Transfer Window: Winners and Losers

Another transfer deadline has come and gone, and it wasn’t without its share of drama. We at Total MLS have spent hours and hours poring over all of the transactions (okay, maybe more like minutes and minutes), but I’m here to make some sense of everything that went down.

Winners:

Chicago Fire

No one was busier this year than the Fire, that’s for sure. Chicago’s best acquisition was 25-year-old Argentine forward Luis Solignac from Colorado where he scored three times and had four assists over 33 appearances in the last year and a half.

Chicago also brought in Armenian forward David Arshakyan. The 21-year-old Arshakyan, who previously played for Lithuanian side FK Trakai, is an imposing presence at 6’4” and should be able to adjust to the physical play of MLS fairly easily.

Solignac, Arshakyan and previously acquired Dutch forward Michael De Leeuw bring some desperately needed depth to the Chicago attack after the Fire traded away DP Kennedy Igboananike. (More on that one later.)

Lastly, the Fire traded away their top allocation spot to Philadelphia for both general and targeted allocation money (how much is really anyone’s guess, although reports have indicated $100k in GAM and $75k in TAM), a 2017 MLS SuperDraft first round pick and discovery rights on an unnamed player. Not a bad haul, if you ask me.

The Fire also traded forward Kennedy Igboananike to D.C. United. The Fire received targeted allocation money and a 2019 third round draft pick, but the deal included a strange clause that the 27-year-old Nigerian will continue to be classified as a Designated Player on the Fire’s roster and budget this year. The odd machinations of MLS accounting sometimes result in some fiscal gymnastics being necessary, and Chicago clearly weren't going to be able to make use of that DP slot immediately. 

We all know that the Fire aren’t going anywhere this season, but a move like this certainly shows a recognition of how dire the club's situation has become. Chicago are the league’s worst team this season with only 18 points. Even worse, though, is the Fire haven’t won on the road since July 12, 2014 when they beat New England 1-0. That’s more than two years ago. Let that sink in.

The Fire are in full-on rebuilding mode right now, and deals like the Igboananike trade may be a necessary evil. That doesn’t make it any easier for their fans to swallow.

Philadelphia Union

Speaking of Philly, the Union made perhaps the biggest splash of deadline day when they brought in USMNT star Alejandro Bedoya. The 29-year-old midfielder joins the Union from French side Nantes, where he made 87 league appearances, scored 11 goals and had four assists. On top of that, they get Bedoya’s #HotelRoomThoughts at no additional cost, so there’s that.

In addition to Bedoya, Philadelphia added Total MLS’ most recent POTW and former Revs man Charlie Davies. The 30-year-old forward made headlines last week when he announced he entered remission from liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer. On the field, Davies has scored 14 goals and earned 8 assists over 61 games with New England. He’s also earned 17 caps for the USMNT.

The Union have been one of the biggest surprises this year, hovering around the top of the Eastern Conference for most of the first half of the season. With a potential playoff berth in sight, Philly wasn’t content to sit back and hope for the best. The addition of Bedoya and Davies should strengthen an already formidable Eastern Conference side.

Colorado Rapids

It wasn’t a deadline day transaction, but the Rapids made MLS’ marquee signing of the year when they acquired USMNT hero Tim Howard. The 37-year-old keeper returns to MLS after spending 13 years across the pond in the English Premier League. The first three years of Howard’s EPL career were spent at Old Trafford with Manchester United, but he’ll be remembered as a Toffee after spending the last 10 years at Goodison Park with Everton. Howard brings years of experience and huge star power to a team in the midst of a Supporters’ Shield race.

The Rapids also added 32-year-old MLS veteran Sebastien Le Toux from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for general allocation money. The French international sits atop the Union record books for games played (191), goals (56) and assists (51) across all competitions.

Le Toux and Howard may not be long-term solutions for the Rapids, but they sure add value and experience to a team who’s got a real shot at the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup this year.

Losers:

FC Dallas

Ok, so it didn’t technically happen by MLS transfer deadline, but it looks like the Fabian Castillo saga may finally come to a close. And it’s not good for FC Dallas.

If you haven’t been following along, FC Dallas and Turkish side Trabzonspor have been in a battle for the services of the Colombian attacker. Castillo even flew to Turkey, apparently without permission from FC Dallas, and appeared to be photographed signing a contract and wearing a Trabzonspor jersey. Dallas later publicly stated that there was no deal and Castillo was expected to return to Dallas. Well, looks like Trabzonspor won in the end.

The way this whole situation transpired isn’t a good look for FC Dallas and MLS. Dallas’ management was made to look foolish and out of touch. Castillo’s agent and Trabzonspor representatives even went all the way to MLS headquarters in New York City to push this deal through.

We may never know what really happened behind closed doors, but at least now we know that Castillo will head to Turkey and Dallas can move on.

FC Dallas will probably be ok. They've still got a ton of attacking talent, but losing a very public transfer tug-of-war is a pretty disheartening outcome for one of the league's premier outfits. 

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC fans had high hopes leading up to the transfer deadline. With all the injuries that have plagued SKC this year, fans were hoping to see some much needed depth, particularly in the attacking third, added to the roster as they a push for the playoffs and navigate the CONCACAF Champions League. Manager Peter Vermes even said that the team had numerous impact transfers they were pursuing.

Well, the deadline came and went and not a peep was heard from SKC. The team reportedly tried to sign 28-year-old Argentine midfielder Sebastian Blanco, but the two sides were just too far apart to reach an agreement.

When asked about his team’s lack of movement in the transfer market, Vermes said “Unfortunately, the marketplace has gotten to a place where (MLS) clubs are over overpaying for players. We understand we have to pay a premium on a player, but not a double or triple premium. We’re just not going to do that.”

That may be a smart position to have, but there’s no way SKC fans come out of this transfer window without feeling disappointed. What’s been an inconsistent side will have to find some consistency if they want to find any success for the remainder of the season.

Houston Dynamo

Houston’s year started off rough before the season even began when the Dynamo lost 14 year MLS vet and six-time All-Star Brad Davis to Sporting KC. Then the team “mutually parted ways” with head coach Owen Coyle. Now, the team has lost its biggest star in a trade with Vancouver.

The Dynamo sent 27-year-old Giles Barnes to the Whitecaps in exchange for general allocation money and right of first refusal for Costa Rican defender Keyner Brown. But the Jamaican forward takes 31 MLS goals with him to Canada. In what’s been a rough year for the Dynamo, Barnes was a bright spot for fans. But things took a turn for the worse once Coyle left the team. Barnes was stripped of his captain’s duties by new manager Wade Barrett, and from then it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Barnes and the club parted ways.

The Dynamo currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference with 20 points.

As for the others:

There weren't a ton of needle moving acquisitions this summer, but Seattle seems to have done themselves a lot of good in picking up 27 year old attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. Lodeiro made his full debut for the club in their 1-1 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy and looked every bit the potential rock they need to build on next season.

San Jose and Orlando swapped Darwin Ceren and Matias Perez Garcia. The Red Bulls added Austrian winger Daniel Royer and also brought in Israeli striker Omer Damari on loan.

While we won't know the true winners and losers of the window until we see how these acquisitions perform in the coming months, many MLS teams seemed to have stocked up well for the back end of the campaign.

Teams can still bring in players that are currently out of contract. 

For a complete list of all transactions, click here.