting times in Columbus.  

4. With combine and draft to come, FC Cincinnati continue to gear up for year one

FC Cincinnati aimed to have most of their roster sorted by Christmas, bar additions to come from January 11's MLS SuperDraft, and have stayed true to their word (we'll let Alvas Powell's Dec. 27 addition slide under the blanket of "close enough.") Now, they're on the clock. With the first pick in the 2019 SuperDraft, FCC will further accentuate a formidable roster led by Fanendo Adi, Kendall Waston and Greg Garza

Who will it be, and what kind of impact can the mystery No. 1 make on FC Cincy in year one?

5. How will NYCFC replace David Villa?

David Villa has been synonymous with NYCFC since he was announced as their first player in June of 2014. On top of Villa's ageless quality and commitment, NYCFC will have to replace the stability he gave the club. All of a sudden, NYCFC are in a bit of flux. 

Their transition from Patrick Vieira to Dome Torrent did not operate as smoothly as planned last season, with NYCFC losing ground in the eye test, points gained and advanced metrics as the season wore on. They still won a playoff round, after dealing with injuries throughout Torrent's tenure, but won't be able to rely on Villa next season. 

NYCFC now have an open Designated Player slot, though. If they intend to take that route for Villa's replacement, it'll be the biggest decision they make this offseason. 


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