The 2016 offseason brings the second-ever class of MLS free agents, and in this case, the sequel is much better than the original.
When looking at the pool of free agents, the number of difference-makers available is much higher than in 2015. However, the number of aging stars makes the waters murky.
Veteran Jeff Larentowicz is the first player to make a free agent jump this winter, joining Atlanta United to become the first player to use free agency twice, having joined the LA Galaxy from the Chicago Fire a year ago.
There are certainly several options that could step in and contribute to a number of teams from day one. With that in mind, here’s a look at potential landing spots for some of the top MLS free agents:
MARCO PAPPA – New York Red Bulls. Pappa’s stats prove what many might not think of the Guatemalan: that he is among the best two-way midfielders in MLS. Sure, his take-on success and shot distances are crucial, but his tackling numbers and his team’s defensive records prove he is a valuable piece in a team defensive plan. Fast forward to Jesse Marsch knocking down Pappa’s door, as the club could use depth for deeper midfielders Dax McCarty and Felipe.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY– Chicago Fire. Fire fans aren’t happy, and with good reason after yet another disappointing season despite promises of sweeping change. And with rumors of Bastian Schweinsteiger being offered a lucrative deal, the need to appease Section 8 is greater than ever. Nelson Rodriguez could buy Veljko Paunovic some goodwill by bringing a local star back into the fold, especially a guy with the leadership and athletic ability of Beasley.
ALAN GORDON – Orlando City. The Lions have a proven star forward in Cyle Larin, meaning there won’t be much rotation in Jason Kreis’ lineup. Injuries and national team duty can potentially keep Larin out, though, and a proven goal-scorer that can produce off the bench would be a great pick-up.
MIKE MAGEE– New York Red Bulls. Refer to the Pappa paragraph. Magee is top of the league in terms of hold up play numbers, hardly being dispossessed and recording three times the average number of shots for a midfielder per game. Maybe this move is a bit more possible because of Magee’s MetroStar history.
NAT BORCHERS – New York City FC. Patrick Veiera’s system is not one that all MLS defenders are capable of playing in, that much became painfully clear this season. Borchers ranks fourth in average pass and 2nd pass completion out of players recording 100 or more starts over the last four seasons. NYCFC fans will be hoping their recruiting staff is looking to players with Borchers-like stats to improve their back line this off-season.
JAVIER MORALES – FC Dallas. Need a top playmaker to keep the system going when Mauro Diaz is out? Look no further than the number 10 that has been the class of MLS for the last decade. This is a perfect fit for both sides, as Morales still has a lot to give despite his age.
WILL JOHNSON – Real Salt Lake. RSL has been gutted in recent weeks in preparation for an overhaul, meaning there’s plenty of room from new midfielders. For a player that has been unable to retain a starting spot in top-market teams over the past two years, perhaps a return to his humble beginnings as part of the Utah dynasty is in the cards.
JASON HERNANDEZ – FC Dallas. Oscar Pareja would surely be happy to pick up this more than serviceable centerback after losing Zach Lloyd in the Expansion Draft. Hernandez is superior in the air and has made a career from no-nonsense defending.
HERCULEZ GOMEZ – Minnesota United/Houston Dynamo/San Jose Earthquakes. Gomez is an absolute gem in this free agent class. Gomez is multi-talented and flexible as an effective forward option. The well-traveled striker is above average in defensive numbers, and has standout vision for different types of passes in the attacking third.
What do you think about these proposed moves? Where would you like to see these players go?