In v. Out: On MLS Player Movement

In v. Out: On MLS Player Movement

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 5, 2008

While we are still waiting on a few deals to go through and since the transfer window has passed, it is probably as good of a time as ever to look back at the last month or so of action in the MLS and look at the deals that went through and what it means for the MLS and the clubs.

Some have said this has been a tough off season for the MLS. Loads of quality players jumping ship aboard to clubs in England to Norway. What has really struck some is the amount of players going to lower level divisions, which makes people believe that the MLS is still a Euro-feeder league. And to a degree it still is, but there are plenty of reasons to as why we’ve seen the amount of players leave like this. Salary cap being one thing, teams and the league low-balling players is definitely another.

It is also fair to say that some players were just due to leave this winter and find work elsewhere.

What has struck me even more however is the amount of players that aren’t coming in to counteract the ones leaving. Aside from DC United, no other club has really put together an effort to snag mulitple players from other countries like many expected after the new rules relaxed the international player restrictions.

A lot of reasons for that, as this is a business for one and some teams just don’t know how to hit the market quite like DC does.

Looking at the In versus the Out in this off season, I have to say the In is questionable until we know for a fact that the moves the clubs made were worth it to counter the moves that weren’t made. Sure deals fell through but not too many clubs were making deals to fix what was leaving (hello Houston!).

Here is a list of guys that left the MLS in the past month:

(CHI) Matt Pickens – via free transfer Queen’s Park Rangers (England)
(CREW) Marcos Gonzalez – via transfer Universidad Catolica (Chile)
(DC) Troy Perkins – transfer to Valerenga IF (Norway)
(DC) Bryan Arguez – transfer to Hertha Berlin (Germany)
(DC) Andrew Jacobson – signed with Lorient (France) — Superdraft pick that never signed with DC
(HOU) Joseph Ngwenya – SK Austria (transfer)
(HOU) Nate Jaqua – via transfer SCR Altach (Austria)
(KC) Eddie Johnson – via transfer Fulham (England)
(LA) Clint Mathis – via transfer Ergotelis (Greece)
(NER) Andy Dorman – via free transfer St. Mirren (Scotland)
(NER) Pat Noonan – via free transfer Aalesund SK (Norway)
(SJ) Clarence Goodson – via free transfer IK Start (Norway)
(TOR) Kenny Stamatopoulos – Loan term ended, returned to Tromsø IL (Norway)

You can say clubs like San Jose made deals to make up for the loss of Goodson, but honestly, they haven’t hit the transfer market enough to build a side even in my books. LA didn’t need Mathis so that isn’t really a loss, though it was a surprising move on his part to leave.

New England hasn’t really made any move other than to block Taylor Twellman from leaving. They still may lose their top draft pick to a European club if they aren’t careful.

To some KC drafted in a way to stock up on midfielders and defense in the event that Eddie Johnson was leaving. Honestly, the fact that they haven’t gone for a couple strikers on the open market is amazing. Same goes for Houston, losing Jaqua and Nqwenya is really tough for the two-time champs.

Dallas is a club that didn’t really have to worry much as they lost some players but gained youth and some experience in their deals, and they aren’t finished.

Columbus is trying, still trying to find someone to bring in. Colorado is just hoping to finish up a deal with DC on Christian Gomez, that may be their only move of the off season that is worth noting. Chicago loses a keeper but hasn’t made the splash like they should. Same with New York, who have been oddly quiet this time around. Same almost goes for Chivas and RSL.

And as you will see below, as DC loses, they gain and gain some more with their moves:

(CHV) Raphaël Wicky – via transfer FC Sion (Switzerland)
(COL) Chase Hilgenbrinck – free transfer from Ñublense (Chile)
(DC) Franco Niell – loan from Argentinos Juniors (Argentina)
(DC) Gonzalo Martinez – via transfer Millonarios (Columbia)
(DC) Gonzalo Peralta – via transfer Club Almirante Brown (Argentina)
(DC) Marcelo Gallardo – via transfer Paris Saint-Germain (France) * designated player  *
(DC) Jose Carvallo – loan from Universitario de Deportes (Peru)
(FCD) Duilio Davino – free transfer from Club America (Mexico)
(HOU) Tony Caig – free transfer via Gretna (Scotland)
(RSL) Ian Joy – via transfer St Pauli (Germany)

Now sure, some of the clubs that haven’t made much in terms of moves did stock up in the SuperDraft. And some like LA have made trades like no other to free up space and all.

Still, aside from DC and maybe a club like Dallas or Chivas, there haven’t been many winners in the MLS this off season. Trades have happened and will continue to happen before the first game, that I do know but the chance to sign some players to this league that clubs needed to do just didn’t happen this past month and I honestly don’t think many will sign before the first game at the end of next month.

DC is building themselves up for their long season of international games and competitions while clubs like Houston and New England are hoping to make it through the season with what they have right now. Yeah, that won’t happen, sorry Revs fans and Dynamo fans, it just won’t happen that way.

It may be a rough opinion and a fairly negative one to start the day off with but I don’t think too many clubs can feel confident going into next season like DC can right now.

What do you all think of these transfers and signings that we have seen? Which one will make the most impact and which one will be the biggest bust?