2018 Key Transfers: Toronto FC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Toronto FC and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The MLS Cup holders have got a lot to live up to. They head into the 2018 campaign on the back of an historic treble in 2017. Greg Vanney’s side really raised the bar last season and repeating that feat again this time around is going to take a huge amount of work. There have been some exciting new players come in, while Toronto have done well to keep the core of their squad together. With little improvement needed on the face of it, this has been a winter transfer window where the aim has been to keep the squad fresh and ensure there is enough depth to challenge on all fronts once again…

Key Signings

Gregory van der Wiel: Toronto have identified where they wanted to improve on their squad depth. They’ve certainly picked up a quality defender in Gregory van der Wiel. The Dutch fullback is a winner. He has league titles with European giants Paris Saint Germain and Ajax to his name. He was also in the Dutch side that came runners up in the 2010 World Cup. This is certainly an exciting signing for Toronto and further proof they are looking to dominate.

Ager Aketxe: This is a big statement from Toronto and for MLS. Ager Aketxe might not be a household name in European football but he has made the switch from La Liga at 24. He started his career with Athletic Bilbao and spent last season on loan at Cadiz. As a creative midfielder who is known for his ability to finish, Aketxe has the potential to be a real asset to Toronto.

Auro: Another defensive addition to Toronto’s ranks. Auro comes in on loan with the option to buy from Brazilian side Sao Paulo. He has represented Brazil at U17 and U20 level. He is a good option for Toronto due to his versatility of being to play on either the left or the right.

Notable Departures

Benoit Cheyrou: The experienced Cheyrou has called time on his playing days at 36, but his story with Toronto hasn’t ended. He is now working with the TFC academy, which is a huge bonus for the future stars of MLS. Keeping him at the club in some capacity is a good move by Toronto, given he was part of their rise to the top. His career saw him play at the top level in European football and while he is going to be a miss in the dressing room as well as on the field, he will still be a part of the setup for what looks like years to come.

Steven Beitashour: Toronto moved quickly in the winter window to ensure they had cover for their departing players. Beitashour featured 22 times last season for TFC and played in 51 games across his two seasons with the side. A solid fullback who pitched in with supply from the righthand side who will no doubt be a miss. He has moved to expansion side LAFC, who have picked up a good signing.

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2018 Key Transfers: Sporting Kansas City

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Sporting Kansas City and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Sporting Kansas City will class the 2017 campaign as a successful one. Yes, they failed to get beyond the Knockout Round for the fourth-straight year. But they did win the US Open Cup in September and also boasted the league’s best defence, conceding just 29 in 34 games. The aim this year will be to remain tight at the back but improve the attack. They had the third-worst offence in 2017 and will hope their busy offseason work can help them in front of goal…

Key Signings

Khiry Shelton: Shelton joins Sporting KC from New York City FC, where he had been since being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He was mainly used as an impact player off the bench for NYCFC – a role he might have to accept at SKC too. But in 54 appearances, he managed six goals and 10 assists. He’s still only 24 and will hope a change of scenery can spark his MLS career into life.

Johnny Russell: Scottish attacker Russell made the move from English Championship side Derby County to Sporting Kansas City for an estimated £250,000. His contract was due to expire in the summer after five seasons with the Rams and he decided to make the move to MLS in time for the new season. He should be fresh, having only started 13 games during Derby’s 2017/18 league campaign. Expect the 27-year-old to slot in on the wing for SKC this season in a key role.

Brad Evans: MLS veteran Evans joins from Seattle, where he spent the past nine seasons, winning the MLS Cup in 2016. He is unlikely to find his way into the starting XI on a regular basis but he is a great option for depth in a number of positions. Plus, his experience will prove invaluable in the dressing room over the course of the season.

Yohan Croizet: Sporting KC have brought in the 26-year-old Croizet as a Designated Player ahead of the 2018 season, in the hope he can fill the void left by Benny Feilhaber’s departure. The Frenchman joins from Belgian side KV Mechelen, where he scored five goals and assisted seven in 54 games. He is expected to be a key man for SKC in 2018 and fans will hope he can settle quickly into the league.

Felipe Gutierrez: Another Designated Player signing expected to add a real spark to Sporting KC’s attack is Felipe Gutierrez. The 27-year-old Chilean midfielder joins after leaving Real Betis and could prove to be one of the signings of the season. He has 35 Chile caps to his name and is incredibly experienced, having played well over 200 games for four clubs in four different nations. He should adapt quickly to MLS and will either shine in the No. 10 role, or as a box-to-box midfielder, if Croizet is preferred in the No. 10 position.

Notable Departures

Benny Feilhaber: Sporting Kansas City waved goodbye to a real fan favourite, sending Feilhaber to expansion side LAFC in return for $400,000 in allocation money. SKC fans were quick to panic following the 33-year-old’s departure but he was in the final year of his contract and so cashing in now makes sense. He registered 29 goals and 41 assists in five seasons with Sporting KC, also winning MLS Cup in 2013. No doubt, he will be missed on and off the field.

Latif Blessing: Following Feilhaber to LAFC is 21-year-old attacker Latif Blessing, who was also something of a fan favourite in 2017. He only spent one season with SKC, but did score three goals and add one assist in what was a promising campaign for someone so young. The Ghanaian was selected in the second round of the 2017 Expansion Draft after being left unprotected by Sporting KC.

Erik Palmer-Brown: U.S. Under-20 international Palmer-Brown completed a move to Manchester City this winter. He wasn’t a regular in the SKC team but he is a player with huge potential, hence why Man City have decided to make a move for him. The youngster has since be loaned out to Belgian First Division A club KV Kortrijk until the summer. The centre-back played a total of 20 games in his four seasons with SKC, while he spent 2016 on loan at FC Porto.

2018 Key Transfers: Seattle Sounders FC

With the 2018 MLS season just a few days away now, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Seattle Sounders and their key signings and departures ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Seattle Sounders FC look to return to MLS Cup for a third straight year in 2018 after falling short in the final to Toronto FC. With CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) matches on the schedule for Seattle this season, coach Brian Schmetzer has spent this offseason adding depth to his side instead of focusing on bringing big name targets to the club. Veterans Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro are still set to lead the attack, with both eager to bring a second championship to the Emerald City and their supporters. The added depth should allow Seattle to maintain their fitness this year as they look to secure both domestic and international hardware in 2018. The potential loss of Jordan Morris for the season poses a major concern though, if reports about the severity of his knee injury prove to be true.

Key Signings

Waylon Francis: The veteran defender comes to Seattle via trade from Columbus to help add depth at left-back alongside 20-year-old Nouhou after Joevin Jones left for Darmstadt in the winter window (more on him later). He and Nouhou will be competing against each other for minutes this year, something that Schmetzer hopes will push both players to improve throughout the season. Francis has performed well in preseason and picked up Schmetzer’s system quickly as he looks to log serious minutes in Rave Green this year.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem: The Norwegian midfielder was signed on a free transfer from Malmo FF and has already shown his ability to mesh well with Clint Dempsey in preseason, helping to set up goals with quick passes and skilled ball control in traffic. While the Sounders do have a good amount of depth in the midfield already, with the extra CCL matches on the schedule in 2018, Eikrem will give Schmetzer more options and more ability to rotate players for rest. Expect Eikrem to play in an attacking midfield position with the Sounders as well as some appearances as a wing midfielder as needed.

Handwalla Bwana: Seattle’s newest Homegrown Player signing has already impressed this preseason and with the busy schedule this year it’s likely he’ll find first team minutes at some point. Bwana will be trying to replicate Nouhou’s rookie season as he made the most of his rookie contract, playing crucial minutes in the playoffs and setting himself up to be the frontrunner for the left-back position this year. Bwana will have a lot more competition in midfield though and will have to have some stellar performances to steal starts from more veteran players.

Notable Departures

Joevin Jones: Jones’s transfer to Darmstadt was no surprise as the arrangements had been made the previous summer. Much of the late-season drama around Jones stemmed from his desire to leave for Germany in the summer and Seattle’s desire to keep him for the playoffs. Jones grew into a very dangerous attacker from a left-back position and his absence will definitely be felt but with the signing of Francis and growth of Nouhou, Seattle should be able to replace his impact this season.

Brad Evans: The former Sounders captain struggled through injury last season and has gone through constant uncertainty the last few years as he’s been moved from right-mid to right-back to centre-back while Seattle has made numerous signings in those same positions. Evans’s contract ran up this offseason and he exercised his options in free agency to sign with Sporting Kansas City. His departure has already saddened fans and teammates alike as many have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment while wishing him the best including Chad Marshall and yours truly. Truthfully Evans would have found it difficult to get minutes in this roster as deep as it is right now and the move to KC was the best decision for his career

2018 Key Transfers: Real Salt Lake

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Real Salt Lake and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

For Real Salt Lake, the aim will be starting the 2018 season how they finished the last. Yes, they missed out on the playoffs and yes, defensively they were poor. But Mike Petke got the team playing well over the final months of the season, winning eight of their last 15 games. They finished eighth in the West and missed out on the playoffs on the final day, despite winning. Petke has had the winter to reform the squad ahead of his first full season in charge, so expect them to be a strong outfit in 2018…

Key Signings

Pablo Ruiz: RSL will hope 19-year-old central midfielder Pablo Ruiz can settle quickly and become a key member of the team this season. He joins as a Discovery Signing from Chilean club San Luis, where he made 10 league appearances last season. He represented the Argentina U17’s at the 2015 U17 World Cup but is now poised to represent Chile, if he receives a senior call-up. One to keep an eye on.

Adam Henley: Real Salt Lake’s new regular right-back is set to be Welsh-American defender Henley. He joined the club as a free agent this winter, after leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season. He’s still only 23 but will be hoping to reignite his career in MLS. He was born in Tennessee but moved to England aged two, before rising through the Blackburn academy and into the first team. He has two senior Wales caps to his name and is a player who should make a real impact, if he can recapture his form quickly.

Damir Kreilach: RSL made the move to sign Kreilach from second-tier German side Union Berlin for an undisclosed transfer fee. The 28-year-old midfielder has always wanted to play in the United States and will now be hoping to impress in Major League Soccer. He spent the past five seasons with Union Berlin, scoring 33 goals in 157 appearances for the club.

Brooks Lennon: Lennon isn’t exactly a new signing, given he spent last season with RSL. But his loan move from Liverpool was turned into a permanent transfer this winter, which is a huge boost for the Claret and Cobalt. The 20-year-old attacker played 25 games last season, scoring three goals and picking up four assists. He is one of many youngsters ready to try and lead RSL to success this season and beyond.

Notable Departures

Chris Wingert: After having his option declined at the end of last season, Wingert has decided to call time on a 14-year MLS career. The American full-back played 23 games for RSL last season but has decided now is the right time to retire. He represented Columbus, Colorado and NYCFC but will be mainly remembered for his time with RSL. He played a total of 10 seasons with the Claret and Cobalt, winning the 2009 MLS Cup.

Chris Schuler: Another long-time RSL defender to have his option declined was Schuler. The 30-year-old centre-back has been plagued with injuries, halting him for finding any real consistency. He is a talented defender who has unfortunately had opportunities taken away from him. Schuler had been with RSL since 2010 but played just 21 games over the past three seasons.

Omar Holness: 2016 first-round draft pick Holness departs RSL after two seasons in which he failed to nail down a regular starting berth. The midfielder was seen by many as the long-term replacement for Kyle Beckerman in the RSL midfield but started just six games in two seasons. Last season was supposed to be his year but he was rocked when he suffered a torn ACL in July, that would leave him out for 8-12 months. He is still recovering from surgery but has been signed by USL side Bethlehem Steel FC,  the affiliate of the Philadelphia Union.

2018 Key Transfers: Portland Timbers

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Portland Timbers and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The Portland Timbers enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign as they made a strong charge to finish top of the Western Conference at the end of the season. However, they were left stunned as Houston knocked them out of the Conference Semifinals on home soil. That shock was followed by the departure of head coach Caleb Porter, who was loved by everyone associated with the club. He has been replaced with Giovanni Savarese and so how the former New York Cosmos coach handles the transition will be key to how successful Portland are in 2018. Some key offseason moves have been made to try and ensure they remain at the top end of the standings.

Key Signings

Andy Polo: Portland have added another dangerous weapon to their attacking arsenal ahead of the new season as Andy Polo joins from Mexico’s CA Monarcas Morelia. The 23-year-old winger has signed on loan with the option to buy at the end of the season. He is a versatile and speedy winger, who has represented Peru 15 times already, scoring once. The Timbers will hope his addition can fill the void left by Darlington Nagbe’s departure (more on that below).

Julio Cascante: Young defender Cascante joined the Timbers at the start of January in exchange for Targeted Allocation Money. At 24 years old he has already played international football for Costa Rica and has 100 professional matches under his belt. As with Roy Miller and David Guzman, Cascante has joined from Saprissa in his native Costa Rica. He will hope to impress and force his way into the starting XI on a regular basis.

Cristhian Paredes: Paraguayan prodigy Parades has joined on loan from Club America in Liga MX. Yet to play for Club America, Parades started his young career at Sol de America in Paraguay. Similar to Cascante, Parades has already made an appearance for his country. At 19, he has a long career in front of him and a point to prove as Portland will hope he can come in and add a new dimension to their attack.

Samuel Armenteros: Swedish striker Armenteros has joined on loan from Benevento in Serie A. He is yet another international signing, as he has played twice for Sweden. The question that will be posed is can he either partner or dislodge star striker Fanendo Adi in the Timbers strikeforce?

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Notable Departures

Darren Mattocks: Mattocks was the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft but his career has yet to live up to the potential that was assumed of the pacey striker. After spending the past six seasons in the Pacific Northwest with Vancouver and Portland, he is now on his way to DC United. He scored just five goals in 43 appearances for Portland.

Ben Zemanski: Zemanski joined Portland after three seasons with Chivas USA where he was a regular. Life at the Timbers was frustrating to say the least as injuries plagued his time in Portland. With only 15 starts over the last two years, Portland let his contract run out after five seasons and an MLS Cup.

Darlington Nagbe: Nagbe’s move to Atlanta was one of the major shocks of the offseason. Arguably one of the best players in the league on his day, his versatility and creative abilities would be an asset to any team. He was a huge fan favourite in Portland after joining in 2011 via the MLS SuperDraft. He joins Atlanta, with a huge $1.65 million in allocation money going the other way. Nagbe played 214 games, scored 27 goals and won one MLS Cup. Portland have lost one of their biggest stars, so it will be intriguing to see how they cope without him.

2018 Key Transfers: Orlando City

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Orlando City and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

To say it’s been a busy winter at Orlando City would be an understatement. The club have been one of the busiest in MLS since their 2017 campaign came to an end. Plenty have gone, and plenty more have come in as the Lions prepare for a new-look team this season. The outcome appears to be positive. Jason Kreis has revamped his midfield. They started last season with six wins from seven but then completely dropped off, eventually finishing 10th in the East with 39 points. They need to be more consistent and will hope their new-look squad can fire them into the playoffs for the first time. This will be their fourth MLS campaign, so it’s time to start delivering.

Key Signings

Sacha Kljestan: The big question this winter was: ‘Who is going to replace Kaka for Orlando?’ The answer is Sacha Kljestan. The Lions made a big move for the Red Bulls star, sending Tommy Redding and Carlos Rivas the other way. In Kljestan, Orlando have acquired the league’s leading assist provider from both the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. At 32, there are some concerns about his fitness but he has played 97 regular season games over the past three seasons in New York – an average of 32 games a season. This one makes a lot of sense.

Lamine Sane: The Lions made a major move to strengthen their defence with the signing of 30-year-old Senegalese international Sane. The centre-back joins from Werder Bremen, where he scored two goals in 40 appearances. Prior to moving to Germany, he enjoyed a seven-year stay with French side Bordeaux. He will bring vital experience to Orlando and should be a great addition to the backline, so long as he can adapt quickly.

Justin Meram: The signing of Meram has to be one of the best this offseason by any MLS side. The winger is dangerous out wide or in a more central playmaking position and knows the league inside out. All seven of his professional seasons to date have been spent in Columbus but he wanted a new challenge and got his wish as Orlando made a major move for him. They sent $1.05 million in allocation money to the Crew, as well as an international roster spot. Meram has 40 goals and 35 assists in 200 league and playoff appearances and should be a really good addition.

Josue Colman: Another exciting attacking addition for Orlando comes in the form of Paraguayan winger Colman. The 19-year-old joins as a Young DP and will hope to nail down a regular starting role under Kreis in 2018. He joins the club from Cerro Porteno in Paraguay’s top flight after helping them win the Clausura title last year. He will have the right players around him to ensure he fulfils his potential in Florida.

Oriol Rosell: Orlando have signed a great accompaniment to all their attacking moves in Uri Rosell. The former Sporting Kansas City midfielder joins from Sporting CP in Portugal. A total of $400,000 was sent to FC Dallas so that Orlando could secure the No.1 spot in the league allocation order. Rosell is a tough-tackling holding midfielder, who knows the league and at 25, should be a great addition.

Notable Departures

Kaka: Undoubtedly the biggest loss for the Lions this offseason was Kaka. The Brazilian legend retired after his three-year contract with the Lions ended. He failed to lead the Lions to the playoffs as he had hoped but he was an incredibly instrumental figure in and off the pitch, helping to shape Orlando’s identity in MLS and on the world map. He was a three-time MLS All-Star and recorded 24 goals and 22 assists in 75 games.

Giles Barnes: Another attacking player to move on is Barnes. The English-born Jamaican international has joined Liga MX side Club Léon after his option was declined. He scored three goals and added two assists in 34 games last season and leaves MLS after six seasons in which he represented Houston, Vancouver and Orlando.

Antonio Nocerino: The Italian midfielder had his option declined at the end of the 2017 season after failing to ever live up to his billing. He joined from AC Milan and was expected to impress but scored just one goal in 52 games and didn’t register a single assist in two seasons.

Carlos Rivas: Rivas was sent to the Red Bulls along with Tommy Redding in exchange for Kljestan. His departure released a Designated Player slot for the Lions but his dynamic play style might be missed. He played 78 games over three seasons with Orlando, scoring eight goals and picking up 13 assists. Those numbers aren’t DP level though and that’s why he’s been allowed to move on.

Cyle Larin: Larin’s departure couldn’t have gone less smooth. The Canadian striker travelled to Turkey in January to train with Besiktas, without the consent of Orlando. He was contracted to the Lions through 2019 but decided to ignore his contract and tried to force through a move to Besiktas. He eventually got his way as Orlando accepted at least $2.3 million from the Turkish giants. But bad feelings aside, Larin led the team in goals in each of his three seasons and his presence will likely be a big miss in attack.

2018 Key Transfers: New York Red Bulls

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New York Red Bulls and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The New York Red Bulls came close to shocking Toronto in the Eastern Conference Championship game last season but ultimately fell just short. It was a trend of their season. They were good, but saw several close games slip away from them. Jesse Marsch has responded by adding to his already talented squad this offseason. A couple of key faces have gone but the Red Bulls look younger and more dynamic heading into the new season. Their high pressing and intense style of play should ensure they continue to fight at the very top of the East.

Key Signings

Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra: Undoubtedly the signing of the offseason for the Red Bulls, Gamarra arrives after a long and drawn out transfer saga. But the key is, the Red Bulls have got their man. He signs as a Young Designated Player from Argentine side Huracan and will be tasked with replacing the creativity of Sacha Kljestan. At 23, the winger nicknamed “Kaku” is an exciting arrival for the league as a whole and Marsch will hope his new No. 10 can instantly adapt to his new surroundings.

Carlos Rivas: Rivas is yet to really feel settled in MLS after three frustrating years at Orlando City. He played 78 games and scored eight goals but now Rivas has the tough task of making a new-look Red Bulls team successful. After heavy losses this offseason, Rivas is an exciting spark of pace which could help add sharpness to  RBNY.

Tommy Redding: Academy product Redding has been heavily sought out since his debut for Orlando as an 18 year-old. In his three seasons for the Lions he amassed 38 matches. At the age of 21 now, Redding has the chance to move his career up a step as he should be pushing to start for the Red Bulls. He will suit the system and is another young addition to what should be a competitive squad in 2018.

Cristian Casseres Jr: To anyone but a professional scout, Casseres will be a completely unknown entity. A Venezuelan youth international, he is only 18 years old, and has only 15 professional club matches to his name. Casseres was signed as a discovery signing by the Red Bulls and could well be the next big MLS talent. One to keep an eye on…

Notable Departures

Sal Zizzo: Winger turned fullback Zizzo has joined Atlanta United after his option was declined by the Red Bulls. In his three seasons in The Big Apple he managed 72 appearances and became their starting right back. Having been in MLS since 2010, his stint in the league continues and he’s still only 30 years old.

Gideon Baah: A very disappointing end for a promising defender; Baah has been left without a club after the Red Bulls declined his option at the end of 2017. It’s upsetting for Baah as injuries have not been kind to the Ghanaian. He leaves New York with a meager nine appearances to his name and will hope to find a new challenge soon, if he can stay healthy.

Mike Grella: Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the league. Grella has left the Red Bulls for the Columbus Crew. He enjoyed three very good years for the Red Bulls in which he scored 16 times in 73 games. Injuries halted his progression last summer and the franchise have decided now is the right time to move him on. Some fans may remember him being selected by Toronto FC in the 2009 SuperDraft before rejecting them to join Leeds United in England.

Sacha Kljestan: One of the biggest shock transfers this offseason so far. For a big name and talent like Kljestan to be moved on takes some doing. The playmaker moves south to Orlando, with Rivas and Redding moving the other way (as mentioned above). At 32 years old, New York Red Bulls have definitely replaced him with fresher legs. But his quality is unquestioned and he will be a huge loss. The fact he registered 51 assists over three seasons highlights just how effective a creator he is.

2018 Key Transfers: New England Revolution

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New England Revolution and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The 2017 season wasn’t one New England Revolution fans will remember fondly. The team finished seventh in the Eastern Conference for the second successive season. Their 13-15-6 record wasn’t terrible but the squad underperformed and conceded far too many goals. Only LA Galaxy and Minnesota United conceded more goals than the Revs (61) last time out. Brad Friedel has replaced Jay Heaps as the new head coach and Revs fans will hope his arrival ensures the defence is more solid in 2018 as they look to return to the playoffs. Lee Nguyen’s future remains unclear as the playmaker still wants out. He has returned to preseason training but it looks like being a long and potentially damaging transfer saga for both the club and the player…

Key Signings

Cristian Penilla: With Kei Kamara leaving (more on that below), New England had to ensure they brought in a fresh attacking option. The man they have turned to is Ecuadorian striker Cristian Penilla. The 26-year-old has played in the top flight in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico, playing over 200 games. He joins New England on loan but with the option to buy at the end of the season. He might end up being a Designated Player for the Revs, but they are also considering using Targeted Allocation Money to buy down his contract if another big signing is made.

Jalil Anibaba: The Revs addressed their defensive issues by signing experienced MLS defender Anibaba. The 29-year-old joins the club after leaving Houston at the end of the 2017 campaign. He has played 166 regular season games since 2011 for Chicago, Seattle, Sporting KC and Houston. He might not be a regular starter but he’ll add some vital depth across the entire backline.

Wilfried Zahibo: Expect to see a lot of Zahibo in 2018. The French midfielder is a powerful ball-winner, who is vastly experienced despite being just 24. He joins the Revs on a free transfer after leaving Spanish second division side Gimnastic de Tarragona. He has previously played for Ajaccio, Fuenlabrada and Valencia. Friedel is likely to use Zahibo alongside Scott Caldwell in the centre of midfield.

Gabriel Somi: Another defensive addition, Somi is a Swedish-born Syrian who is most comfortable at left-back, but can play a number of positions. He joins on a free after departing Östersunds FK, who have been one of the Europa League’s success stories in 2017/18.

Notable Departures

Kei Kamara: The powerful striker has moved on after one-and-a-half seasons. It comes as no surprise after the player admitted he had never completely settled following his move from Columbus Crew midway through the 2016 season. His next challenge will be in Vancouver, after the Canadian side sent the Revs their first-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in a trade for Kamara. He scored 12 goals and assisted five more in 31 games in 2017.

Benjamin Angoua: The 31-year-old defender leaves New England after just one season. He played 26 games and the club had the option to make his loan move permanent but declined after the Revs struggled so badly at the back in 2017.  He has since returned to France with Guingamp.

Xavier Kouassi: The midfield enforcer is perhaps unfortunate to have been moved on after just two seasons. Kouassi joined the Revs as a Designated Player in 2016 but was ruled out for the season after picking up a serious injury almost immediately. He played 23 games in 2017 and was impressive when healthy. However, New England decided not to give him one more season and have replaced him with Zahibo.

Gershon Koffie: Another midfielder to have left is Gershon Koffie. The 26-year-old has returned to Swedish side Hammarby after his loan expired. He played 23 games last season but couldn’t really stamp his mark on the midfield, despite his reputation of being a tough-tackling box-to-box engine. His departure, along with Kouassi’s and Daigo Kobayashi’s means the Revs will have a very different midfield in 2018.

2018 Key Transfers: Montreal Impact

With the 2018 MLS season edging closer with each day, we are running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Montreal Impact and their key moves ahead of their second MLS campaign in 2018…

Key Signings

Raheem Edwards: Canadian international Edwards is a versatile left sided prodigy. After a breakthrough season last season with Canadian rivals and MLS Cup champions Toronto he was picked up by LAFC in the expansion draft, only to traded to Montreal immediately. Two caps for his country last year were well deserved and he will look to push on this coming season.

Michael Petrasso: Young wing-back Petrasso started out at the Toronto academy before a move to Queens Park Rangers in 2013. After numerous loan spells and frustration with playing time, he has moved back to the great white north. Toronto-born Petrasso is also a Canadian international and a move back to his native land may spark a career yet to really get going.

Saphir Taider: The former Saints Loanee (if only for a month) has yet to reach his potential. As a young 17 year old he put in some very impressive displays playing for Grenoble in France. After two stints with Bologna sandwiched between a spell at Inter Milan, he has made the move to MLS. And at only 25, he still has a lot of life in his career.

Notable Departures

Laurent Ciman: Perhaps the biggest loss to an MLS club this year is Belgian stallwault Ciman. In three seasons with Montreal he has time and again proved to be one of the greatest MLS defenders. He was moved to new franchise LAFC in a surprise trade following the expansion draft, with Raheem Edwards and Jukka Raitala moving to the Impact. He will be a big loss.

Hernan Bernardello: Argentine international Bernardello has finished his second stint in Montreal after only one season. In the two spells at the Canadian franchise he has amassed 53 matches but only registered a single goal. The 31-year-old midfielder started 17 regular season games last term and has since joined Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland.

Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla: Perhaps a worrying sign for not only Montreal but the league as a whole. The 18 year old Tabla is a prospect from the Montreal academy, and has moved to FC Barcelona. For such a young talent to leave the league before really showing what he can do is a potential concern. The move is great for the young forward, but begs the question why MLS is struggling to keep hold of their own young talent.

2018 Key Transfers: LAFC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at the league’s newest side, Los Angeles FC and their key signings ahead of their inaugural MLS campaign in 2018…

Los Angeles FC are entering the league as the 23rd franchise competing for glory in MLS in 2018. Led by the experienced Bob Bradley, many are expecting LAFC to make their mark in the West as they try and become the first expansion franchise to life the MLS Cup since Chicago did it in 1998. Oh, and Chicago were coached by Bob Bradley then too. Realistically, the expectation will be to make the playoffs at the first time of asking and establish a play style. The club have been busy building the squad from scratch. Two Designated Players have been signed, some big trades have been made and the club got two of the first three SuperDraft picks after trading DC for the third spot. Below we have highlighted the standout signings that we expect to make the biggest impact with LAFC in 2018.

Carlos Vela: LAFC brought in Vela from Real Sociedad as their first ever Designated Player. The Mexican star had been with Sociedad since 2011, where he scored over 50 goals in seven years for the La Liga side. Before that, he was with Arsenal, where he struggled to make a proper impact. But after 12 years in Europe, Vela has now made the move to LAFC, where he will be much closer to his friends and family. Reports in Spain suggested the transfer offer for Vela was around €5 million, and he will be expected to be the expansion franchise’s star man in 2018.

Walker Zimmerman: LAFC made a strong move to sign 24-year-old centre-back Zimmerman from FC Dallas in early December. The expansion franchise sent $500,000 in allocation money and the #1 allocation ranking to Dallas for the defender. He has played 89 regular season games over the past five seasons and knows the league well. He missed time last season with a knee injury but is back and ready to help LAFC make their make in their debut campaign. Laurent Ciman: Alongside Zimmerman will be veteran Belgium international defender Ciman. He arrived from Montreal after LAFC sent Expansion Draft picks Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards to the Canadian side. Ciman was apparently left shocked at the trade as he knew nothing about it until he was already an LAFC player. But the 2015 MLS Defender of the Year is now looking forward to working with Zimmerman to become the best central defence partnership in the league.

 

Diego Rossi: Rossi was signed as LAFC’s second Designated Player and is expected to play as an inverted winger in the left side of the attack. He is a highly regarded Uruguayan youngster who was brought in for a reported $4 million from Penarol of Uruguay’s Primera Division. At just 19, Rossi has a lot of potential and is the second youngest DP in MLS history, after Fabian Castillo who joined Dallas aged 18.

Benny Feilhaber: At 33, Feilhaber is unlikely to be able to offer what he did in 2015 when he was an MVP finalist. But he should still be a valuable and vital player for LAFC following his move from Sporting KC. The midfielder played 180 times for SKC, scoring 33 goals and picking up 56 assists. Lots Angeles FC sent $400,000 in allocation money for his services. He will likely end up playing as the team’s number 10, finding gaps in behind the opposition defence for the likes of Rossi and Vela to run into.