There's been a flurry of roster moves in recent days around MLS with the 2019 season fully over. What are some of the notable departures around the league?
The following list highlights players who are out of contract or who haven't had contract options picked up in recent days, and who are unlikely to return to their 2019 team. They could in theory return to their last club, but for these players, word on the street is they are moving on, and some could be in another MLS side's colors come 2020.
The forward/midfielder is the ultimate "high upside" player, but Agudelo showed a versatile skillset across multiple New England Revolution regimes. Still just 26, he seems to have a market as a depth/utility piece for a number of teams in the league and is likely to get snapped up.
Juan David Cabezas
The Houston Dynamo were unquestionably better when the Colombian was in the lineup, but there are concerns over the 28-year-old's durability, as he's battled injuries the past two seasons. Don't be surprised if Cabezas is back in Houston on a new deal, but if the Dynamo opt to move on, there are several teams likely eager to take a flyer on him.
It's not altogether surprising Fabian is leaving the Philadelphia Union, but it's still notable. Fabian joined Philly as a high-risk, high-reward option, someone who is a terrific attacker, able to create chances and finish them with aplomb when in form, but whose years of injury woes meant he could fail to really take off. That happened and the Mexican's MLS tenure is likely to be just the one-year stint with the Union.
Gaitan is in a similar position to Fabian, a player who, the hope was, would be an attacking Designated Player to build around for 4-5 years, but while Gaitan was influential for the Chicago Fire in 2019, he never really hit top form on an underachieving team. Gaitan's profile in global soccer is much higher, however, and he's already being linked to moves to the Premier League in January.
A few of the players on this are beloved by their MLS team's fanbase, but none more than Ibarra. His history with Minnesota United stretches back to 2012, across two leagues and with plenty of ups and downs for player and team in his tenure. A high-profile transfer to Club Leon helped burnish Ibarra's value to Minnesota, literally, while his underdog story that saw him make the US national team as a second-division player is something everyone can get behind. But it's been clear for some time his tenure with the Loons was running out and a change of scenery could do him good, too.
The Sounders defender was never the headliner in central defense, but that belied a consistency that's hard to find. It still feels quite likely Kim will be back with Seattle in 2020, but if the parting is permanent, a lot of MLS teams could do with an experienced, steady defender.
Another member of the "Most underrated players in MLS" club, much was made of Medunjanin's defensive deficiencies in midfield, but the Bosnian's skills in the middle of the park and hard-as-nails mentality meant he still largely succeeded despite being a square peg in a round hole. Signs point to him going abroad for 2020, but the Union will have a major hole to fill with Medunjanin's departure.
(EDIT: Medunjanin was selected in the Waiver Draft by FC Cincinnati)
The New York Red Bulls iron man showed some uncharacteristically shaky moments in 2019, and it's not shocking he's moving on. Still, Robles is not only another heartening MLS underdog story, he's been a top-line player on the field and off, as a leader and in the community. Don't be shocked if he's lining up against the Red Bulls next season.
Considering Torres has been rumored to be leaving the Sounders every transfer window for years, it's not surprising the endpoint may be near. Still, Torres has gone from peripheral figure more than once this season to a leading figure in Seattle's MLS Cup run. It's possible his MLS days aren't yet over, but the smart money's on another tour in Colombia before the Panamanian hangs up his boots.
The very best flyer signing in MLS history, Wright-Phillips didn't get to finish his Red Bulls tenure on his terms, but he's nonetheless had a terrific stint with the club. If this is the end of his time in MLS, we'll lose one of the best characters and best scorers ever seen in the league.