Grading The Offseason: Western Conference

Grading The Offseason: Western Conference

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 3, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Offseason, 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Offseason Grades, Features

Portland and Vancouver have done well in preparing for their sophomore seasons. (Getty Images)

Yesterday I took a look at the 10 clubs from the Eastern Conference in how they’ve done so far this winter. Naturally right after the post was put up one of those clubs went out and signed a DP.

Today, we’ll look at the nine clubs from the Western Conference to see how they’ve been doing so far this winter.

Obviously all MLS sides will continue to make moves between now and the end of the MLS transfer window in April but this is merely a discussion and grade for what they’ve done so far. I’ll go back before the end of that window to re-grade these clubs. The transaction page at was where the majority of the info seen on this post came from.

(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)

Chivas USA

Players In:

Ryan Smith (11/21: trade from Sporting KC); D James Riley (11/23: from Seattle, via trade from Montreal); M Oswaldo Minda (12/21: SD Quito); M Miller Bolaños (1/11: LDU Quito); F Casey Townsend (1/12: SuperDraft); G Tim Melia (1/17: free); D John Valencia (1/24: Atlético Junior); M Marvin Iraheta (1/24: Cosmos Academy)

Players Out: F Justin Braun (11/23: trade to Montreal); M Gerson Mayen (11/23: trade to Montreal); D Zarek Valentin (11/23: expansion draft); MPaulo Nagamura (11/29: trade to Sporting KC); D Andrew Boyens (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); F Chukwudi Chujindu (12/12: option declined); M Simon Elliott (12/12: out of contract); G Zach Thornton (12/12: option declined); D Mariano Trujillo (12/12: option declined); D Michael Umaña (1/2: free/Comunicaciones); F Marcos Mondaini (1/4: loan option declined); G Sergio Arias (1/4: loan option declined); F Víctor Estupiñán (1/4: option declined)

What is still needed: A big time goal scorer.

Thoughts: This continues to be one of the toughest clubs to figure out. They’ve lost a good deal of talent in guys like Justin Braun and Zarek Valentin. Yet they have brought in some intriguing additions in the form of Ryan Smith, Miller Bolanos and John Valencia. If Smith can return to the level of play we saw out of him in Kansas City, then this club has the potential to be a lot more interesting in 2012.

Grade: C


Colorado Rapids

Players In: D Hunter Freeman (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Houston); M Tony Cascio (1/12: SuperDraft); M Jaime Castrillón (1/25: free/Independiente Medellín)

Players Out: M Sanna Nyassi (11/23: expansion draft); D Mike Holody (11/30: option declined); DDanny Earls (11/30: option declined); D Miguel Comminges (11/30: option declined)

What is still needed: Depth in the midfield and up top.

Thoughts: Losing Nyassi is a bigger deal than some still make it out to be. He was a solid player for them and Montreal will love having a player that can do what he does. On the flip side I do like their additions, even if it is really only a couple of them. Freeman will add some quality to the defense while Castrillon will be called to do a lot in the midfield. I think if Oscar Pareja can make a couple more moves to fit his system, then this club will be fine.

Grade: C


FC Dallas

Players In: F Blas Pérez (1/3: free/Indios de Ciudad Juárez); D Hernán Pertúz (1/3: free/Independiente Medellín); D Matt Hedges(1/12: SuperDraft); D Carlos Rodríguez (1/20: Tauro FC)

Players Out: D Edson Edward (11/23: waived); DJeremy Hall (11/29: trade to Toronto); F Maykel Galindo (12/12: option declined); F Maicon Santos (12/12: option declined); M Marvin Chávez (12/16: trade to San Jose); M Jackson(1/18: loan to Cruzeiro)

What is still needed: A starting right-winger, depth up top

Thoughts: Some folks aren’t too high on what Dallas has done this winter but really they’ve put together a solid winter so far. Perez, Pertuz and Rodriguez will all contribute big minutes this season, as will rookie Hedges. Schellas Hyndman trimmed the fat from the poor moves made last year in the form of Hall, Galindo and Santos but also made some risky moves by trading Chavez and loaning Jackson. Fans were too happy about those last two but they should be happy with the fact that the salary cap space is there for them to make a couple solid moves this season.

Grade: B


LA Galaxy

Players In: D Andrew Boyens (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Chivas USA); D Chris Leitch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/San Jose); F Pat Noonan (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Seattle); M Marcelo Sarvas(12/13: free/Alajuelense); M Jose Villarreal(12/22: Home Grown); G Nick Noble (12/22: free/Ljungskile SK); D Tommy Meyer (1/12: SuperDraft); M Kenney Walker (1/12: SuperDraft); F Edson Buddle (2/1: free); M Kyle Nakazawa (2/1: trade from Philadelphia)

Players Out: D Gregg Berhalter (12/9: retired);Donovan Ricketts (11/28: trade to Montreal); M Juninho (1/4: loan expired); G Jon Conway(1/10: retired); M/F Miguel López (1/10: loan expired); M Jovan Kirovski (1/23: retired); DDasan Robinson (1/27: retired); D Chris Leitch(1/31: retired); F Yuri Gorentzvaig (2/1: waived)

What is still needed: Center back depth and defensive midfield help

Thoughts: Losing Juninho is huge, losing Omar Gonzalez to injury is just as big. Both are the two biggest losses to this club but on the flip side they have done very well at addressing depth and shredding some fat. Having Buddle come back is huge but don’t sleep on that Nakazawa trade either, that was a nice quiet move by Bruce Arena that could end up being a big deal down the road.

Grade: B-


Portland Timbers

Players In: F José Adolfo Valencia (12/14: Independiente Santa Fe/Colombia); F Brent Richards (1/4: Home Grown); D Andrew Jean-Baptiste (1/12: SuperDraft); M Brendan King(1/12: SuperDraft); D Hanyer Mosquera (1/17: free); F Kris Boyd (1/30: free); M Charles Renken (1/31: waiver wire)

Players Out: D Kevin Goldthwaite (11/29: retired); F/M Ryan Pore (12/1; option declined); G Adin Brown (12/12: option declined); M Rodrigo López (12/12: option declined); M Peter Lowry (12/12: option declined); F Brian Umony(12/12: option declined); F Kenny Cooper (1/12: trade to New York)

What is still needed: Depth in the defense, additional help on the wings

Thoughts: The last two moves by the Timbers (Boyd, Renken) could end up being the best moves this winter by any club. Boyd is a natural goal scorer and if he can get to 10-15 goals this season, it will be a great addition by the Timbers. As for Renken, if he can get healthy it is a very good pickup for a player that had so much promise early on in his young career. The other DP signed this winter by the Timbers is still a toss up but if Valencia can get healthy and work out, then the Timbers have all the makings of being special in year two.

Grade: B+


Real Salt Lake

Players In: M Enzo Martinez (1/12: SuperDraft); D Diogo de Almeida (1/12: SuperDraft); M Sebastián Velásquez (1/12: SuperDraft);  D Leone Cruz (1/17: trade rights from Seattle)

Players Out: G Tim Melia (11/23: waived); M Collen Warner (11/23: expansion draft); D Robbie Russell (11/29: trade to D.C.); M Jean Alexandre (12/1: trade to San Jose); M Arturo Alvarez (12/5: Re-Entry Stage 1/Chivas USA); MAndy Williams (12/5: retired); D Nelson González (12/12: option declined); D Rauwshan McKenzie (12/12: option declined); M Blake Wagner (12/12: option declined); M Andy Rose(1/17: trade to Seattle)

What is still needed: Depth all over, particularly in the midfield and up top

Thoughts: It seems like they have lose more than they have gained but that is the price you pay when you are one of the deepest teams in MLS. Russell and Warner will end up being the toughest losses on the field. Williams will be the toughest loss in the locker room though. But they did get some youth in the draft and Martinez should be a steal for them, as he’ll get plenty of playing time in his rookie season.

Grade: C


San Jose Earthquakes

Players In: M Shea Salinas (11/30: trade from Vancouver); M Jean Alexandre (12/1: trade from RSL); M Marvin Chávez (12/16: trade from FC Dallas); D Víctor Bernárdez (12/21: free/Anderlecht); F Sam Garza (1/12: SuperDraft); M Jacob Hustedt (1/12: SuperDraft); G Chris Blais (1/12: SuperDraft);  F Sercan Güvenisik (1/26: Preußen Münster); M Tressor Moreno (2/2: free)

Players Out: D Bobby Burling (11/23: expansion draft); M Matt Luzunaris (12/1: waived); M/D Bobby Convey (12/2: trade to Sporting KC); D Chris Leitch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); MAndré Luiz (12/12: option declined); M Jacob Peterson (12/12: option declined); F Scott Sealy (12/12: option declined); G Andrew Weber (12/12: option declined)

What is still needed: Defensive help

Thoughts: A busy offseason for Frank Yallop but not a terrible one. A lot of iffy moves in the draft and in trades that could pan out and be better than I am thinking. If Moreno ends up being the #10 that the Quakes have been looking for then we could be looking at a sleeper team this season. Still a lot of ifs with that defense that worries me. I do think their additions on the wings will help Chris Wondolowski out in a big way. I think the grade will end up being higher, especially if they can work out a deal with Simon Dawkins to return.

Grade: C+


Seattle Sounders FC

Players In: G Michael Gspurning (12/7: free/Skoda Xanthi); D Marc Burch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/D.C. United); D Adam Johansson (12/29: free/Göteborg); M Christian Sivebaek (1/11: free/Midtjylland); D Andrew Duran (1/12: SuperDraft); F Babayele Sodade (1/12: SuperDraft); M Andy Rose (1/17: trade from Real Salt Lake); FCordell Cato (1/18: free/Defence Force FC);

Players Out: G Kasey Keller (11/2: retired); D James Riley (11/23: to Chivas USA, via expansion draft); D Tyson Wahl (11/23: trade to Montreal); GK Terry Boss (12/2: retired); D Taylor Graham(12/2, retired); F Nate Jaqua (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/New England); F Pat Noonan (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); M Erik Friberg(12/12: transfer/Malmö)

What is still needed: Defensive depth, a healthy Steve Zakuani

Thoughts: It looked like this club was going to take a serious hit back at the end of 2011 but they have quietly and diligently made some good moves to help their cause out for what will be a busy 2012. I like the additions of Johansson, Siveback and Cato. And re-signing Mauro Rosales was absolutely huge. Still the biggest loss will certainly be Kasey Keller and his leadership. If Gspurning can be half of what Keller was to this club they will be fine.

Grade: B


Vancouver Whitecaps

Players In: M Bryce Alderson (11/17: Home Grown), Lee Young-Pyo (12/7: free); M/F Lee Nguyen(12/15: weighted lottery); M Matt Watson(12/16: free/Carolina); D Martín Bonjour (1/6: free: Rampla Juniors); F Darren Mattocks(1/12: SuperDraft); D Chris Estridge (1/12: SuperDraft); G Brad Knighton (1/17: Carolina);  M Jun Marques Davidson (1/19: free); F Sébastien Le Toux (1/30: trade from Philadelphia)

Players Out: D Jeb Brovsky (11/23: expansion draft); D Bilal Duckett (11/23: waived); M Nizar Khalfan (11/23: waived); M Alexandre Morfaw(11/23: waived); M Shea Salinas (11/30: trade to San Jose); D Greg Janicki (11/30: option declined); M Pete Vagenas (11/30: option declined); D Jonathan Leathers (11/30: option declined); G Jay Nolly (12/5: trade to Chicago); D Geinier García (1/17: trade to Montreal); FMustapha Jarju (1/21: contract terminated); MPhilippe Davies (1/21: option declined)

What is still needed: Defensive depth

Thoughts: Martin Rennie has brought in a fair amount of talent from his Carolina roster and will likely continue to do so. But you have to really like where this club is going offensively with Le Toux and the re-signing of Camilio. If Young-Pyo can turn into the game-changer in the back for the Caps, this could easily be a playoff team in 2012. There will certainly be some growing pains with this club, giving all the changes but you have to really like where they are going here.

Grade A-

1 Comment

  • Feb 3 2012
Lee Young-Pyo-- his surname is Lee, Koreans write the family name first.  So he would be Mr. Lee.