Five MLS clubs set to battle for signing of former Liverpool and Chelsea star – report

Five Major League Soccer teams are set to fight for the signing of Spanish striker Fernando Torres this summer, according to Marca. The 34-year-old forward will be a free agent once his contract with Atletico Madrid comes to an end in June, leaving the former Liverpool and Chelsea star free to negotiate what will surely be the final move of his career.

Torres has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League but it’s understood he is not keen on making the move to Asia. He rejected the chance to join CSL side Dalian Yifang in February and would reportedly prefer a move to the United States.

With no La Liga sides making Torres an offer at this point, and just a month left of the season in Spain, Torres is looking to MLS. The five clubs who are reportedly interested in bringing him to the league are Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, New York City FC, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.

A move to NYCFC would allow Torres to link up with former international teammate and good friend David Villa. The pair fired Spain to Euro 2008 glory as well as the 2010 World Cup title. New York City FC do not currently have a Designated Player slot free though, so Torres would need to accept being a TAM signing to move to the Big Apple.

Chicago and Montreal are the only sides of the five linked that have a DP slot available. It’s not certain that Torres would need to fill a DP slot, particularly at 34 years of age. But it will certainly help negotiations having that option.

The Fire are a particularly interesting option, given the fact that Torres played with Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic during his first spell at Atletico Madrid. The pair spent two seasons together in 2003/04 and 2004/05.

On top of that, Chicago own the discovery rights to Fernando Torres if he does indeed move to MLS, according to league sources. The Fire have opened the 2018 season with just four points from their opening five games. They’ve scored seven goals but could undoubtedly benefit from partnering Torres with 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic up front.

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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: 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: LA Galaxy

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 LA Galaxy  and their key signings ahead of their MLS campaign in 2018…

LA Galaxy endured a season to forget in 2017. They finished bottom of the Western Conference and had very little to shout about. They won the least amount of games across MLS and they need to improve both offensively and defensively so they can push themselves back to familiar territory in the coming season. The Galaxy faithful have seen plenty of business during the window with some key faces coming in and departing.

Key Signings

Perry Kitchen: Solidity in defensive positions has been a must for Galaxy in the offseason and this is a signal of their intent. Perry Kitchen spent five good seasons with DC and had been a key member of the squad, starting 155 of his 158 games. He has returned to MLS following a spell in Europe. His experience and versatility is what Galaxy need and they will be hoping he can make an impact for them from the off.

David Bingham: Bingham is expected to be the new number one. LA Galaxy have decided to opt for the former Quakes ‘keeper as their new last line of defence. With three goalkeepers departing, including Brian Rowe, Bingham will be making his 100th MLS appearance in gameweek four providing he is the first choice. With that in mind he has plenty of experience and at 28 he has plenty of years ahead of him, so this looks a good signing.

Chris Pontius: Signed as a free agent after being released from Philadelphia, Chris Pontius looks to be a very good pickup for the Galaxy. An MLS veteran, Pontius is heading into his tenth campaign, having scored 45 goals in 215 games. He can be deployed in an attacking midfield role or as a forward, so he gives LA Galaxy options.

Ola Kamara: Galaxy needed to improve from front to back and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Off the back of two very impressive seasons, Ola Kamara has been picked up after scoring 34 goals in 59 games for Columbus Crew. There is going to be a lot of expectation on his shoulders with stats like that. Galaxy are also being linked with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Hernandez, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more attacking signings come in to support Kamara before the start of the season.

Notable Departures

Robbie Rogers: The 30-year-old defender has called time on his playing days, Robbie Rogers made 184 appearances over a 10 year MLS career. His ability to be utilised on both the right and left of the field means he is going to be an option the Galaxy will miss.

Jermaine Jones: LA Galaxy have decided to allow the experienced 36-year-old midfielder to move on. 2017 was the most appearances he’s made in one season since his move over to MLS from European football. Now may be a good time for both the player and club to seek new adventures with Galaxy needing to freshen up a side that underdelivered in 2017.

Gyasi Zardes: The last two seasons haven’t been too enjoyable for Gyasi Zardes, through injury in 2016 and Galaxy’s worst ever campaign last time out. Making 131 appearances and scoring 34 goals over five years at the club, he’s one the Galaxy fans will miss. A fresh start for him at Columbus is now in store, which he will be looking forward to.

Brian Rowe: The Galaxy have parted ways with Brian Rowe after six years. He made 45 appearances over the course of the last two seasons, although he isn’t being tipped as a number one choice for his new club Vancouver.

Jose Villarreal: LA Galaxy have decided to allow their second-ever homegrown signing to move on. At just 24, Jose Villarreal has 68 MLS appearances to his name, all with LA. There is more expected from him with plenty of time to continue to improve. A squad player who has the ability to make an impact and someone that will certainly need replacing if Galaxy want to keep good depth to their numbers.

2018 Key Transfers: FC Dallas

As the 2018 MLS season closes in, we will run through the key additions and losses 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 look at all FC Dallas’ key transfers and what it could mean for them in their 2018 MLS campaign…

Not only did FC Dallas fail to retain their Supporters’ Shield title last term, they failed to even make the playoffs for the first time in four years. Despite a strong start to the campaign, a 10-game winless run through the end of the summer saw them plummet down the Western Conference and they eventually finished seventh. They only narrowly missed out on the playoffs but the aim in 2018 will be to bounce back. Some key faces have left this winter, but replacements have been brought in and Oscar Pareja will be hoping to see the best of Dallas once more.

Key signings

Santiago Mosquera: FC Dallas have spent a reported $4 million on signing Colombian attacker Santiago Mosquera ahead of the 2018 season. The 23-year-old will occupy a Young Designated Player slot and should be an exciting addition to the Dallas team as they prepare to fight their way back into contention in the West. Mosquera scored nine goals in the Colombian league for Millonarios last term and should suit Oscar Pareja’s system well.

Jimmy Maurer: Having spent a week on loan with Dallas last season, Maurer joined on a permanent deal this offseason. He is most commonly known for his 105 appearances for the New York Cosmos in the NASL. Signing on a free transfer, we can only envisage him as a good backup option to Jesse Gonzalez.

Anton Nedyalkov:Nedyalkov is a Bulgarian international who joined from CSKA Sofia just before Christmas. At only 24, he brings a lot of promise as he was voted Sofia’s Fans Player of the Season in 2016/17. His signing comes not only as a positive for Dallas but for MLS, showing the attraction for young talent from Europe is increasingly stronger.

Reto Ziegler: Former Tottenham Hotspur left back, Ziegler has travelled around Europe over the past decade. Signing for Spurs as an 18 year old in 2004, Ziegler showed signs of elite talent but never lived up to the potential. Stints at the likes of Sampdoria, Juventus, Fenerbahce and most recently FC Sion have culminated in a move to Texas, where he will hope to play regular football.

Francis Atuahene: Fresh faced striker Atuahene joins courtesy of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, coming in as the fourth overall pick. At 5’9 he is not the biggest, but for what he lacks in stature he makes up for in pace. Ghanaian born Atuahene moved to the states via the Right to Dream Academy and will be hoping to make an immediate impact in 2018 with the Western Conference outfit.

Notable Departures 

Chris Seitz: Experienced keeper Seitz has left for Houston as his contract has expired. An MLS player for over ten years now, Dallas have lost an old head and a very good keeper at that. But with the emergence of Jesse Gonzalez over the past few seasons, Seitz has seen playing time decrease rapidly and has rightly moved on.

Hernan Grana: The highly regarded Argentine right back saw his loan end and his option declined to make his stay permanent. He returns to his native Argentina, as he did when his short stay in Columbus came to end as a result of homesickness in 2015. Known for his aggressive attacking play, Grana was a key player for Dallas last term. He played 30 games, registering one goal and four assists.

Javier Morales: No surprises here. As an MLS Cup winner in 2009 with Real Salt Lake, Morales will go down as one of the MLS greats after 10 seasons in the league. Having only played a season in Dallas, Morales finished with 15 appearances and a solitary goal. He was brought in as creative cover for the injured Mauro Diaz a year ago but is no longer required in Texas.

Walker Zimmerman: Recently capped USMNT international Zimmerman would be a loss to any MLS squad and LAFC have picked up a very good young player with $500,000 in allocation money coming to Dallas. Since joining as a first-round draft pick in 2013, he made 89 appearances over five seasons, scoring seven goals and one assist.

2018 Key Transfers: Columbus Crew

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the key additions and losses 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 Columbus Crew’s key transfers and what it could mean for them in the 2018 MLS season…

Columbus Crew are heading into the 2018 season with plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the club. Relocation concerns are still hanging over the franchise and key players have moved on to rival teams. Gregg Berhalter is preparing for his fifth-straight season as the Crew head coach but he knows the team needs some more firepower if they are to make the playoffs once again. They finished fifth last term after a strong end to the season and beat Atlanta and New York City FC in the playoffs. However, they couldn’t get past Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship game. They ended the season on a high, on the field, and need to try and hit the ground running with a new-look team this time around…

Key Signings

Mike Grella: Grella has proven himself as a dangerous playmaker in MLS since joining the Red Bulls ahead of the 2015 season. He scored 16 goals and added 13 assists in his first two seasons with the Red Bulls but was ruled out for the season back in June last year. He was picked up by Colorado in the re-entry draft but instantly traded to Columbus in return for a second-round draft pick in 2019. The Crew will hope he can stay injury-free and settle quickly into a new-look Columbus attack.

Gyasi Zardes: Alongside Grella will be fellow new arrival Gyasi Zardes, who has been sent to Columbus from the Galaxy following a big trade for Ola Kamara. Zardes had been with his hometown club for five-straight years, but saw his involvement drop off massively over the past two seasons as a result of injury troubles and poor form. He needs to play more games, and should get that opportunity with the Black and Gold. He also needs to play in his natural attacking position, after being deployed at right-back during the latter stages of his time with the Galaxy. He has the potential to be a hit, but it’s a major ask for him to replace Kamara’s goals.

Milton Valenzuela: This is a player to look out for in 2018. The 19-year-old left-back has joined the Crew as a Designated Player on loan from Newell’s Old Boys with the option to buy. Valenzuela will be classed a Young Designated Player this season and is expected to be a regular starter at left-back, replacing the departed Jukka Raitala and Waylon Francis. He is an attacking full-back, who should suit Gregg Berhalter’s attacking style of play perfectly. Expect him to impress.

Notable Departures

Waylon Francis: The loss of Francis means Columbus are left thin at left-back. Raitala also left and although Valenzuela has arrived, the absence of Francis in the dressing room could be a blow after spending the past four seasons with the club. He has joined the Seattle Sounders, where he will hope to see more game time after two consecutive years of struggling to nail down a regular starting berth with the Crew.

Ola Kamara: Kamara’s exit had looked on the cards for some time and it was made official following the 2018 MLS SuperDraft as LA Galaxy sent Zardes and $400,000 in allocation money the Crew’s way. Kamara scored 34 goals in 59 appearances for Columbus over two seasons and his absence will more than likely be felt. Particularly if Zardes fails to hit the ground running.

Kekuta Manneh: Manneh was expected to be a hit in Columbus after joining from the Whitecaps last year but he managed just four goals and three assists in 19 games. He was offered a contract to remain with the Crew for the 2018 season but has decided to make the move the Liga MX instead with Pachuca. His loss adds to depth problems in attack as things stand, with Kamara and Meram’s departures leaving Columbus short of options in attack.

Justin Meram: Columbus made it clear they wouldn’t let Meram leave the club unless they received a significant offer this winter. That was even after the winger had made it clear he was looking for a move, as a result of relocation concerns and because he was looking for a new challenge. Everyone ended up happy. Meram got a new challenge and Columbus received a significant offer as Orlando City sent $1.05 million in allocation money as well as an international roster spot. Meram’s loss will no doubt be felt, both on the field and off it. He was a fan favourite after being drafted in 2011, going on to score 37 goals in 188 games.

2018 Key Transfers: Colorado Rapids

As the 2018 MLS season closes in, we will run through the key additions and losses 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 look at all Colorado Rapids’ key transfers and what it could mean for them in their 2018 MLS campaign…

Colorado Rapids go into the new MLS Season with a new manager as Anthony Hudson has replaced Pablo Mastroeni permanently after Steve Cooke filled the role in the interim following Mastroeni’s departure in August. Hudson was most recently the head coach for the New Zealand national team, and has also held coaching positions at Tottenham Hotspur and with the Bahrain national team. At 36, he becomes the youngest head coach in Rapids history. His job will be to get the Rapids back to the level they were at in 2016 after a shocking 2017 season. They finished 10th in the Western Conference, scoring just 31 goals.

Key signings

Jack McBean: McBean has been brought in via a trade from LA Galaxy. The 23yearold striker has been on the fringes of the Galaxy team for a few years now and will relish a fresh chance. In return, Galaxy received a conditional fourth-round draft pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. With two goals in 18 appearances last term (10 of those from the bench), McBean will be looking to start more games in Colorado.

Jack Price: The English midfielder has spent the entirety of his career to date with Championship high-flyers Wolves in England. Having fell out of favour with the midlands outfit, Price has crossed the Atlantic. A central midfielder who played as a winger at a young age, Price will be used to operating in a 4-4-2 system and could flourish in an open league like MLS. Having only played five games for Wolves this year he should be fresh and raring to go in time for the start of the 2018 season.

Danny Wilson: Scotland international Wilson has joined from Rangers. As a promising youngster he got a dream move from the Scottish giants to Liverpool in the Premier League. But after spending three years with them and only playing two games for the Reds he moved back north. Most recently, he has had three successful years back at Rangers winning the Scottish Championship in the 2015-16 season.

Andrew Dykstra: He will be a backup to USMNT keeper, Tim Howard but nonetheless, he will be a solid option. Formally of DC and Chicago Fire, Dykstra spent last season with Sporting Kansas City, and also went on loan to Swope Park Rangers – the recently formed SKC affiliate. SKC received a second-round pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft in return.

Notable Departures 

Joshua Gatt: Josh Gatt is a quick winger whose career has somehow drifted of course. Once a prodigy lighting up the Norwegian top tier playing under Ole Gunner Solskjær. Gatt has left after only 15 appearances for the Rapids, following an early season trade from Minnesota United. With only the single goal for the Rapids in a frustrating season, there’s no surprise why he has been let go.

Mohammed Saeid: Saeid is the former Columbus Crew midfielder who was part of the trade that saw Gatt join the Rapids from Minnesota. And much like Gatt, Saeid was disappointing and has been let go. Playing 29 games and also chipping in with just the solitary goal last term, Saeid has joined Lyngby BK after they snapped him up in December – a Danish Superliga side that finished in a respectable third last season.

Alan Gordon: The powerful striker has parted ways with the Rapids after just one season in which seems to be a theme after such a disappointing 2017 campaign for the club. The two-time MLS Cup winner played 26 times last season, scoring three. Seen as merely a good option for the bench these days, it will be a shame if he isn’t picked up by another MLS side but at 36 years old, retirement is by no means out of the question.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Alan Gordon Axel Sjoberg

Bobby Burling: The defender is out of contract with the Rapids and it seems as though it will stay that way. Former Chivas USA and San Jose Earthquakes defender Burling would still be a good squad player for any MLS side. But at 33, doubts remain over his fitness, having spent periods of last season out on the sidelines.

Can Chicago Fire lure Bundesliga winger Jakub Błaszczykowski to MLS?

For many of the teams who haven’t participated in the latter stages of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the winter transfer speculation is already in full swing, as fans begin to wonder which trades will be made ahead of the 2018 campaign. Following Chicago Fire’s 4-0 Knockout Round defeat against New York Red Bulls at the end of October, they have already begun making enquiries about potential signings.

Chicago Fire concluded the regular season with a respectable third position in the Eastern Conference table, but despite also being the third-highest scoring team in MLS, their goal difference numbers took a hammering due to a leaky defence. Strengthening at the back will be a priority if the team is to push further for honours next year, but management are also looking at bringing in key attacking players.

One such attacking option is winger Jakub Błaszczykowski, with rumours initially surfacing in July and seemingly gathering pace. In November, there was further speculation in his home country, with the Polish international reportedly pondering his future options. Although one move apparently being considered is a return to his former club, Wisła Kraków, there appears to be a growing belief he is seriously considering Chicago Fire as his next destination; partly due to having family already living in the Windy City.

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However, such a move by Chicago Fire won’t be without inevitable difficulties. Błaszczykowski still has two years on his contract with current club, Wolfsburg, who have struggled to build any momentum in the Bundesliga so far this season. With more draws than either wins or defeats this term and sitting uncomfortably in mid-table, Bundesliga betting odds at 66/1 for a top-six finish have lengthened considerably, compared to the start of the campaign.

Wolfsburg could demand a transfer fee to release the 31-year-old from his contract, but after signing German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in March of 2017 from Manchester United, and with an option to extend his stay for another year, Chicago Fire have already shown they’re not afraid of splashing out on important signings. Błaszczykowski would undoubtedly be another important capture, if they can push it across the finishing line.

Something that could aid Chicago Fire in their pursuit of the Polish player, is his lack of action during the current Bundesliga campaign. Błaszczykowski has slipped down the Wolfsburg pecking order this season and also struggled with some injuries, making just five starts and two substitute appearances in the Bundesliga, plus two further appearances in the DFB Pokal. This is possibly a key factor contributing to the player pondering his future elsewhere.

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Undoubtedly the biggest hurdle facing the MLS club might be a desire to get a quick decision from the player. Ideally, they would want to have a move for Błaszczykowski done and dusted in the European winter transfer window, making him available for their 2018 preseason plans. Still a regular international with the Polish national team, their participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer could prove to be the deciding factor, at least in the mind of the player himself. He might feel his possibilities of featuring at the World Cup could be hampered, were he to accept an immediate offer from Chicago Fire, rather than stay in Europe and fight for his place at Wolfsburg for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. Much convincing and cajoling will be required on the part of the MLS club, if they’re to get their man any time soon. Otherwise, the speculation surrounding the future of Błaszczykowski looks set to continue for at least another couple of months.

Obafemi Martins reportedly seals China move, Seattle yet to confirm

The big-spending Chinese Super League looks to have lured another talented player as Obafemi Martins’ time with the Seattle Sounders has reportedly come to an end.

ESPNFC first reported on Friday night that Martins was the subject of interest from the CSL, with BBC Sport then confirming that Shanghai Shenhua had indeed secured the services of the 31-year-old Nigerian striker.

That does not appear to be a certainty just yet though. The Seattle Sounders have yet to confirm whether their Designated Player has left the club, with General Manager Garth Lagerwey claiming “it could take a while” for a resolution to the situation.

“We’ve had an approach from a Chinese club for his services, and it could take a while to have that resolved. Hopefully we’ll know more by the end of the week,” Lagerwey said in a club statement on Sunday.

Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders

If Martins does indeed make the move to Shanghai Shenhua, he would link up with former New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, as well as Senegalese striker Demba Ba.

Several big names have made the move to China over the past month, with the Chinese transfer record being broken four times in this transfer window alone.

If Martins does leave Seattle, the Sounders would have a Designated Player slot freed up. But with less than three weeks until the start of the 2016 MLS season, the timing of his departure would raise concerns.

The former Inter Milan and Birmingham City striker has scored 40 goals with 23 assists since joining Seattle in March 2013.

How much of a blow would the loss of Obafemi Martins be for Seattle?