The transfer window’s final week has gotten quite busy in Major League Soccer – and quite exciting, too.
The week started with out-of-nowhere news that Everton’s Tim Cahill was in bound for Red Bull Arena.
It’s ending with FC Kaiserslautern midfielder Christian Tiffert en route to Seattle. That’s another out-of-nowhere announcement, and a fairly significant one.
He’ll be a Designated Player for Seattle; Alvaro Fernandez has been traded to Chicago to create a DP roster slot opening.
Past Fernandez being the odd man out in Seattle, the significance of Tiffert’s arrival is this: the ante is being slowly, gradually driven up on these DP signings.
Plenty of DPs before Cahill and Tiffert have been quality performers. But most could be conveniently classified into one of three subsets: big names whose careers were in winter; the developing up-and-comers, or; worthy talent from mid-tier leagues who could be had on the relative cheap.
(No, friends from Columbus, I did not miss that Argentine striker Federico Higuain is a man in yellow as of today; he is clearly in that third mentioned subset, a sensible and economical buy. He could become a wonderful pickup.)
Tiffert is no Cahill, easily the summer’s top MLS signing. But like Cahill, Tiffert has been a key cog at a respected club of slightly elevated accomplishment. Both are just beyond of their tippy-top prime, but still quite close to it.
As for their clubs, neither Everton (Cahill) nor Kaiserslautern (Tiffert) can be considered perennial league challengers. On the other hand, these are solid middle class clubs from a couple of the league’s premier associations. Just-relegated Kaiserslautern was a Bundesliga winner only three seasons back.
So Tiffert and Cahill look more like Julian de Guzman in overall acquisition value and potential (never mind that de Guzman never got where we thought he might in Toronto). He was one of the few to arrive in MLS thusly, still of peppy age, still with plenty of soccer to offer, but already dripping with experience at top league level.
Major League Soccer quality just took a click or two forward, and the ability to truly make a splash in DP targeting and acquisition just got a little tougher.