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Which MLS teams had the best and worst off-seasons?

With the MLS winter transfer period concluding last week, I couldn’t help but start to think about which teams did the most to improve their rosters this off-season on the international and MLS player markets. This led me to do a piece for that will appear later today on the subject.

I broke the league’s 14 teams into the team’s with the best, worst and mixed off-season results. The MLS draft wasn’t included, just transfer acquisitions and trades. Yes, I know, it’s April and we won’t really know who did the best this off-season until season’s end, but who says we can’t offer up our opinions now?

So here’s the question to you. Which teams do you think had the best off-seasons? How about the worst? Share your thoughts on it and try to keep it impartial (although I’m sure Red Bulls fans won’t have a problem ripping their team for a terrible off-season). I will post a link to my story when it becomes available.


  1. For those that say the Crew added nothing. Well they added 3 guys currently starting for a team that has so far grabbed 9 points out of 12. Moffat, Carroll, and Padula are all starting with Moffat added at the very end of last season, Carroll added in the off season, and Padula added a couple weeks ago. Not to mention Nigerian U-23 midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo, and Brazilian Guiherme So. The ony real loss being defender Marcos Gonzalez. I would say they have improved their squad.

  2. John? TFC has added foreign talent:

    Laurent Robert (French Int), Rohan Ricketts (England Int), Amado Guevara (Honduran Int.), if Ives is right Tebily (Ivory Coast Int). The list will continue my friend….trust me

    Posted by: DigzTFC | April 18, 2008 at 12:39 PM

    I believe the question is about PRESEASON. For instance, I rate Red Bulls poorly for their PRESEASON acquisitions. But by the end of the season, I think they will have made some smart impact additions. If I’m not wrong, I believe that Guevara, Robert, Ricketts were all added after the preseason ended.

    In fact, a team can add a player a week before the season kicks off (technically still preseason) and I still think that’s usually bad. MLS teams have got all off-season to plan. Some of these teams (Columbus was a great example) knew what their team needs were 2 years ago–so to not address them is inexcusable. I happen to think that TFC may have made some fine acquisitions. But the question wasn’t about who has made the best “in-season” moves. Maybe that’s for a later column.

  3. Coming from NYC, I am watching the Crew intently. You see some real team chemistry there, especially with their combined attitude to fight for a win.

    Moreno and Rogers will go double digits this year for goals. Schelotto is going to lead league in assists.

    Team is something to keep an eye on.

  4. Adam Moffat was signed last September by the Crew, less than 2 weeks after the Revs added Nyassi & Mansally.

    Anyways the Crew basically lost nothing so I might put them in the top category anyways with or without Moffat counting.

  5. @ Mighty

    This is “Soccer by Ives” not “NYRB by Ives” so you need not worry about FIRE fans posting here.

    And please NYRB fans please do not post insults and name them after FIRE players/fans – the bad blood has been stoked enough to last all year.

    IVES – i do think it is too early to comment on this subject as many teams lost key players or have not completely filled in their rosters yet. Maybe after the summer transfer window we’ll have a better idea on this topic.

  6. It seems easier to draw up a list of bad offseasons than good ones, but I don’t want to be that negative.


    KC – Reloaded (and upgraded) at forward, I like the look of Myers, kept all the important players.

    Columbus – Kept the core together, Schelleto from freaking out that he’s in Columbus, and added a few solid pieces

    RSL – Tough to beat their 4 pickups of Borchers, Joy, Kovalenko, and Deuchar for adding solid starters; kept the right pieces too.

    NE – Even if they lost ground overall, they do such a good job reloading given how many of their guys leave.


    Hou – Most of it’s been said, but I’ll add that I think that lack of speed will kill this team, especially at the back.

    LA – It’s the bad decisions at the $75k – $150k range plus no impact rookies outside of Franklin that have them in this mess. Maybe Pires comes around, but even then it’s still ugly.

    NY – Lame in the extreme. I’m not actively a fan, but they could/should be a ton of fun to watch with JPA and JA up top, so I’m pretty disappointed. Letting Kovalenko go pushed me over the edge, they no longer have my trust they are being wisely cautious.

    Who Knows:

    DC – Could go either way, jelling into a great team, or the wheels could fly off with lack of pace on defense and their forwards inexplicably being crap.

  7. How do you factor in the integration of reserve-team players into the starting line-up when evaluating a team’s off-season? I don’t remember Ives being particularly effusive in his praise of Colorado’s move for Christian Gomez (I could be wrong), but in looking at the Rapids’ off-season it was almost impossible to predict the (so-far) seamless incorporation of reserve players Kosuke Kimura, Stephen Keel, John DiRaimondo, Nick LaBrocca, and Omar Cummings. So an evaluation of the Rapids off-season while focusing only on Gomez or Burciaga would be totally irrelevant, although I can’t remember any commentators talking about the Rapids reserve squad performances over the past couple of years.

    Given the league salary restrictions (and limited movement of DPs), it’s somewhat ridiculous to use big name signings as a benchmark for improvement. With limited financial maneuvering, real long-term improvement can only come through building a real reserve team and making intelligent, financially sustainable, low-budget signings (see: Bouna Coundoul), although commentators find it more interesting to comment on the movement of bigger name players.

  8. Based on results so Far:

    Best: Has to be Colorado, KC, RSL, or Chicago. All three have lookes impressive. Every one of the four has stepped up and proven their suspected “weaknesses” are strengths, and are now being dissected further purely for talking material.

    Worst must be: Houston, and, well, Houston. Added nothing. At all. Yes, they are great, but adding NOTHING after their forward core leaves? bad move.

  9. Best:

    Dallas, DC, & RSL – I just really like the roster depth acquired by these three teams. I like their pro-active recruiting & mining of cheap south american talent. Plus all three have a DP spot to spare for a summer acquisition.


    NY & LA. Osorio has barely done a thing to a team that faded down the stretch & wasn’t good enough to win it all. LA has made a non-playoff team even worse by dumping Albright and picking up nothing but rookies & Vanney. Both teams had head-scratching pre-season schedules to boot.

  10. I’m not sure I hammer Columbus all that hard.

    They still need a goal-scorer, but Moffat and Carroll seem (so far) to be an upgrade over Grabavoy and O’Rourke/Oughton. Padula is definitely an upgrade over Pierce/Miglioranzi. Rogers for the full year appears to be an upgrade over Kamara last year.

    O’Rourke shifting to centerback to replace Gonzalez has been… entertaining (I’m trying to be polite). Mostly, though, it’s been to try and upgrade the 1-2 pieces that they didn’t already have someone they wanted long-term.

    Still can’t figure out why Garey’s stapled to the bench, though.

  11. Branc- what are you talking about… i think the fake post by “chris rolfe” was the only fire fan to not add anything to the topic… no different then the MANY RBNJ fans who post under fake names on Red Card… get over yourself

  12. John? TFC has added foreign talent:

    Laurent Robert (French Int), Rohan Ricketts (England Int), Amado Guevara (Honduran Int.), if Ives is right Tebily (Ivory Coast Int). The list will continue my friend….trust me

  13. It’s silly to judge offseasons by how the teams do at this point: you can do a good job acquiring talent and it’s poorly coached. Or you can fumble all your offseason moves but because of a strong foundation still win games. So current status does not accurately reflect offseason actions.

    Best offseasons:

    –KC: they gave up some talent (Garcia, EJ, Burciaga) that was probably not as valuable as what they got for it. They added real talent (Lopez and Trujillo plus picks). They’re well positioned to do very well this year.

    –DC: they just played 5 games in 15 days (with 2 at altitude) and 6 games in 20 days–no-one is going to look good. Time will tell if their talent meshes but I think they had a good offseason–they got the pieces they wanted, complementary ones, added depth.

    –FCD: they realistically lost no-one they weren’t already going to lose (Goodson) or should get rid of (Ruiz, Denilson), kept the key parts, adding good talent (Davino) and are well positioned in the West.

    –Chivas: they kept Guzan (though nothing they did) added depth at striker (which is why they didn’t advance in the playoffs).

    Worst offseasons:

    –Red Bulls: they hired JCO (assume that’s a plus), cleared cap room (that’s a plus–if you use it) and added Echeverry. And that’s it. I’m sure they’ll add talent in August. But that isn’t the offseason. Unless you assume that Arena did a brilliant job with the roster last year, the off-season appears to be incredibly incomplete.

    –San Jose: only SJ fans and people in the tank for Yallop were insisting they had a good expansion draft. Their defense is okay but not great, their midfield (Corrales as a D-mid?) is weak and their attack is nonexistant. And all expansion teams lack depth.

    –LAG: I’m shocked no-one has mentioned them so far in the thread. They went into this season knowing they needed (a) defense and (b) a good D-mid who could win balls. Instead, they’ve got a defensive sieve, still no D-mid and still cap-hosed.

    –Chicago: example of a team playing well that had a poor off-season. Lost Pickens (they didn’t want to) than couldn’t sign their GK draft pick–lucky they had Busch to fall back on. Lost JCO, screwed around picking a replacement (seriously–what an embarassment that was). The positive is adding Frankowski.

    –NE: another example of a team playing well and being successful off of the foundation they had last season. Twellman PNG transfer was poorly handled, some important players left. Team added Albright but not much else. They’re fortunate they added the Gambians last year, have a good coach and the league’s best foundation of key players.

    –Toronto: good draft. But what foreign talent did they add (Guevara was not preseason)? They went into the season knowing they needed striker talent and a creative force in midfield and only traded ROB and then hired Carver. Given clear needs and resources available, I expected far better.

    –Houston: lost a lot of guys in the off-season. Came nowhere close to rebuilding their depth and it’s unclear if the replacements (Caraccio, Boswell, Caig) are worth it. Forget how they’re playing now, they’ll return to form. But without depth (and right now they don’t have it), they have almost no chance of winning the West and probably won’t repeat as champions unless they get healthy and hot in the playoffs.

    –Columbus: going into this season (with GBS already under contract), the one thing they needed (and have needed for 4 years) is a proven finisher. And they still didn’t get one.


    –Colorado: adding C.Gomez is a big deal for them but they failed to deal Mastroeni and still kept Clavijo.

    –RSL: lots of shuffling of the cards but it’s unclear at this point how much REAL talent they added. Maybe a lot, maybe very little. Some of their improvement is just due to Kreis getting organized and getting more distance from the Ellinger fiasco. Judgment of their talent acquisition will take a lot more time.

  14. Fire fans are too preoccupied with what the Red Bulls are doing to provide any real feedback so one would question why they bother posting. Nothing going on over at Red Card?

    Just because the Red Bulls did not add any players before April 15th doesn’t mean that they won’t. I actually like the fact the JCO is taking his time with this team. He wants to make sure he is adding the right pieces to this team.

    The team with the best offseason has been Toronto. Hands down.

    The team with the worst offseason was DC United until proven otherwise.

  15. Mentos- i thought that the fire’s defense was going to be questionable, seeing as we dropped something along the lines of 3-4 defenders… but surprisingly Hamlett apparently knows his team’s limits quite well…. moving Soumare back in the center, picking up Prideaux as a waiver, and having Guit, Segares, Conde, CJ, and Robinson as well, our defense is pretty solid…

    including King into the team will continue to add depth, and bringing in Frankowski and Herron to add depth to the front line…

    only thing i wish he’d do is bring in some wingers… hopefull thinking tho…

    Best: Rapids… and im not basing it on who they brought in and who went out, but rather the fact they went to england and played some quality sides for preseason

    Worst: LA…. not only did they thin their already thinned team, but they paraded all through china just to cash in on Beckham… overall didnt prepare the team at all nor add some MUCH NEEDED depth

  16. Also with that comment on dunord last night about Franchino & Flood at the sox game, It looks like the revs are fitting right in to boston.

  17. I would say considering what they lost during the offseason, NE did the best job to replace those players that made up for the outgoing (john, dorman, screech. With the gambians and albright make up for the losses, and then add castro into the mix I give them an A. There are teams that made bigger splashes, but I think the Revs had to make up a lot of losses.

    The worst would be neck and neck with houston and LA. I would say Houston, because i expect more out of them. With all the key losses I would think they would try to take the NE approach, and I would have expected more out of there coach.

    LA is a disaster, if you sit back and picture their front office and player discussions, I just laugh. So because everyont knows they are idiots, I cant give it to them.

  18. Holden doesn’t even start for us. He along with the promising rookie Cameron that noone has menitoned along with Mulrooney and Ashe make for a pretty solid midfield bench. I bet there are several teams in the league that would love to have that group as a first team lineup. This so called lack of depth is grossly exaggerated.

  19. The best offseason in terms on managing player exits and replacements….the REVS for sure. This team never loses a step. Its kind of sickening really and they probably have some room under the cap to bring in a big player (which they won’t). I also like what RSL, KC, Colorado and Dallas did. RSL and Dallas could be big time teams this year, not convinced of Colorado or KC yet.

    Worst managed offseason has to be LA. Houston still have the core team and need to find some spare parts and have cap room. LA has no wiggle room at all and has some serious issues, even though by beloved TFC were lucky to get three points.

    As for TFC, I’m not convinced about our offseason. Yes we have some household names, but it could implode at anytime and we’ve got to gel with some serious liabilities at certain positions

  20. Best: Toronto. I hate to say it, but if that team can gel, they have tons of talent from top to bottom. Johnston and Carver are working overtime to put together a team with considerable European experience, plus they added Guevara who can be dangerous if his ego doesn’t get in the way. Plus they still Maurice Edu, who always impresses me with smart play. I like what RSL is doing too.

    Worst: Houston. They were a deep team, now they are dangerously thin. You lose players like DeRo, Holden, or Ching and you go from potential champion to out of the playoffs. The drop off in talent, for me, is that drastic.

  21. Id even argue RSL and/or Colorado. Granted its only 3 games into the season but with recent results they are certainly looking better then prior seasons. Looks like a bit more parity in the league…

  22. well, judging by results id say that Revs and (i admit this grudgingly) columbus (i hate columbus, note the small c’s).

    We have yet to see how Torontos acquisitions will do (im sure they will be good), even then i do feel that the three new midfielders were a certain feat.

  23. Best: DC (I still think Gallardo will make that team hum come june)

    Worst: Red Bulls. A mediocre team made no new additions superior to what they lost. They are relying on a CAM (Reyna) that never was one, isn’t one, and never will be one. Conway is one of the weaker keepers in the league. Golthwaithe, Leitch… dear lord, even in the USL these guys would be average at best. No Dema or even Vide like players destrying in the midfield. Magee as the backup CAM — is this a joke? Is this the action of a team that wants to suceed in the NY area as a major league team? For crying out loud, if Bogie is still alive let’s get him out of retirement! :-p

  24. I really thought DC was going to dominate with the people the team picked up in the off season, but like someone else said, they just haven’t come together yet. I wonder what they will look like come July. If the team comes together they will be tough to beat, if they don’t it could have been a wasted off season with too many moves.

  25. What Rob C said.

    Instead of having every player in the world on trial, trial someone and sign the f**ker!! This approach of taking your sweet a$$ time is bulls**t!! It’s quite clear that Osorio is over-thinking. The team SORELY NEEDS HELP!!! Chris Innes should have been signed. Matt Kassel should have been signed! Osorio and company need to s**t or get off the pot!!

  26. I believe by “that defender” you mean Brandon Prideaux who was picked up from Colorado

    in the Waiver Draft. He has added some solid depth. Outside of him and Frankowsi, the fire did more addition by subtraction in a retiring Wanchope and getting someone to trade anything for Jim Curtain (?).

  27. Red Bulls. There is no argument here. Osorio specifically NAMED the spot he wanted to improve, then he didn’t upgrade at any of them. He then CHANGED HIS TARGET LIST.

    Osorio seems almost scared at this point to sign somebody. This team needs help. You can’t keep running rookies out there, ESPECIALLY OUT OF POSITION and expect to win, I don’t care how great of a coach/tactician you think you are. This team’s lack of creativity in the attack was painfully obvious last week. It was a problem that could have been solved, at least somewhat, in the off-season and wasn’t.

    So frustrating.

  28. Best –

    Since recent signings count, KC, TFC and DC. Amado, a great draft, and some key pick ups (no losses really).

    DC is well chronicled – just like last year, the major amount of games, I think, are making em look bad. Lets see what they are like come July.

    And KC is also well chronicled, have a good solid back, added to their top with Lopez and Trujillo, and have made Eddie Johnson a passing memory.

    Worst –

    Crew – no new signings. Nothing spectacular in the draft. but a good young bunch of players who can gel with the leadership they already have there (Schelotto, Moreno, Hejduk)

    Houston – lost alot, gained very little.

  29. RSL or Colorado had the best, and while the worst goes to LA, sorry Red bull fans. But LA gets the nod. I’ve seen a better high school defense then what they got, and no I’m not joking.

  30. I know the Red bulls had the worst of season till this day they are still trying out players to se who will they bring in. Is like this every year. Ten wwe see D.C get all the players they want. Mean while Red bulls cannot even sign a teenager…lol

  31. Houston had/will have always hard workers who will do the job; no key player is needed, they play the same under a coach who has a plan wiht some ocasional brilliance by DeRo or Davis; that’s why they’re the champions.

    I think NE had decent additons for what they lost; Colorado and RSL improved.

    Red Bulls and Chivas stayed the same so they can only improve and LA actually got worse.

  32. I honestly think RBNY had one of the worst. They lost Kovalenko, arguably our second best player when healthy last year. And they added Echeverry (who is likely to win the end-of-the-year prize for Most Poorly Judged Shot Attempts), Borman (master of turnovers), and Sassano (who looks okay, but is no game changer). Their best move was a subtraction (of Waterreus)!

    Best offseason … quite possibly Toronto. Although D.C. and the Revs additions may prove sound. Let’s wait and see.

  33. The more I reflect on the Fire the more I am ok with thier offseason.. i mean the whole coach thing was a mess.. but with so many players hurt last year.. they needed to see what they had. And they did add a good forward in Frankowski, and they picked up that defender who seems to be pretty good.. and then last week guppy was fired.. so all in all very positive!

  34. Houston. Lost Cochrane, Wells, Ngwenya, Jaqua and Dalglish (who didn’t really every do much except for the playoff match). Replacements? Caig for Wells, which to this point has been disappointing; Boswell for Cochrane, which has been more nearly abysmal than anything else. Finally, how long was it known that Houston needed a second striker? Nothing ended up happening until the signing of Caraccio (sp?), which is still a toss up. Wouldn’t it have been good to get another option besides Caraccio, as well? I would submit Houston as having a poor off-season.


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