I’m guessing you’ve heard the news by now. The league’s most loved or hated player, depending how you look at it, has left the building.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent two seasons with the LA Galaxy. He’s decided to make his return to Europe, repping an A.C. Milan jersey again. Today, he scored his first goal since returning to the San Siro.
This news doesn’t affect Toronto FC fans really, but I had to get it out of the way. We also have two new teams entering the league, so that’s an interesting item to throw into the mix.
Now, let’s look at what our conference rivals have been up to during the offseason.
The Busier Bunch
Atlanta United: Atlanta United had a solid 2019 season. So far in the offseason, they’ve dealt midfielder Darlington Nagbe to Columbus Crew FC. In return, they got a lot of allocation money. $700,000 in Target Allocation Money and 150,000 in General Allocation Money to be exact. They’ll also get $200,000 in Target Allocation Money for the 2021 season, depending on the new CBA, as well as an international roster spot for the upcoming season.
Defender Brooks Lennon will also be joining the club from Real Salt Lake in a trade that sent a small portion of their GAM and TAM in return for the 22-year-old defender.
While on Saturday, Atlanta officially announced the TAM signing of Fernando Meza, who will be joining the club while Leandro Gonzalez will be exiting. I will hopefully be able to give you more on that next week.
Chicago Fire FC: After missing the playoffs last season, Chicago Fire took it upon themselves to revamp their lineup. They bid farewell to their head coach Veljko Paunovic. They’ve replaced him with Raphael Wicky who has 27 years of experience on the pitch and the sideline under his belt. Bastian Schweinsteiger retired, Nemanja Nikolic left the club, and they sent their captain, Dax McCarty to Nashville SC for some allocation money and a draft pick. They also let the contracts go for nine players on their roster. Nine!
As for acquisitions, they signed Alvaro Medran. Aside from allocation money, that’s about it so far. There are a ton of rumors, but we’ll get into those next week. Oh... and they also did some rebranding..
Columbus Crew SC: Like I mentioned earlier, former general manager Tim Bezbatchenko’s team Columbus Crew picked up Nagbe from Atlanta United. They also snagged midfielder Lucas Zelarayan with a transfer fee that broke club records. Apparently, it was over $7 million dollars to his former club, Tigres UANL.
Our Trillium Cup rivals then signed goalkeeper Matt Lampson who has only one MLS appearance under his belt, before signing defender Vito Wormgoor, a free agent. They also chose to re-sign our old friend, former Toronto FC striker Jordan Hamilton.
Chris Cadden will also return to the club from loan with One Oxford United.
It seems as though Columbus Crew are going to sign Aidan Morris to a homegrown player deal. He’s a freshman at Indiana University, but that’s about all I know.
D.C. United: It’s no secret Wayne Rooney left the club to return to England with a player coach position. They’ll be bringing on Morelia’s midfielder Edison Flores in hopes to fill some voids. The club has been quiet otherwise, though several—and we mean a lot of rumors—are swirling.
The most intriguing is that apparently, they’re eyeing Real Madrid superstar Luka Modric but who knows if that’ll happen.
FC Cincinnati: It was a disappointing season for FC Cincinnati so they’re making some changes. They’ve acquired defenders Tom Pettersson from Ostersunds FK and Saad Abdul-Salaam who has played for the Seattle Sounders, New York City FC, and Sporting KC. They also received forward Brandon Vazquez, a Nashville acquisition during the expansion draft who was traded to Cincinnati for allocation money. They also now own the homegrown rights to Zico Bailey.
It seems as though they’re close to making a deal with Japanese striker Yuya Kubo. More on that next week, hopefully.
Inter Miami CF: The new guys have made quite a few moves. It started in November with receiving the rights to Victor Ulloa and a number one pick in the first stage of the re-entry draft and a number three pick in the SuperDraft from Cincinnati. They got homegrown rights to goalkeeper Drake Callender from the San Jose Earthquakes.
Of course, they received Toronto FC’s Jay Chapman in exchange for $100,000 in General Allocation Money, while they also snagged defender Grant Lillard from Chicago Fire.
Free agent defender and the ever-familiar Roman Torres will be headed to Florida from the Seattle Sounders.
In another deal with Toronto, they got rights to Juan Agudelo in exchange for a 2021 SuperDraft pick. Oh, and they also selected Robbie Robinson with the first-overall pick in the draft. With rumours still linking the club to high-profile names, this team is going to be good in its first season.
Nouvelle entente de trois ans pour @samuelpiette + option pour 2023 >> https://t.co/9SLd0jsqFY— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) December 18, 2019
New 3-year contract for @samuelpiette + option for 2023 >> https://t.co/IN8ivHLUr0#IMFC pic.twitter.com/0g0xcxN4Wc
Montreal Impact: Former Premier League defender Bacary Sagna announced via Twitter this week that he will be leaving the Montreal club after two seasons.
However, the Impact have also made several positive moves to the newly-appointed manager Thierry Henry’s side. They re-signed Canadian international Samuel Piette to a three-year deal and got Rod Fanni to agree to a new contract, while triker Anthony Jackson-Hamel will also be returning to Montreal.
They also sent defender Daniel Lovitz to Nashville for some allocation money and an international roster spot. It’ll be interesting to see who the French legend rounds out the rest of his squad with in his first season in Montreal.
Orlando City SC: Orlando City has acquired two centrebacks. Rodrigo Schlegel and Antonio Carlos will be joining the squad this season. They will also have a new midfielder in Andres Perea. Orlando signed Jordan Bender to a homegrown contract. They chose to do some serious revamping, letting nine players go in the offseason, including their starting centreback Lamine Sane.
Philadelphia Union: The Philadelphia Union were so close yet so far when it came to reaching the top of the table. They’ve brought midfielder Jose Andres Martinez on board, while defender Aurelien Collin will be returning to the team. They gave FC Dallas the rights to Fafa Picault for allocation money. Philadelphia also dealt defender Auston Trusty to the Colorado Rapids for you guessed it, allocation money.
Keep an eye on...
New England Revolution: The New England Revolution had a pretty good season last year, so they’re adding some new players in hopes of keeping their good luck going.
They added Polish striker Adam Buksa to their lineup, before grabbing veteran defende Seth Sinovic, who happens to have been their SuperDraft pick in 2010. They also re-added Kelyn Rowe to their roster, while also picking up French defender Samba Camara.
New York City FC: New York City FC, in hopes of taking the next step, parted ways with their coach and brought on former Celtic FC boss Ronny Delia. As of Jan. 5, that seems to be about it for them thus far, aside from a few rumors linking them with just about any high-profile name “interested” in coming to the MLS. I’ll have more on the team from the Big Apple next week, hopefully, but in the meantime, their rivals down the road have been slightly more busy.
New York Red Bulls: The New York Red Bulls have done some re-signing. Brian White, Amro Tarek, and Ryan Meara will be back in red next season. They bid farewell to veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles. So even if they don’t make many moves, they’re going to look like a different team.
Any of the moves surprise you thus far? Let us know in the comments below!