Grading the graders: who were tops in MLS offseason moves?

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It’s still a bit early to grade out Major League Soccer’s offseason. Unlike many leagues around the world, January doesn’t bring the end of Major League Soccer’s primary transfer window; MLS clubs may sign foreign players into May.

Still, as preseason camps are well under way, most of the “players in” and the “players out” movement is done for MLS  teams. And the ranking of how they did in offseason roster enhancement are starting to fall.

MLSSoccer.com did the chores here, and it’s difficult to quarrel with their top pick for offseason achievement. Toronto’s splashy signings ruled the day as Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley arrived in the big Tim Leiweke swoop.

There might be a little squabbling after that, however, as the list has Philadelphia second and D.C. United third (followed by Portland and the LA Galaxy). John Hackworth’s Philadelphia Union certainly helped itself, mostly on that hard-fought Maurice Edu deal. But did D.C. United deserve just a little more credit?

In my mind, United’s moves put the RFK bunch at No. 2 based on two elements. The players Ben Olsen and Co. signed are known quantities around MLS. Sean Franklin and Jeff Parke will help stabilize the back line. Eddie Johnson (assuming D.C. United gets him signed, which doesn’t seem certain just now) and Fabian Espindola will help fill the desperate need for goal scoring.

No, Espindola didn’t exactly tear it up at Red Bull Arena last year. But playing alongside talented-but-demanding Thierry Henry can’t be easy.

United also did well in ridding itself of (relatively) big money going out to Dwayne DeRosario and Dejan Jakovic. Plus, Olsen’s club did well in the draft.

Again, it’s a little quibble (United ahead of Philly), but one worth quibbling about.