Quietly, the MLS transfer window ended Thursday night.
A really unusual period; it goes with the rest of the season and life in general in 2020.
The possibility of spending was no longer the same. The possibility of even making certain players cross borders (talk to the Impact) was no longer the same. In fact, having the market between August 12 and October 29 was also unheard of.
But transfers, there have been. It wasn’t quite the same frenzy as it used to be, but there were some things that did happen that deserve our attention.
Here are five observations on the latest MLS transfer market:
The Impact is preparing for 2021
Without making too many waves, the Impact, through its sports director, Olivier Renard, has continued the facelift done to its squad since last winter. It is clear that the decisions taken in the last few weeks were aimed much more at preparing for 2021 than at ending 2020 in force, although the organization is still hoping for a playoff appearance in November.
It had also been clear for a long time that the club needed help as a striker. Renard began to attack the problem by getting American Mason Toye of Minnesota United in return for $ 600,000 in allowance amounts. Toye is not a star, he does not come with guarantees, but his potential is undeniable and the idea of putting him in the hands of Thierry Henry is obviously very good.
His first appearances showed a young man looking for his bearings in a new game system. Toye remains a project, but his acquisition is very interesting.
The most significant transfer to the Impact camp, however, remains the departure of Algerian midfielder Saphir Taïder to Al Ain, Saudi Arabia. The Impact received a few hundred thousand dollars in return from the 28-year-old, but mostly freed himself from his salary and his place as designated player. Both will undoubtedly be reinvested in a new player who will fit more with what the current administration wants to put in place.
We must not ignore the departure of veteran goaltender Evan Bush, traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps for next to nothing, another operation that allows the club to free up more space under the salary cap.
And what about Mustafa Kizza, the young Ugandan player acquired at the start of the summer and brought with difficulty to Montreal this fall? The 21-year-old left-back is in town, he’s in quarantine, but according to our soccer descriptor Frédéric Lord, don’t expect to see him play for the club in 2020.
Inter Miami on everyone’s lips
After a year of having been linked by rumor to a succession of big names, including Lionel Messi (!!), the « David Beckham club » ended up making its financial power speak, this summer, by going for two big names who had just left Juventus Turin: Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain and French midfielder Blaise Matuidi, winner of the last World Cup.
Both are in their 30s, but still have a very good level. Inter have also repatriated Gonzalo’s older brother Federico, who is now a very practical “super sub” in midfield for coach Diego Alonso.
Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
If we add to that the arrival of defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, back in MLS after a short Mexican break, here are four players who have changed the face of the expansion squad in a few weeks.
The effect is obvious too: having spent most of the season in the bottom of the standings in the East, Inter Miami are currently in the playoff portrait, where they could become a tough opponent. However, qualification is not certain and the injury recently suffered by defender Nicolas Figal, who will be absent for a few weeks, is a good thorn in the side with two more games to play in the 2020 season.
Saudis come to loot MLS
The Saudi clubs are, it will not surprise anyone, often well in means and they did not hesitate to come to do their shopping in MLS in the last weeks.
Thus, Al-Nassr allowed Atlanta United to part with the never happy midfielder “Pity” Martinez with the club, in return for a handsome $ 18 million. The 2018 MLS Cup champions then responded by replacing him with another midfielder, Marcelino Moreno, who arrives from Lanús, Argentina. Quickly done well done.
Then it was Al-Ahli who jumped into action by seeking Romanian winger Alexandru Mitrita on loan from New York City FC. Family reasons have been given for his departure, but it is not certain that the 25-year-old will be seen again in New York. Which is a shame: Mitrita is a lively striker, capable of spectacular play and he was having good times sporting when he left the club. NYC FC will replace him, of course, but will find themselves immediately with one less important element while the playoffs are in sight.
Finally, as mentioned above, Al Ain also moved by getting Saphir Taïder, of the Impact, also left citing personal reasons. However, it is a safe bet that the Algerian international receives a very nice paycheck to his new club. Like NYC FC, the Impact will be able to replace its departed player, but not immediately.
Reminder: ex-Toronto FC striker Sebastian Giovinvo, who had very good seasons in MLS between 2015 and 2018, has also played in Saudi Arabia since last year.
Popular local products
MLS has also seen two of its best young local talents being acquired by European teams, continuing its mission to become a league that produces talent and where the powers of the sport increasingly come to recruit.
This time, it was the Americans Reggie Cannon and Brenden Aaronson who found a taker on the Old Continent.
The first, a full-back, left FC Dallas for Boavista, Portugal, in return for $ 2.75 million (according to Transfermarkt). The second, trained at the Philadelphia Union, will leave next winter for Austria and Red Bull Salzburg, where he will join his compatriot Jesse Marsch, club coach since 2019.
These are two talented players, also called to shine in the national team. Above all, there is a good chance that their performance will continue to attract recruiters to America. Aaronson, in particular, is an extremely complete midfielder and has just turned 20. The rest of its development promises to be very interesting for soccer fans … and the MLS.
Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The Sounders reunite the old gang
Once again, the Sounders, two-time MLS Cup champions since 2016, will have to be taken seriously during the playoffs. Because they are still going there to get it all out.
As proof, they even took care to bring together the defense they had in place last season by repatriating Roman Torres, who left for Miami in the expansion draft, and the Australian side Brad Smith, returned in September with the club to which he had initially been loaned during the 2019 season.
In short, the machine remains well oiled while the cycle started in 2015 may be in its last miles, since his playing master, midfielder Nico Lodeiro, could then leave, during the off season … in Arabia. Arabia.
Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports