If a lion’s share of the fun each MLS offseason is after the maneuvers of MLS clubs, then this winter was a hoot-and-a-half for nearly everyone.
Each and every year, it only gets harder to narrow down the area of candidates for the Newcomer of the Year award. Clubs keep drawing better players out of abroad and several of them at a younger age. This offseason continued that trend, and the 2020 haul has forced us to pile the best incoming transports.
Before we begin with the countdown, let us clarify a few parameters. We have only included players who have arrived during the offseason, which means no Franco Jara, who’s already set to join FC Dallas this summer. We are also only considering authentic newcomers, so men like D.C. United winger Yamil Asad, who formerly shined in MLS, were not qualified for the list. It’s also worth noting that as MLS teams attract better talent in larger numbers, we easily might have summed up a top 25 and would have agonized over leaving a small number of names from the list.
Because of the sheer volume of winter pick-ups, the honorable mentions could fill half a school bus: Oswaldo Alanis, Luis Amarilla, Robert Beric, Adam Buksa, Alexander Buttner, Yimmi Chara, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Yuya Kubo, Jurgen Locadia, Randall Leal, Christian Makoun, Felipe Mora, Hany Mukhtar, Younes Namli, Matej Oravec, Tom Pettersson, Pablo Piatti, Steeven Saba, Vito Wormgoor and Lucas Zelarayan.
No. 10: Kenneth Vermeer
When it came time for LAFC to discover a new goalkeeper, it was important that they grab somebody who can stop opponents’ counterattack. As a top-shelf shot-stopper who is quick off his line, Vermeer matches those requirements. He’s also great at sending his team ahead from the back. The Dutchman will not be the best at controlling crosses, but how often will the Supporters’ Shield holders be pinned in their own end?
No. 9: Lucas Cavallini
Vancouver’s new striker could land a bit higher on the list if they had more quality in the playmaking stable. Even without recognized stars in the Caps’ No. 10 and wing slots, anticipate Cavallini to win them some games. He is tough as nails in a bunch, races supporting defense and can score with either his or her mind.
No. 8: Dario Zuparic
Portland’s fundamental defense needed an intelligent tackler to compliment Larrys Mabiala, and they certainly got it in Zuparic. The 27-year-old, who obtained advanced schooling in the dark arts during four seasons in Italy, is a shutdown artist. He is speedy, takes excellent angles to the ball and generally dispossesses without fouling. He is also pretty smooth working from the back and strikes an average long ball to flank runners (hello, Yimmi!).
No. 7: Alan Pulido
Much like with Mexico teammate Marco Fabian at Philadelphia last year, I am not quite as high on Sporting Kansas City’s new DP forwards as many are. However, if he keeps things going on the way into the area (he should) and luggage 12-15 goals (he surely could), many fans will likely be happy enough with his gifts.
No. 6: Thiago Santos
Any FC Dallas supporter who wished to get a multi-tool defensive midfielder in the end of last season has seen their prayers answered. Thiago Santos is a speedy veteran who acts as a foreboding presence and begins adjustments once he’s regained ownership. He loves to jump into passing lanes and face dribblers before strikes get deep into his conclusion, which should embolden FCD’s counterattack skills.
No. 5: Edison Flores
To get a D.C. United side that lost Wayne Rooney, Lucho Acosta and now Paul Arriola (ACL injury) during one offseason, there may be no greater pick-up than a deadly attacker with a range of skills. Input Flores, that will create crime in a vast array of ways. The Peru celebrity is a hard-charging winger with an uncanny knack for finding the soft spots around the region. Better still, he is just entering his prime.
No. 4: Antonio Carlos
I have good news for Orlando City lovers: Your staff has successfully fulfilled their biggest need by landing a slick centre back that can arrange the backline. The 26-year-old is an individual stop sign that is equally adept in the atmosphere and cleanly copes with ball-carriers. And he is Brazilian, so you know he is supremely comfortable with the ball at his feet. Antonio Carlos will not just halt another team’s rushes, he will also start them to your side.
No. 3: Joao Paulo
Some gamers wow you with skill, but some impress to how their functionality transform a team for the better. Joao Paulo will tick both boxes for Seattle. Yes, the 28-year-old is excellent at protecting the backline, a fiery competitor and a leader. What really sets him apart, however, is the wildly clever ways he can turn defense into attack. His deep-lying passing game should reduce Nico Lodeiro’s workload, allowing the Sounders playmaker to concentrate more on unlocking the opponent’s defense.
No. 2: Rodolfo Pizarro
It doesn’t matter if Inter Miami positions the Mexico ace underneath the striker or outside on the right-wing. Whichever channel he mans, Pizarro will create loads of crime, and frequently in a trendy manner befitting Diego Alonso’s team. He can make any defender seem ridiculous on the dribble, pick any pass out needed or simply finish plays himself.
No. 1: Javier Hernandez
How can you fulfill the god-sized, lion-shaped void left by leaving superstar Zlatan? It seems funny, but a”Small Pea” is just about doing the trick. Right off the top, Chicharito will fill seats, sell shirts and draw attention to the LA Galaxy from the entertainment capital of the world (no small accomplishment ). Most of all, with assistance from Cristian Pavon, Aleksandar Katai, Sebastian Lletget and friends, he is a wonderful bet to transcend the 20-goal mark. What is more, he will do it at a system-friendly fashion, unsettling defenses for his teammates.