With a pair of expansion teams, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, set to debut in 2017, the next three months will be full of trades, signings and draft after draft after draft involving all of the league’s 22 teams.
A handful of notable names found new homes during a three-hour trade window Sunday morning, hours after the Sounders lifted MLS Cup at BMO Field in Toronto — long before the new champions had even arrived back in the Emerald City to a hero’s welcome. The rundown…
GK Sean Johnson was traded from the Chicago Fire, to Atlanta
Johnson was then traded from Atlanta, to New York City FC
DF Michael Parkhurst was traded from Columbus Crew SC, to Atlanta
FW Romario Williams was traded from Montreal Impact, to Atlanta
MF Harrison Heath was traded from Orlando City SC, to Atlanta
The double-trade of Johnson is reportedly a byproduct of Atlanta closing in on the signing of U.S. national team and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who is increasingly expected to make his way to MLS in January. The deal for Johnson was reportedly agreed earlier this week with every intention of Johnson suiting up for his hometown team next season, presumably prior to a deal for Guzan progressing nearer to completion.
As for the rest of the week, the expansion draft is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, at which point Atlanta and Minnesota will each select five unprotected players from the existing 20 teams’ rosters as they continue filling out their own squads ahead of First Kick in March. Lists of protected players are expected to be announced on Monday. Players can then once again be traded upon completion of the expansion draft. Shortly after the expansion draft, free agents can begin negotiating with all 22 teams.
The waiver draft and the re-entry draft (stage 1) will take place on Thursday and Friday, respectively, with lists of players eligibile for each roster-building mechanism scheduled to be released the day beforehand.
Stay tuned over the coming days, weeks and months, for many familiar faces will change teams this winter, and rosters will look wildly different when the 2017 season kicks off in three short months.
Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.
Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).
Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).
While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.
Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:
The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.
“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”
Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.
Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.
Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.
As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it ispeak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:
“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.
“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”
But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:
Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.
Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.
Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.
In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).