Grading The Offseason: Eastern Conference

Grading The Offseason: Eastern Conference

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 2, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Offseason, 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Offseason Grades, Features

Toronto and Kansas City have faired pretty well so far this winter. (Getty Images)

Many clubs are a few weeks into their pre-seasons and now that the international transfer window has shut, it is a good time to look at how each MLS side has done so far this winter. (Note: the MLS window doesn’t close until April, which means players who failed to land new jobs in Europe can still head to MLS.)

Keep in mind, these grades are based on the offseason to this point, not on how good I think the team will be. I know there will and can be a lot more moves between now and April. I’ll go more into how I think each team will be before the start of the season with various rankings and previews then. The transaction page at was where the majority of the info seen on this post came from.

I’ve also thrown in some thought about what I think each club still needs before the start of the season in terms of depth and areas of concern.

(Side note: I’m not including any Supplemental Draft picks in with any of the teams. Some players have already been let go by their clubs while some are still trying to make the teams. Once they have definitely signed we’ll discuss it more)

Chicago Fire

Players in: G Jay Nolly (12/5: trade from Vancouver); F Kheli Dube (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/New England); M Rafael Robayo (1/9: free/Millonarios); F Federico Puppo (1/11: free/Danubio); D Austin Berry (1/12: SuperDraft); F Lucky Mkosana (1/12: SuperDraft); D Hunter Jumper (1/12: SuperDraft)

Players out: F Christian Nazarit (12/7: option declined); F Gabriel Ferrari (12/7: option declined); G Alec Dufty (12/12: option declined); M Baggio Husidic (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Colorado); G Jon Conway (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); F Diego Chaves,(1/15: free/Palestino)

What is still needed: Defensive help and another striker

Thoughts: For some reason the Transaction page lacks the losses of Yamith Cuesta and Josip Mikulic, Those two losses leave their defense in a bit of a pickle. Only Cory Gibbs and Jahil Anibaba have MLS experience. That being said however I did like their SuperDraft with them landing Berry and Jumper. There will be some growing pains in the back for sure to start out with but I think before long they’ll be okay. I’m very interested to see how Puppo works up top with Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko and Pavel Pardo. If it works out that could be a very nice move for the Fire. Losing Diego Chaves is a tough loss even though his output wasn’t a whole lot last season due to injuries (six goals, one assist). Frank Klopas still has some work to do here, that is for sure.

Grade: C-


Columbus Crew

Players In: D Carlos Mendes (12/5: Re-Entry Stage 1/New York); G Matt Lampson (12/15: Home Grown); M Milovan Mirosevic (1/4: free/Universidad Católica); F Olman Vargas(1/6: free/Club Herediano); F Ben Speas (1/11: Home Grown); F Ethan Finlay (1/12: SuperDraft); D Aubrey Perry (1/12: SuperDraft); M Kevan George (1/12: SuperDraft)

Players Out: D Josh Gardner (11/23: expansion draft); M Santiago Prim (11/23: waived); D Dejan Rusmir (11/23: waived); F Andrés Mendoza (12/6: option declined); M Kevin Burns (12/12: option declined); F Jeff Cunningham (12/12: option declined); M Robbie Rogers (1/11: free/Leeds United)

What is still needed: Possibly another striker and some defensive depth

Thoughts: Still no word on what Emmanuel Ekpo will be doing this season. Is he still with the club or not? The club hasn’t talked about it too much this winter but from what I can gather he is a free agent (some MLS side should take note and grab him). Outside of that the club did lose a couple big names in Mendoza and Rogers but Gardner could be one of the tougher losses in the back. On the flip side they did bring in Mendes from New York, which I thought was a smart move and they signed two home grown players. Vargas could be a huge addition for them down the road, as will Mirosevic. The Crew went young once again this winter with their moves and I think it will pay off for them.

Grade: B-


DC United

Players In: D Robbie Russell (11/29: trade from RSL); M Nick DeLeon (1/12: SuperDraft);  F Maicon Santos (1/18: free); M Danny Cruz(1/20: trade from Houston); D Emiliano Dudar(1/25: free/BSC Young Boys)

Players Out: M Santino Quaranta (12/7: retired); DMarc Burch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Seattle); M Clyde Simms (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/New England); M Brandon Barklage (12/12: option declined); G Steve Cronin (12/12: option declined); F Joseph Ngwenya (12/12: option declined); D Jed Zayner (12/12: option declined); D Devon McTavish (12/22: retired)

What is still needed: Defensive depth and another striker

Thoughts: It looks like they lost more than they gained but really when it comes down to it Ben Olsen has done a solid job this winter. Getting players like Cruz, Russell, Santos were all smart moves while rookie DeLeon was a nice pick last month. The big question will be if Dudar can make an impact with the side or not. I still believe their defense could use a little more work but these moves should help Perry Kitchen move back into his more natural spot in the defensive side of the midfield.

Grade: B-


Houston Dynamo

Players In: M Nathan Sturgis (12/29: trade from Toronto); F Colin Rolfe (1/12: SuperDraft); MWarren Creavalle (1/12: SuperDraft)

Players Out: F Brian Ching (11/23: expansion draft); MFrancisco Navas Cobo (11/23: waived); GEvan Newton (11/23: waived); F Carlo Costly(11/24: option declined); D Hunter Freeman(12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Colorado); F Jason Garey (12/12: option declined); D Eddie Robinson (1/11: retired); M Danny Cruz (1/20: trade to D.C.)

What is still needed: Depth all around but most pressing need is a couple strikers

Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure what the Dynamo are waiting on here this winter. Possibly the Bring Ching situation shook them more than they thought it would. Only three moves this winter and two of them came from the SuperDraft. That isn’t enough at all for a club that will have additional games on their slate this season with the CCL. Even with the new format of that tournament it will still be more games to deal with than what they have had the last couple of seasons. The good news in all of this though is the club has to have plenty of cap space. Nearly all the players they lost this winter took up plenty of caps space, especially Costly, Ching and Freeman. For now this club feels incomplete but I don’t like giving out those kinds of grades.

Grade: D-


Montreal Impact

Players In: D Nelson Rivas (10/3: free/Inter Milan, Italy); G Evan Bush (10/21: NASL Impact); DSinisa Ubiparipovic (11/1: NASL Impact); M Hassoun Camara (11/3: NASL Impact); D Jeb Brovsky (11/23: expansion draft); DBobby Burling (11/23: expansion draft); F Brian Ching (11/23: expansion draft); D Josh Gardner (11/23: expansion draft); M Justin Mapp (11/23: expansion draft); M Sanna Nyassi (11/23: expansion draft); D James Riley (11/23: expansion draft); D Seth Sinovic (11/23: expansion draft); M Collen Warner (11/23: expansion draft); D Zarek Valentin (11/23: expansion draft); F Justin Braun (11/23: trade from Chivas USA); M Gerson Mayen (11/23: trade from Chivas USA); D Tyson Wahl (11/23: trade from Seattle Sounders); M Bryan Arguez (11/25: free/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers);  M Davy Arnaud (11/28: trade from Sporting KC); G Donovan Ricketts(11/28: trade from LA); M Ian Westlake (12/5: NASL Impact); M Miguel Montaño (12/7: free/Seattle); G Greg Sutton (12/9: free/New York); M Patrice Bernier (12/19: free/Lyngby); M Felipe Martins (12/21: free/FC Lugano); D/FAndrew Wenger (1/12: SuperDraft); M Calum Mallace (1/12: SuperDraft); D Geinier García(1/17: trade from Vancouver); D Shavar Thomas (1/20: free)

Players out: D James Riley (11/23: trade to Chivas USA); D Seth Sinovic (11/28: trade to Sporting KC)

What is still needed: That big-named player they’ve been talking about for weeks would be nice.

Thoughts: For an expansion team, this club sort of feels like the Seattle Sounders when they came into the league. Smart moves, a couple risky ones and enough MLS guys that could make this club very watchable in year one. They are young for the most part but talented enough that they could surprise some people. If they can get that big DP signing that they have been claiming to have on the radar before the season starts then this grade could end up being higher. But overall I can’t fault them too much for what they have done thus far.

Grade: B+


New England Revolution

Players In: D Danleigh Borman (12/5: Re-Entry Stage 1/Toronto); F Nate Jaqua (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Seattle); M Clyde Simms (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/D.C. United); D John Lozano(1/9: free/América de Cali); M/F Fernando Cárdenas (1/9: free/América de Cali); M Kelyn Rowe (1/12: SuperDraft); D Tyler Polak (1/12: SuperDraft); F Jose Moreno (2/2 loan/Once Caldes)

Players Out: F Alan Koger (11/23: waived); D Otto Loewy (11/23: waived); M Andrew Sousa (11/23: waived); F Milton Caraglio(11/30: option declined); F Monsef Zerka(11/30: option declined); D Ryan Cochrane(12/1: option declined); M Franco Coria (12/1: option declined); M Pat Phelan (12/1: option declined); F Kheli Dube (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Chicago); F Rajko Lekic (1/31: free/Lyngby)

What is still needed: A go-to striker with experience (Moreno may be that guy), and some depth on the wings

Thoughts: Jay Heaps has done a decent job so far this winter are building his roster. He cut a lot of fat and made some interesting calls early on. Re-signing Shalrie Joseph to a DP deal was fairly smart and if his three Colombian players can pan out like others have in this league then he could have a competitive team in 2012. I still have a ton of reservations about this club though for this season. I want to like what they have done this winter but I have a feeling it won’t be nearly enough to be a playoff side. They are too young in some places and we still don’t know how well this offense will actually be.

Grade: D+


New York Red Bulls

Players In: D Connor Lade (12/5: Home Grown); D Jonathan Borrajo (1/5: free/Hamarkameratene); D Markus Holgersson (1/12: free/Helsingborg); F Kenny Cooper (1/12: trade from Portland); G Ryan Meara (1/12: SuperDraft);  G Jeremy Vuolo (1/25: free/AC Oulu); D Wilman Conde (1/30: rights from Chicago)

Players Out: G Alex Horwath (11/23: waived); DMychal Jones (11/23: waived); D Tyler Lassiter (11/23: waived); M Marcos Paullo (11/23: waived); M John Rooney (11/23: waived); D Teddy Schneider (11/23: waived); DCarlos Mendes (Re-Entry Stage 1/Columbus); D Chris Albright (12/12: option declined); GBouna Coundoul (12/12: option declined); DTim Ream (1/26: transfer/Bolton Wanderers)

What is still needed: A goalkeeper with plenty of good experience, defensive cover, depth in the midfield

Thoughts: The Conde-Holgersson combo in the back could be good. Keyword there is could. I do think it is a step in the right direction though for this season. You have to imagine it will still be a high expectation season for Hans Backe and these Red Bulls though. The depth is still an issue but is getting better. It still comes down to their goalkeeper situation for me though, it hasn’t gotten any better and don’t think for a moment that Vuolo is the right answer there. He’s decent but not nearly decent enough if the club goes through some growing pains with this new defense.

Grade: B-


Philadelphia Union

Players In: M Nizar Khalfan (11/23: waiver draft/Vancouver); F Josué Martínez (12/7: transfer, Deportivo Saprissa); M Jimmy McLaughlin (12/12: Home Grown); M Gabriel Gómez (12/21: Indios/Mexico); D PorfirioLópez (12/22: Dalian Haichang/China); FChandler Hoffman (1/12: SuperDraft); M Greg Jordan (1/12: SuperDraft); D Raymon Gaddis(1/12: SuperDraft)

Players Out: D Juan Diego González (11/23: waived); G Thorne Holder (11/23: waived); M Justin Mapp (11/23: expansion draft); G Chase Harrison (12/12: option declined); M Stefani Miglioranzi (12/12: option declined); F Levi Houapeu (1/17: option declined); M Morgan Langley (1/17: option declined); M/D Ryan Richter (1/17: option declined); D Joe Tait(1/17: option declined); F Veljko Paunovic (1/18: retired); G Faryd Mondragón (1/30: released); F Sébastien Le Toux (1/30: trade to Vancouver); M Kyle Nakazawa (2/1: trade to LA)

What is still needed: Backup goalkeeper, some depth in the midfield and in defense

Thoughts: What a difference a couple days makes for a club like this. Losing Mondragon and Le Toux in one day was rough. Peter Nowak is committing to the youth movement in a big way and I don’t mind it really. I know fans are attached to players like Le Toux but give it some time and it should all work out. I do like their other moves with Martinez and Gomez coming on board. Lopez should also be an interesting player to watch while Hoffman and Gaddis should be able to contribute in their rookie seasons. Adding some depth behind Zac MacMath has to be done before the start of the season though. That is a huge area of concern.

Grade: C


Sporting Kansas City

Players In: D Seth Sinovic (11/28: trade from Montreal); M Paulo Nagamura (11/29: trade from Chivas USA); M/D Bobby Convey (12/2: trade from San Jose); F Dom Dwyer (1/12: SuperDraft); DCyprian Hedrik (1/12: SuperDraft); M Michael Thomas (1/18); F Jacob Peterson (1/19: free/San Jose Earthquakes)

Players Out: M Davy Arnaud (11/28: trade to Montreal); M Jéferson (11/23: waived); D Scott Lorenz (11/23: waived); M Craig Rocastle(11/23: waived); D Seth Sinovic (11/23: expansion draft) M Milos Stojcev (11/23: waived); F Omar Bravo (12/12: Cruz Azul/Mexico); D Shavar Thomas (12/12: option declined)

What is still needed: More defensive depth and cover

Thoughts: I still have to think that the Eastern Conference will go through KC this season. I’ve really enjoyed the moves that Peter Vermes has made this season. Their defense should be better while their offense will be just as tough, if not tougher in 2012. Convey should be a fun addition to watch. I do still have concerns about their defense going into 2012. I think they need at least one or two more moves in that area to ease my mind a bit. Also, this club will have to get mentally tougher in 2012 as they lost a lot of games late due to lack of maturity. Still, overall, not a bad winter.

Grade: B


Toronto FC

Players In: D Jeremy Hall (11/29: trade from Dallas); M Reggie Lambe (12/7: free/Ipswich Town); M Luis Silva (1/12: SuperDraft); D Aaron Maund(1/12: SuperDraft); D Geovanny Caicedo(1/26: LDU Quito); D Miguel Aceval (1/30: Universidad de Concepción)

Players out: D Kyle Davies (11/23: waived); M Matt Gold (11/23: waived); M Leandre Griffit (11/23: waived); F Javier Martina (11/23: waived); DDemitrius Omphroy (11/23: waived); D Eddy Viator (11/23: waived); M Gianluca Zavarise(11/23: waived); D Danleigh Borman (12/5: Re-Entry Stage 1/New England); M Nathan Sturgis(12/29: Trade to Houston) F Mikael Yourassowsky (1/18: waived); D Andy Iro(1/20: declined extension); F Peri Marosevic(1/20: declined extension)

What is still needed: Some depth up top behind Koevermans

Thoughts: Is this going to be a playoff team in 2012? Time will tell on that one but one thing is clear, this club is much better than before. Smart moves this winter that followed the smart moves that took place late last year. They seem to have brought in some defenders that they are very high on in Aceval and Caicedo. If those two moves pan out, then expect huge things from this side in 2012. Aron Winter is certainly taking this club places and its nice to see the management there give him the time and freedom to do it.

Grade: B

  • Think you may need to update DCU after they just signed Hamdi Salihi. They get a proven goalscorer for sure to fill in for Davies.

    • Yeah they just had to sign a DP right after I published this. I’m planning on doing another kind of post like this around the start of the season. So I’ll update it then.