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Five foreign-based players MLS clubs should pursue this winter

The MLS offseason may be in full swing, but the silly season is only just beginning.

The 2020 MLS campaign is quickly approaching, and teams are currently busy courting and adding foreign-based reinforcements in an attempt to strengthen their rosters. Impressive players like Alan Pulido and Lucas Cavallini have already been added to different squads in recent days, but there should be plenty more arrivals in the coming weeks as clubs look abroad for talent to bring over in the new year.

Here are five players MLS clubs should consider making transfer moves for this winter:

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

The Mexican striker has long been linked with a switch to MLS, and now seems like the perfect time for him to make the move. The 31-year-old striker has seen limited action for Sevilla after transferring to the club from West Ham this past summer, making just four starts in nine appearances in La Liga play. He has had some additional looks in the UEFA Europa League, but by and large Hernandez is being used as a reserve right now.

If he wants more minutes to try and get back in the Mexico national team picture and one more handsome payday, heading to MLS can surely help his cause. The level is clearly not as high as it is in Spain, but Hernandez, with his intelligent movement and poaching ability, would be an every-game starter and a face of the franchise on almost any team. The Chicago Fire, for instance, could be a perfect destination as they make their anticipated return to Soldier Field.

Edinson Cavani

Like Hernandez, Cavani is not seeing the field all that much right now in Europe. The Uruguayan forward has four starts in eight league appearances for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, and has fallen behind recent addition Mauro Icardi in the striker pecking order. What’s more, Cavani has just 40 minutes played in the UEFA Champions League, with Icardi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria among the preferred attacking options currently.

A rumored move to Inter Miami seems to be off the table, but other clubs in need of a target man up front could do a lot worse than signing Cavani. Sure, he turns 33 in February, but his combination of size, skill, and experience would make him a deadly force capable of putting up 20-plus goal seasons for each of the next two years. Teams like the LA Galaxy, D.C. United, and Nashville SC should be inquiring about how much it would take.

Olivier Giroud

Another center forward surplus to requirements at his club, Giroud has fallen by the wayside at Chelsea this season as new manager Frank Lampard has ushered in a younger generation. The Frenchman has received sporadic minutes this campaign, with just five Premier League matches under his belt thus far. The well has dried up for him, too, as his lone goal came in the UEFA Super Cup bout against Liverpool back in August.

At 33, Giroud would be a short-term fix for any club. Still, the World Cup winner has the experience, size, strength and finishing abilities to make signing him worth it. Giroud is reportedly open to joining teams in bigger cities like D.C. United or Inter Miami, but the Montreal Impact seem like the more ideal fit given the city’s French influence, the team’s need for an upgrade up top, and the recent arrival of compatriot Thierry Henry as coach.

Mario Balotelli 

The Italian is actually playing significantly more than the aforementioned trio of strikers, recording nine starts in 10 appearances (with three goals) in Serie A thus far. The difference with Balotelli, however, is that he is fighting relegation with lowly Brescia and is reportedly unhappy with how the team is playing. Club owner Massimo Cellino even said recently that Balotelli could go on a free this winter.

Should that truly be the case, sides like the Portland Timbers, Nashville SC, or FC Cincinnati would be wise to consider acquiring him. Yes, Balotelli has had a career littered with controversy, but maybe a move to the United States where he would have a lower profile would suit him. What’s more, he still boasts a game-changing skill set and remains relatively young at 29.

Christian Cueva

The talent is undeniably there, but the Peruvian playmaker has not been able to showcase that at the club level over the past couple of years in large part due to off-the-field issues. Unwanted by his current team Santos in Brazil, Cueva is openly looking for a new home to get settled into this winter. He wants to put his focus back on playing, and MLS could potentially provide him that opportunity.

Orlando City has been linked to him in the past, and that may certainly not be a bad landing spot for the 28-year-old midfielder. D.C. United, Inter Miami, and the Columbus Crew would also be suitable destinations. There are concerns about his professionalism, but given his age and talent, the risk could be worth the reward.


  1. I’m disappointed that SBI couldn’t come up with a better list than this group of over aged has beens and a couple of trouble makers. How about some up and coming young stars in South America instead?

  2. Chicharito is a has been who can only score with great service. No need to spend the ridiculous $$$ he will ask for. He will be another MLS Mexican reject like Luis Hernandez.

  3. I think Modrić, Pjanic, David Silva, Thomas Müller, or and this a stretch Christian Eriksen would make a bigger impact! All would raise the level of play for a club and have bigger added value to quality and style to MLS.
    All this target forwards would be so frustrated with how physical center backs are allowed to play through the back of a player.

  4. Sounders, 2019 MLS winners, pass.
    Chicago needs a replacement for Schwiney, and LA never really got around to replacing the shirt selling English players. These might be good replacements and it wouldn’t be too tough to be a lot better than Gerrard.

  5. Chicharito is useless outside of the box; cannot dribble or help with the build up. He is a pure goal scorer from the old days when all you had to do was be a Johnny on the spot type and pop up in the right positions to tap in goals.

    He will not succeed because MLS is athletically on par with EPL, but 2 levels down tactically, however his tactical advantage won’t help him much because MLS defenders are very quick and strong in the box.

    Only players who are skilled and useful outside of the box will succeed in MLS. e.g, Ruidiaz,Cavani, Vela

  6. Chicharito would be smart for the MLS. Would help any team and I imagine would play really well since MLS isn’t a top league.

  7. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has been riding the bench every team he went since he left Man U years ago. Definitely no longer the Chicharito of the heyday once Man U scoring machine in his debut season, he still possesses the reputation among hispanic fans and can surely sell jerseys & fill up a MLS stadium. I wouldn’t buy a ticket just to see him today.

    • Most Hispanics hate him and can’t that him. Don’t confuse mexicans with the rest of Hispanics. I am Hispanic, and I can’t stand him because how media push him. Bring a “real hispanic star” like Aguero, Sanchez, James or Suarez

      Note: most Hispanics support the USNT vs the Tri.

    • “Love, love, love” from the group that hate and want MLS to fail, while isolate the groups that support soccer in this country.


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