WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Happy Two-Day Trade Window: Today at noon ET, MLS clubs may begin making adjustments to their rosters and conducting trades with other MLS teams. On Nov. 9 at noon ET, that trade window will close. The offseason is officially upon us. Check out the off-season calendar here.
WHICH TEAMS ARE AN LAFC OFFSEASON AWAY FROM TAKING THE NEXT STEP?
The headline question is a little misguided but I had to reel you in here somehow. Pretty much every team in MLS is an LAFC offseason away from taking whatever their next step is. We talked about it yesterday, but I want to hammer home that the 2021-2022 LAFC offseason is as good as we've seen. Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini, Cristian Tello and Denis Bouanga will rightfully grab most of the headlines, but LAFC would have been CGI food if they had only added those four. They would have looked great in theory but lacked a whole lot of substance. LAFC won the double because they signed Ilie Sanchez in free agency and traded for Kellyn Acosta, Ryan Hollingshead, Franco Escobar and Maxime Crepeau. So the answer to "which teams are an LAFC offseason away" is "pretty much all of them." Every single team can take a jump forward by adding proven MLS value to their roster. But as the offseason begins, maybe we can reframe that question a bit. Which teams are a few quality moves away from challenging for a trophy next year? Remember, LAFC missed the playoffs in 2021, but calling that edition of the team "bad" isn't accurate. Their underlying numbers suggested they were hilariously unlucky at times. They also hurt themselves far too often. Their signings last offseason were predicated on correcting that. Basically, they were already close. They just needed to get some moves right. Here are a few teams in the same boat.Sporting KCSKC are going to be somewhere in between a dark horse pick for major success and just, ya know, a pick. A relatively miserable 2022 is the outlier here. A successful 2023 would be a return to form. No one will pat you on the back for thinking they might be good. v Especially after the way they closed their season. With nothing to play for, they began piling up wins and points, thanks in large part to new signings Erik Thommy and William Agada. Especially Agada. SKC went 6W-3L-2D from the time Agada began getting consistent minutes and they were fourth in the league in expected goal differential since his first start on July 30. There are still issues to fix, especially in spots where players are really starting to age out of their most productive seasons. Center back in particular seems to be an issue. But hey, that's what the next few months are for, right?Atlanta UnitedTeam with near-unlimited resources? Check. Team with a season derailed by injuries, catastrophic defensive mistakes and bad goalkeeping? Check. Team that seems to have talent in key positions but could really use a revamp in midfield especially? Check. Atlanta United are the most 2021 LAFC team since 2021 LAFC. Their underlying numbers suggested something better. Their overlying numbers did not. An offseason following the 2021 LAFC blueprint could work wonders for a team that's been severely underperforming for three years now. There will be a ton of pressure on the Atlanta front office to put together something similar. The problem is that there are a bunch of bad contracts to jettison before they can really begin to make moves.FC CincinnatiThere are some unknowns about the future of their outstanding attacking trio, but keeping even just ⅔ of the group around should be enough to have Cincy as a lock for the playoffs. Especially in year two under head coach Pat Noonan and GM Chris Albright. They don't really have to do that much, all things considered. They made plenty of quality moves during this season to address some of their most pressing needs. Signings like Obinna Nwobodo and Matt Miazga were outstanding moves that bolstered this team defensively. Some upgrades at wingback and even more improvements defensively will be enough to make Cincy a favorite heading into 2023.Inter MiamiI might be reaching a bit here. But there's no denying Miami were ahead of schedule in 2022. Last year's offseason saw first-year chief soccer officer/sporting director Chris Henderson do a full fixer-upper teardown and rebuild of the Herons' atrocious initial roster build. It worked out shockingly well. Miami reshaped their midfield, found a legit star in Leo Campana and generally improved across the board. Like Cincy, they seem like another team set to take a step forward in their second full offseason under a new roster czar. Oh, and did I mention they'll probably have three DP spots to play with? They not only have a chance to shore up their back line and add some quality in less high-cost positions, they get to add some star power too. With all of Inter Miami's resources and the attraction of the city itself, they'll be able to pull some absurd talent if they get it right. The Herons might just be the most interesting team of the offseason.Nashville SCIt felt weird to include just one Western Conference team. So, I dug deep and pulled out Nashville. I guess I could have gone with the Galaxy but that felt too easy. Seattle just need Joao Paulo back and healthy more than they need a busy offseason. Portland don't feel all that close or that far away, they just feel like Portland and will probably have the exact same season they've had for like five years now. RSL and Vancouver feel close as a roster, but I'll believe they'll have an ambitious offseason when I see it. So, yeah, I ended up with Nashville. Their offseason needs are as straightforward as they are necessary. Get help for Hany Mukhtar or drown. That's the whole deal.Toronto FCThis is cheating. "Hey guys, the team with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi is just a few pieces away from being really good!" Bold stuff there, Sam. Real brave.
THE READING RAINBOW
Good luck out there. Celebrate with your friends