MLS 2022: Our Weird, Fun, Chaotic, Dumb Domestic League

candylandriots

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Wow. My guess is with that kind of money on the table, the biggest issue was getting assurances that this move wouldn’t hurt Insigne’s national team spot.
Our friend Ronny (who won the first survivor pool) - I asked him about this as a TFC and Italy supporter. He thought it was a sign that he was done with the National team. FWIW… (I also asked him to join at least as a lurker for Gazza…we will see if that works.)
 

67YAZ

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Our friend Ronny (who won the first survivor pool) - I asked him about this as a TFC and Italy supporter. He thought it was a sign that he was done with the National team. FWIW… (I also asked him to join at least as a lurker for Gazza…we will see if that works.)
Given how vital Insigne was to the Euros squad, it’s hard to imagine him hanging up his international boots now…or the team letting him. He’s started all 4 WCQ since the summer.

Plus, Zlatan’s success at Milan should have proven MLS’ bona fides by now.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Our friend Ronny (who won the first survivor pool) - I asked him about this as a TFC and Italy supporter. He thought it was a sign that he was done with the National team. FWIW… (I also asked him to join at least as a lurker for Gazza…we will see if that works.)
I see it first and foremost as a sign that Toronto is offering Insigne a LOT of money.

Hopefully the four whole months Insigne spends in MLS before the World Cup doesn't totally undo all of his abilities as a player that he's shown over his entire career.

Plus, Zlatan’s success at Milan should have proven MLS’ boba fides by now.
"Should" is doing a lot of work here, sadly — we can't let data points get in the way of a good, contemptuous narrative.
 

67YAZ

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I see it first and foremost as a sign that Toronto is offering Insigne a LOT of money.

Hopefully the four whole months Insigne spends in MLS before the World Cup doesn't totally undo all of his abilities as a player that he's shown over his entire career.



"Should" is doing a lot of work here, sadly — we can't let data points get in the way of a good, contemptuous narrative.
Boba Fides? Must be a Star Wars character or maybe Heitz’s new striker target.
 

Titans Bastard

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Charlotte signed Kristijan Kahlina, a 29 year old Croatian goalkeeper from Ludogorets Razgrad. They also traded away another $250k in GAM to get another international roster slot.

I'm skeptical of Charlotte's roster build so far, as leadership teams made up of people with no MLS experience has a bad track record of correctly evaluating the talent level necessary to succeed in MLS, but since so many signings that MLS clubs make are players that American soccer fans like me have zero knowledge of, the uncertainty levels are high.

https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/news/charlotte-fc-signs-croatian-goalkeeper-kristijan-kahlina


Austin signed Maxi Urruti, who I think will become the first player to play for all three Texas MLS clubs.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/mls-veteran-forward-maxi-urruti-signs-with-austin-fc
 

Titans Bastard

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The Dynamo announced Paulo Nagamura as their manager. Nagamura is a Brazilian who was a long-time MLSer who retired in 2016, and has been coaching SKC's reserve team in USL for a number of years. Looking up Nagamura's bio, I never realized that he was a youth player at Arsenal for several years before joining the Galaxy in 2006.

View: https://twitter.com/HoustonDynamo/status/1478090306029563909


This had been reported on for a bit, but this officially concludes the offseason managerial dance.

Chicago — Ezra Hendrickson (Columbus assistant)
Cincinnati — Pat Noonan (Philadelphia assistant)
Dallas — Nico Estevez (USMNT assistant)
Houston — Paulo Nagamura (SKC II manager)
LAFC — Steve Cherundolo (Las Vegas Lights manager)
RSL — Pablo Mastroeni (RSL interim)
Toronto — Bob Bradley (LAFC)
Vancouver — Vanni Sartini (Vancouver interim)
 

Titans Bastard

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Chicago signed 31 year old German CB Rafael Czichos. He has started regularly in the Bundesliga for Köln for the last 2.5 years, which seems promising. As long as he's better than Francisco Calvo, right?

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/chicago-fire-fc-sign-defender-rafael-czichos-from-german-bundesliga

Nashville signed Sean Davis. Like with Caldwell at RSL, it will be weird to see Davis playing for a team other than RBNY. He was one of their better performers last year, and it feels like a mistake to let him slip away.

https://www.nashvillesc.com/news/nashville-soccer-club-signs-two-time-supporters-shield-champion-sean-davis

Miami continues to re-tool, and shipped out the ineffective Rodolfo Pizarro on loan to Monterrey. Rumor has it that they are finding a way to get rid of the enormous bust of Blaise Matuidi as well.

https://www.intermiamicf.com/news/inter-miami-cf-loans-rodolfo-pizarro-to-c-f-monterrey

Cincinnati signed journeyman forward Dominique Badji.

https://www.fccincinnati.com/news/fc-cincinnati-sign-forward-dominique-badji

D.C. signed Brendan Hines-Ike permanently, after his loan from Kortrijk last year.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/dc-united-sign-defender-brendan-hines-ike-on-permanent-transfer
 

67YAZ

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Chicago signed 31 year old German CB Rafael Czichos. He has started regularly in the Bundesliga for Köln for the last 2.5 years, which seems promising. As long as he's better than Francisco Calvo, right?

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/chicago-fire-fc-sign-defender-rafael-czichos-from-german-bundesliga
Hmmmmm…not the kind of move Heitz has made here in Chicago before, but a veteran CB is sorely needed. Johnny Bornstein was the most important member of the backline last season - somehow getting everyone organized while putting in 2200 minutes and not breaking down like the Blues Mobile.

There’s Twitter hype that Heitz is trying to recruit Xherden Shaqiri, who is already on the outs at Lyon. Not holding my breath, but man would that be fun.
 

Titans Bastard

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RSL finally has a new owner, officially. David Blitzer is part of a zillion sports ownership groups, and Smith owns the Jazz.

View: https://twitter.com/JeffreyCarlisle/status/1478824944565772289



Some interesting tidbits from the Athletic:

- Insigne's before-tax salary with Toronto will be $15m/yr, and will probably have an additional marketing deal. This is a very, very large amount of money.

- FC Dallas is making Jesus Ferreira a DP with a contract of nearly $2m/yr. That's a very big investment in an academy product, and they are obviously looking to him as a player they can build around with players like Cannon, Reynolds, Pepi, Tessmann, Sealy, and probably Che going abroad.



Ray Gaddis, who retired last winter, has returned to play for FC Cincinnati. No doubt FCC's new GM Chris Albright, who would know him well from many years together at the Union, helped bring him back. Gaddis was playing at an MLS starter level through 2020 and didn't retire because he was past it, so it wouldn't be a shock if he can still contribute a solid amount.

View: https://twitter.com/fccincinnati/status/1478831163615633410


Minnesota signed a young forward from Maritzburg United in South Africa. Obviously he's a big unknown in these parts.

View: https://twitter.com/MNUFC/status/1478811035054313472



Colorado acquired CB Aboubacar Keita from Columbus. I take this as an indication that a rumored sale of Auston Trusty to a European club is more likely to happen. The Rapids have been very good at getting a ton out of various players acquired from within the league, and Keita seems like their type. He's been mostly a backup for the Crew, but at 21 he's at an age where he could potentially take a big step forward in the right spot.

https://www.coloradorapids.com/news/colorado-rapids-acquire-defender-aboubacar-keita-from-columbus-crew
 

Titans Bastard

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More moves:

The Rapids have had a busy week. After getting Keita from the Crew, they've signed Brazilian CM Max Alves from Flamengo. He's 20 and is coming off a loan stint at a smaller Brazilian Serie A club, Cuiabá. The Rapids also re-signed long-time league vets Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour. Moor must be basically a player/assistant coach at this point.

Alves is a U22 initiative signing, which means that his budget charge will be limited to $150,000. MLS rules, baby.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/colorado-rapids-sign-brazilian-attacker-max-alves

Columbus signed Ghanaian winger Yaw Yeboah from Wisła Kraków, a 24 year old winger. Yeboah started his career as a Man City Loan Army guy, then ended up in the Spanish second division with Numancia before moving to Poland. You never know how these guys will turn out in MLS just from looking at their resumé, but the Crew is spending TAM money on him so they must be counting on him to be a contributor.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/columbus-crew-acquire-winger-yaw-yeboah-from-poland-s-ekstraklasa

LA Galaxy signed Surinamese/Dutch right back Kelvin Leerdam, who was a free agent. Once viewed as one of the better right backs in the league, he departed the Sounders after 2020 and was part of the muddled Inter Miami team of 2021. Presumably he'll back up Julian Araujo at this point, although it's conceivable that Araujo could be sold this window or the next.

San Jose signed Slovakian CM Jan Gregus, who parted ways with Minnesota at the end of the season. He's 30 now, and fell out of favor with Minnesota. We'll see how much he has left in the tank.

FC Cincinnati signed John Nelson, whose rights they had obtained in the Re-Entry Draft from FC Dallas, who had declined his option. Nelson is a defense-first left back who will be a solid enough backup.

Charlotte signed CM Chris Hegardt on his 20th birthday. Hegart is a San Diego kid who eventually wound up in the Sounders academy, and then played two seasons at Georgetown. Charlotte picked up his "homegrown" rights from Seattle cheaply to facilitate this move.
 

Titans Bastard

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Two moves for Toronto today. First, the Lorenzo Insigne deal is done, and it's going to be a free transfer that will go through in the summer window. The numbers on this contract are just bonkers — $15m/yr. To me, it's absurd on multiple fronts. First of all, spending $15m/yr on any player is a wild misallocation of resources given the overall salary expenditure of an MLS club like Toronto. But secondly, it's not actually that much of a misallocation of resources under MLS rules even though it really should be. Roster rules are such that Toronto would not be allowed to spread the vast majority of their $15m/yr expenditure across a bunch of players, which would be the natural way to significantly improve the roster. Alas.


Secondly, they sold Richie Laryea to Nottingham Forest. No doubt, he will be missed, as he as emerged as one of the better fullbacks in the league after being rescued from Orlando where he was a relatively unsuccessful midfielder.

View: https://twitter.com/TorontoFC/status/1479906840267964417
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Two moves for Toronto today. First, the Lorenzo Insigne deal is done, and it's going to be a free transfer that will go through in the summer window. The numbers on this contract are just bonkers — $15m/yr. To me, it's absurd on multiple fronts. First of all, spending $15m/yr on any player is a wild misallocation of resources given the overall salary expenditure of an MLS club like Toronto. But secondly, it's not actually that much of a misallocation of resources under MLS rules even though it really should be. Roster rules are such that Toronto would not be allowed to spread the vast majority of their $15m/yr expenditure across a bunch of players, which would be the natural way to significantly improve the roster. Alas.


Secondly, they sold Richie Laryea to Nottingham Forest. No doubt, he will be missed, as he as emerged as one of the better fullbacks in the league after being rescued from Orlando where he was a relatively unsuccessful midfielder.

View: https://twitter.com/TorontoFC/status/1479906840267964417
Agreed … Laryea will be missed. Regarding Insigne .. he’s still a really good player so, regardless of MLS roster rules he will certainly improve the team. I’ve not really paid attention to TFC lately .. was an attacking MF a big weakness ?
 

Titans Bastard

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Agreed … Laryea will be missed. Regarding Insigne .. he’s still a really good player so, regardless of MLS roster rules he will certainly improve the team. I’ve not really paid attention to TFC lately .. was an attacking MF a big weakness ?
Toronto finished 26th out of 27 teams last year. They have a lot of weaknesses, many of which stem from the fact that their core got old. Pozuelo is a very good attacking midfielder, but he and Insigne will not be mutually exclusive. They need to sign some center backs, though. DM is also a concern, as a 34 year old Michael Bradley is not a great MLS player at this point.
 

Titans Bastard

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Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a real MLS Moment.

FC Dallas acquired a draft pick and Dom Dwyer from Toronto in exchange for $50,000 in GAM, and then immediately bought out Dwyer's guaranteed contract.

Why would Dallas do this? Well, MLS has a rule where every winter, each team can buy out the guaranteed contract of one player, thus removing that contract from counting toward their salary cap in the future. Dallas wasn't planning on using their buyout, so they bought out Dwyer for Toronto — presumably so that Toronto can use their own buyout on Jozy Altidore's contract. So essentially, Dallas is paying $50k in GAM and around $300k in actual cash to get the 3rd overall pick.

View: https://twitter.com/FCDallas/status/1480608213926043657



Dallas also picked up Guinea-Bissau international right back Nanu on loan from Porto, where he has been a bit player since arriving from Maritimo. It's unclear to me where he'll slot into the pecking order but he'll probably be competing with Ema Twumasi for the starting role.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/fc-dallas-sign-defender-nanu-from-fc-porto-on-loan


Chris Henderson's epic purge of the Inter Miami roster continues. Venezuelan CB Christian Makoun has been traded to Charlotte in return for the #1 spot in the allocation order (which is used for signing usually bigger-name USMNT players coming back from Europe).

https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/news/charlotte-fc-acquires-defender-christian-makoun-from-inter-miami-cf-in-exchange-

CB Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez has been loaned to River Plate.

https://www.intermiamicf.com/news/inter-miami-cf-loans-leandro-gonzalez-pirez-to-club-atletico-river-plate

And another defender, Nicolas Figal, is rumored to be heading to Boca Juniors! Lots of rebuilding to be done in Miami.


Austin FC loaned Tomas Pochettino to River Plate. He underperformed expectations in 2021, so Austin will be happy to free up the salary cap space and DP designation. Seems like kind of a "meh" signing for River Plate!

https://www.austinfc.com/news/austin-fc-loans-tomas-pochettino-to-river-plate


Atlanta signed an academy goalkeeper played a number of years at UCLA.

https://www.atlutd.com/news/atlanta-united-signs-ucla-goalkeeper-justin-garces-to-homegrown-deal
 

Titans Bastard

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The draft happened. Players were selected. A few of them will emerge as big players. Most will be USL-level types. Predicting which NCAA players will translate well to the MLS level is hard, and even people who are good evaluators and who watch a lot of college soccer can't do it well. That said, draft products Daryl Dike and Tajon Buchanan were sold for a combined ~$15m this winter, so that's not nothing. And of course, a good chuck of the record-setting Revs team was built from the draft. But the reality is that the growth of MLS academies means that a huge chunk of rising talent is either signed by MLS or a foreign club before they get to college, or is fished out of the college pool via the homegrown rule.


More Inter Miami news: Ryan Shawcross has retired, which frees the club from that misbegotten signing. Blaise Matuidi is reported to be leaving one way or the other (a buyout, perhaps). By the time that and the Figal loan to Boca Juniors is done, Miami will have only two players under contract who made more than $300,000 in 2021 according to the MLSPA numbers. That's wild, and it will give Henderson at least some leeway to try to find enough bargains to put together a decent team despite the league-imposed penalties to their salary budget.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Sounds like Rusnak to the Sounders will be announced today. I really like this signing as it gives the Sounders more firepower.

I will be curious how Schmetzer balances his lineup with the returns of Morris and Lodeiro, and the addition of Rusnak. That's a lot of high quality depth.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Dom Dwyer buyout transaction was a fun MLS moment. Here's another one: Charlotte sold Australian midfielder Riley McGree to Middlesbrough for a $4m base fee that could rise to $6m based on incentives. Charlotte FC, of course, are an expansion team that has never actually played a game to this point. However, they signed McGree last year and loaned him out to Birmingham City for this fall, where he apparently did quite well and had a variety of suitors including Celtic, and now they've decided to sell him. They bought him from Adelaide United for less than $600,000.

Birmingham really wanted to sign him permanently, Charlotte wanted to keep him, but McGree didn't want to be there so they sold, according to their sporting director:

“From day one, myself and the rest of the leadership of this club have been saying that we want players who want to be here,” Krneta said. “We want hungry players who want to be here, who want to be a part of this incredible journey that we’re starting. Riley McGree has become a better player and then decided that he doesn’t really want to come back to us unless he has to. And that wasn’t good enough for us. We didn’t like that. We didn’t like the player who is coming because we are persuading him to come. We want the player to really come here and play for this club and be part of this history. And the moment it was clear that he had doubts, I started looking into options.”
The Rusnak news is official. He's a DP, and they are buying down João Paulo's contract. João Paulo, Roldan, Rusnak, Lodeiro, Atencio. The Sounders have quite the midfield crew.


Austin FC signed Jhojan Valencia, a 25 year old midfielder, from Deportivo Cali.

Inter Miami signed an extremely obscure dual national from abroad, Christopher McVey, a 24 year old Swedish/American CB/RB. He's played for Elfsborg in the Allsvenskan.

SKC signed 21 year old Belgian left back Logan Ndenbe from Guingamp in Ligue 2. He'll compete with Ben Sweat at LB, and given they paid $1.5m for this guy, I assume they expect he'll win that battle. SKC also signed former Rapids CB Kortne Ford. I hope this guy does well — he hasn't played in MLS for three years due to injuries, but looked like a solid pro.

Orlando City re-signed Alexandre Pato, who was injured almost all of last year and will probably get injured again this year... They still need another signing to replace Daryl Dike.
 

67YAZ

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Jhon Duran has arrived in Chicago from Colombia just in time for for 10 degree snowy days. If the weather doesn’t drive him to find a transfer next winter, the Fire’s squad just might.
 

67YAZ

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The Union’s Przybylko reveals that he has an offer from the Fire, some feelers from Europe, and bemoans the lack of a guaranteed contract in Philly. Is he just trying to leverage the Union into a new deal? He’s do so much for the Fire’s attack.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Union’s Przybylko reveals that he has an offer from the Fire, some feelers from Europe, and bemoans the lack of a guaranteed contract in Philly. Is he just trying to leverage the Union into a new deal? He’s do so much for the Fire’s attack.
Based on quotes coming from Jim Curtin today, it sounds real and not like leverage. Not 100% sure it's the fire, but it definitely seems like he's leaving Philly.


In other news, there's clearly a lot more GAM floating around the league because the trade numbers just keep getting bigger. A new record high: $2m.

These numbers are highlighting a particular quirk of MLS rules. If D.C. were to have sold Arriola to, say, Club América, they'd have gotten more straight cash but they'd only have $1,050,000 in GAM to plow back into their salary budget. So right now, it's actually more beneficial from roster-building standpoint to trade players for huge amounts of GAM then to sell them overseas. This dynamic will keep some mid-career players who are very good MLS players who would be useful but not game-changing players for solid clubs abroad in the league. Acosta and Arriola have both been traded for more GAM than the club would have received from a foreign sale.

View: https://twitter.com/tombogert/status/1484224839389007881
 

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Jimy Hendrix

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These numbers are highlighting a particular quirk of MLS rules. If D.C. were to have sold Arriola to, say, Club América, they'd have gotten more straight cash but they'd only have $1,050,000 in GAM to plow back into their salary budget. So right now, it's actually more beneficial from roster-building standpoint to trade players for huge amounts of GAM then to sell them overseas. This dynamic will keep some mid-career players who are very good MLS players who would be useful but not game-changing players for solid clubs abroad in the league. Acosta and Arriola have both been traded for more GAM than the club would have received from a foreign sale.
Speaking of the devil...

View: https://twitter.com/PaulArriola/status/1484264694722433026


Interesting to see the second player in a row in one of these big GAM trades publicly seem not super thrilled about it.
 

Titans Bastard

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I haven’t seen a club try the “appease our city’s largest ethnic group” strategy of roster building in a long time in MLS. Good luck Chicago! (If Lewandowski comes next summer I rescind this comment.)
The Fire have had a solid number of Poles over the years, but not really any big names that might move the needle in a serious way. Unless I'm forgetting someone.

They did have the Cuauhtemoc Blanco era, though.
 

67YAZ

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Mexicans outnumber Poles in Chicago metro by about 2-1 (1.1m to 520k). Real pandering would have been singing Chicarito, but Heitz did make a big push to get Pizarro. Bullets dodged.

I’m happy the Fire have brought in a proven MLS goal scorer still in his prime years. Now, who’s going to get the ball to Przybhlko? There’s lots of smoke around Heitz trying to convince Shaqiri to come MLS-side. Seems like a pipe dream. But this squad needs to find a midfield engine and a creative wing.
 

Senator Donut

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Mexicans outnumber Poles in Chicago metro by about 2-1 (1.1m to 520k). Real pandering would have been singing Chicarito, but Heitz did make a big push to get Pizarro. Bullets dodged.

I’m happy the Fire have brought in a proven MLS goal scorer still in his prime years. Now, who’s going to get the ball to Przybhlko? There’s lots of smoke around Heitz trying to convince Shaqiri to come MLS-side. Seems like a pipe dream. But this squad needs to find a midfield engine and a creative wing.
My post wasn’t completely serious, but I am enjoying the Fire leaning into with his announcement video.

View: https://twitter.com/chicagofire/status/1484903868819546112
 

67YAZ

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Not as good as Beric doing a Chicago handshake, but hopefully this is a better signing.

 

Senator Donut

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These numbers are highlighting a particular quirk of MLS rules. If D.C. were to have sold Arriola to, say, Club América, they'd have gotten more straight cash but they'd only have $1,050,000 in GAM to plow back into their salary budget. So right now, it's actually more beneficial from roster-building standpoint to trade players for huge amounts of GAM then to sell them overseas. This dynamic will keep some mid-career players who are very good MLS players who would be useful but not game-changing players for solid clubs abroad in the league. Acosta and Arriola have both been traded for more GAM than the club would have received from a foreign sale.
TB, this is no longer accurate as of this past season. DC would get nothing in allocation money from selling Arriola. This was buried in the official release announcing the U22 initiative.
  • Beginning in 2021, no amount of a fee earned from the transfer of a Designated Player may be converted into General Allocation Money.
https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/mls-announces-new-initiative-to-further-strategic-investment-in-young-domestic-a
 

Titans Bastard

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TB, this is no longer accurate as of this past season. DC would get nothing in allocation money from selling Arriola. This was buried in the official release announcing the U22 initiative.
  • Beginning in 2021, no amount of a fee earned from the transfer of a Designated Player may be converted into General Allocation Money.
https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/mls-announces-new-initiative-to-further-strategic-investment-in-young-domestic-a
Oof. Well, that makes the internal trade make even more sense from DCU's perspective.
 

Titans Bastard

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Over the last few days, a quartet of DP forward signings were announced by various clubs.

Charlotte signed 25 year old Pole Karol Świderski from PAOK in the Greek league. He'll no doubt start up top but Charlotte still have a lot of work to do to build their roster.

Orlando signed 26 year old Austrian Ercan Kara from Rapid Wien of the Austrian league. Replacement for Daryl Dike.

D.C. signed 26 year old Greek Taxiarchis Fountas from.....also Rapid Wien of the Austrian league. Fountas won't arrive until the summer.

Philadelphia signed 27 year old Dane Mikael Uhre from Brøndby of the Danish league. This guy was pretty nondescript until last season, when he was the leading scorer of the league, and halfway through this season he's at the top of the goalscoring charts again. He's replacing Kacper Pryzbyłko who was dealt to Chicago.

You never know with these types of guys. The Union's GM has a stellar track record of getting value out of European signings, so I'd be optimistic about Uhre based on that alone.
 

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This is a strange one. He barely played at Liverpool, went to Lyon with thoughts that the step down would allow him to have a much bigger impact. He only ended up playing in 11 games for Lyon with 2 goals. Now he steps down again to MLS. I guess he's a young 30 having not played much in recent years. This one feels high beta to me - he either lights up the league or gets hurt and barely plays. I wouldn't know which to bet on.
 

67YAZ

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Hmmmmm….we’ll see. This has been mooted for a while in Fire circles, but I felt like it was based on Shaq’s connection to Heitz more than substance. I’m not going to get excited until he’s holding up an ugly dark blue jersey.

Shaq’s skillset fills a huge need for Chicago, but he’s been a part-time rotational player for 4 years now. And as @Pesky Pole notes, he hasn’t exactly lit up Ligue 1. He’s not going to be able to waltz into MLS and put up huge numbers. I feel like he’ll spend half A season playing his way back into form.