Roster moves of varying sizes and significance are happening across MLS as the winter rolls on. But the future remains cloudy for several players who occupied key roles for their respective clubs during the 2019 season.
Let's examine five of the biggest names (listed in alphabetical order) still in limbo as December ticks away.
Over the weekend, US Soccer released content celebrating the 20th anniversary of the epochal 1999 Under-17 national team, who held a reunion at last month’s United States-Canada Concacaf Nations League match in Orlando. Beckerman is the only active player remaining from that squad. But how long will that stay the case?
Now 37, KB5 reached the end of his contract with Real Salt Lake at season’s end and apparently is in talks over a new deal. Or might MLS's all-time leader among field players in games played decide to call time and transition into a coaching or front-office role?
“The club wants Kyle back,” RSL head coach Freddy Juarez told reporters this week. “He’s out of a contract. Kyle and his party with the front office, there are options for Kyle. He’s someone that’s so important. The staff loves Kyle, I love Kyle. Kyle’s an important guy, he’s a legend, he’s a big part of putting a star on the jersey.”
One of the unexpected breakout performers of LAFC’s first two years of existence, Miller had quietly toiled as a Seattle Sounders backup until the SoCal newcomers gave him a chance. He’s more than seized it, making 186 saves over 61 league starts for the Black & Gold to date, earning USMNT call-ins and displaying a modern goalkeeper’s comfort with playing out of the back.
He’s now played out a basic contract that made him one of the league’s best values in 2019. While LAFC retain his MLS rights by making him a bona fide offer, he’s free to move abroad and has reportedly drawn interest from clubs in Portugal, Belgium and Germany.
Overseas, re-signing with LAFC, a trade elsewhere in MLS – it’s all on the table for the 26-year-old.
The Dutch-born midfielder of Cape Verdean descent bagged four goals and nine assists in 2019 after arriving in Philadelphia on loan from French side FC Metz, but that only hints at the scope of his influence in the Union’s setup. Here’s how my colleague Greg Seltzer phrased it when listing Monteiro among his 10 most underrated players in MLS:
“He provides supplemental offense, slicing dribbles through central park, tough tackling, reliable metronome passing and just about any other midfield duty one can think of for a club enjoying what is easily the best regular season in its 10-year history.”
A 26-year-old contributor of such quality doesn’t come cheap, and it will take either some big checks or ingenious maneuvering from the DOOP front office to keep hold of him permanently. We await further reports on their negotiations with Metz.
A year ago, the Argentine creator arrived at D.C. United on loan from Estudiantes de La Plata with an option to buy. While Rodriguez's influence ebbed and faded over the course of the season, his moments of top quality were jaw-dropping, starting with this should-have-been-Goal-of-the-Year peach:
Rodriguez spent most of the year as a complementary piece. But with Wayne Rooney and Lucho Acosta out the door at Audi Field, there’s space – and a need, from D.C.’s perspective – for “Titi” to fully embrace the spotlight in 2020.
Now, the question is what it will cost them. United officials have said his acquisition is a priority, though Yamil Asad's return to the Black-and-Red may prompt a hard bargain with Estudiantes. There’s also been precious little reporting on his situation of late.
The Portland Timbers’ favorite son needs no introduction, but he does need a new contract if he’s to continue his iconic stay in the Rose City. Despite some emotional, and public, back-and-forthing over the back half of 2019 that raised the possibility that Valeri would move to another MLS club, it seems that breakthrough is near.
It’s possible that the unexpected parting of ways with forward Brian Fernandez changed the calculations. Or maybe both sides just caught their breath and stepped back from the brink. Multiple outlets have reported that Valeri and PTFC have reached agreement on a TAM-fueled deal, the most recent arriving from The Athletic’s Matt Pentz in his feature interview with owner Merritt Paulson:
“The material terms have been agreed upon to bring Valeri back for 2020 – a deal that should become official soon, avoiding the uncomfortable eventuality of Valeri pulling on a rival MLS shirt.”
Until that press release hits inboxes, we’ll continue to watch and wait.