MLS Western Conference roster construct standing | Armchair Analyst

As it is the foolish season, it is thus an acceptable time to have a look via each team’s present roster construct state of affairs and depth chart. The Japanese Conference model of this column was revealed on Wednesday. Under is the West.

Each can be periodically up to date all through the remainder of the offseason.

In we go…

Austin FC

The Offseason So Far: Busy, clearly. Claudio Reyna & Co. are placing collectively the team’s debut season roster, and whereas there have been some missteps — Houston pilfering Joe Corona from them is hilarious, and I am not a big Danny Hoesen man — there’s extra to be excited about than not.

That pleasure begins with Alex Ring at d-mid, strikes to a backline containing a pleasant mixture of MLS expertise and high-upside newcomers. It continues as much as the wings the place, once more, there is a good mixture of MLS veterans and high-upside youngsters, as well because the thus-far solely DP on the roster in Paraguay international Cecilio Dominguez.

There’s nonetheless work to be performed, and a few of these strikes will not work out. No one bats a thousand of their growth season. However I like this basis.

What’s Subsequent: One half missing from the muse so far is a transparent starter because the No. 10, or maybe as extra of a twin No. 8 together with top general SuperDraft choose Daniel Pereira. I am assuming that manager Josh Wolff, who spent greater than half a decade as Gregg Berhalter’s right-hand man, has related concepts concerning the recreation and is constructing a team that may play in a approach considerably paying homage to Berhalter’s US males’s national team.

That would partially clarify the decision to take Pereira over Philip Mayaka with that No. 1 choose. Pereira’s extra suited as a sophisticated midfielder — suppose the position Sebastian Lletget performs for the USMNT — in the kind of 4-3-3 that we have seen from the US over the past two years. Mayaka could be extra just like the position Artur played under Berhalter & Wolff in Columbus.

Anyway, if Pereira is penciled in as a starter in a type of spots, proper now the opposite identify could be Diego Fagundez, who signed as a free agent. However Austin have additionally been strongly linked (as in, it’d occur earlier than we hit “publish” on this column) to 25-year-old Argentine central midfielder Tomas Pochettino, who’s put himself within the store window because of a superb past couple of months with Talleres.

After that is taken care of they’re going to want to seek out some depth behind Ring, who’s the one defensive midfielder on the roster. They will additionally have to determine out if Hoesen really is the man to steer the road.

EDIT: Austin signed veteran free agent center forward Aaron Schoenfeld this morning. Good depth piece.

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Colorado Rapids

The Offseason So Far: Solely two incoming strikes, however they have been big ones: veteran winger Michael Barrios from FC Dallas for peanuts, and then Mayaka — the consensus best talent within the draft — fell into their laps at No. 3. Each of these guys may have the chance to win beginning jobs, and Mayaka must be both a long-term piece of their core, or the kind of player they will promote for tens of millions inside just a few years.

Going outbound there hasn’t been a lot, because the Rapids declined choices on just a few end-of-the-roster players.

What’s Subsequent: Cole Bassett remains to be round, and with no U-20s this year and, apparently, his failure to crack the rotation for the U-23s, it feels much less like he will be sold in 2021. If it was in any other case then perhaps I might say “focus on a box-arriving, goalscoring midfield addition,” however that is not the way in which the wind seems to be blowing.

Diego Rubio and Andre Shinyashiki are nonetheless round, and that is the extent of Colorado’s depth chart at center forward, so I might argue that must be subsequent. However the Rapids are, based on stories and whispers from across the league, fairly content material with that duo. 

So I might argue that what comes subsequent might be a left back. Sam Vines goes to be hella busy all year and is the kind of talent that appears destined for a top-five European league. Proper now the one identify I’ve bought behind him on the depth chart is veteran proper back Steven Beitashour. That is not sufficient.

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FC Dallas

The Offseason So Far: Actually, really, REALLY busy. They sold their beginning proper back for practically $10 million to a Champions League membership, and declined the choice on one among their long-time pillars in central defense. They traded the man who’d been their beginning proper winger for greater than half a decade, and declined the choice on a DP. They, as standard, lent out an academy child to Bayern Munich.

In have come at the very least two doubtless new starters: proper winger Jader Obrian from the Colombian top flight, and veteran center back Jose Antonio Martinez, a Spaniard with practically 100 appearances in Spain’s top two divisions. Additionally they took a flier on a pair of young attackers, one overseas (Venezuelan winger Freddy Vargas) and one domestic (former Union homegrown Kalil ElMedkhar).

If Paxton Pomykal comes back wholesome, then he mainly counts as a new offseason addition as well, and would change the character of the beginning lineup. However well being is a massive “if” at this point in Pomykal’s career and should not be assumed.

What’s Subsequent: All the above means the standard factor, which is that Dallas’s roster is totally stuffed and it’s going to be the play of the fellows on the top-end — the DPs — who decide if the team makes a playoff look or makes a playoff run. Neither of the DPs, center forward Franco Jara and central midfielder Bryan Acosta, impressed last year, and each should struggle the children for a beginning position.

The players they’re going to be combating with are all doubtless already on the roster, and because it stands the one actual query is how they replace Bryan Reynolds at proper back. I believe there is a chance that Ryan Hollingshead, the league’s best left back, flips sides and John Nelson turns into the beginning left back. I additionally suppose it is potential that Hollingshead stays the place he’s and Homegrown Eddie Munjoma will get the primary crack at changing Reynolds, or maybe transformed winger Ema Twumasi will get slotted in.

There could possibly be one other DP becoming a member of their ranks, although. Experiences have Uruguayan winger Carlos de Pena on the way in which to Frisco from Dynamo Kiev. If he is signed, slide him into the XI at left wing.

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Houston Dynamo FC

The Offseason So Far: One other really busy team out there within the West, Houston have largely flown under the radar with their acquisitions. However additionally they made headlines after they lastly sold Mauro Manotas, getting $4 million from their star center forward from Club Tijuana. Manotas’s alternative was doubtless already on the roster, although they did for good measure flip veteran center back Kiki Struna for veteran center forward Maxi Urruti in a commerce with CF Montreal.

Working inside the league like that has been their M.O. this winter. They pilfered Corona from Austin (once more: this was HILARIOUS and a worthy first shot within the Texas Triangle Derby), threw money at RBNY for Tim Parker, then did the identical with Dallas for veteran winger Fafa Picault and with Nashville for central midfielder Derrick Jones.

All of these guys have proven the flexibility to carry out someplace on the size from “okay” to “really fairly good” in MLS, and including extra guys in that vary is a reasonably good thought for a team that is struggled fairly badly for a lot of the past eight years.

I additionally thought they have been intelligent within the draft in buying and selling down for allocation money, however nonetheless ending up with the consensus best center back on the board in Era adidas signee Ethan Bartlow. Between him and Parker, a obtrusive want from last year has been addressed.

What’s Subsequent: I genuinely do not suppose something is subsequent until one thing falls of their laps. And whereas no one’s going to foretell titles for this team, I really do like their offseason — they bought higher and youthful virtually all over the place and even began signing some extra Homegrowns. This team feels prefer it’s lastly constructing an id and a tradition.

This is the catch: they’ve zero DPs. It is hard to win with out DPs on this league, and all people noticed the massive drop-off last year as soon as they sold Alberth Elis.

So whereas I like numerous what they did this winter, and the construction is best general, I am unsure it’s going to matter that a lot within the standings if they do not have match-winners. If it turns out they do not, then that is job No. 1 in the summertime window.

EDIT: So in between the time I wrote that blurb and we hit “publish,” stories of former RSL center back Carlos Salcedo moving from Tigres to the Dynamo have surfaced. Salcedo and Parker, collectively, would characterize one of many best center back combos within the league.

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The Offseason So Far: I believe, if not for the pandemic, this might’ve been the offseason throughout which LAFC form of burst onto the worldwide scene as a promoting membership. There’s been vital interest within the likes of Diego Rossi, Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing and Eddie Segura, and if budgets hadn’t been destroyed by COVID-19, it is a truthful bet that a number of of these guys would’ve been sold.

However that is not the way in which issues are. LAFC have as an alternative stored their young core virtually totally intact, with solely Younger DP winger Brian Rodriguez — a probable backup in 2021 because the roster stands — heading out on loan (with an possibility to purchase) to UD Almeria in Spain.

Sure, meaning LAFC have an open DP slot. They have not performed something with it but, and there aren’t even any rumors percolating. But.

Extra importantly, they introduced on-loan center back Jesus David Murillo back completely, added Marco Farfan as depth behind Diego Palacios, introduced in Corey Baird as depth all throughout the entrance line and added their presumptive beginning proper back in Kim Moon-Hwan. Raheem Edwards (as but unsigned) was added within the Re-Entry Draft.

Additionally they let Bradley Wright-Phillips stroll in free company, which is what leads me to consider that Rodriguez’s DP slot is being stored open for a center forward signing.

What’s Subsequent: Center forward is the plain spot to improve. Danny Musovski and Baird have each been helpful there, however neither’s the kind of No. 9 most title-winning teams have. I expect LAFC to go big with this one, although it may not occur till the subsequent window.

The identical could possibly be said for the goalkeeper corps. Kenneth Vermeer is an journey, as is Pablo Sisniega, whereas Tomas Romero could be very young. There may be not a clear-cut No. 1 amongst them, although I might see LAFC’s braintrust holding off on any actual decision about that till the summer season.

So my guess is that LAFC’s performed looking for this window, save for signing Edwards and their second- and third-round draft picks (a center back and a midfielder). Do not be stunned if they come with the thunder this summer season.

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LA Galaxy

The Offseason So Far: They bought their man in new head coach Greg Vanney. It appeared apparent, as soon as he stepped down as head coach and technical director at Toronto FC, that he was headed for the same position in Carson after the Galaxy had dismissed Guillermo Barros Schelotto. It took some time, however it did lastly occur.

What’s additionally occurred has been a big exodus of largely disappointing players from the past few years, as well as a gradual trickle of new signings. The 2 most essential are Jorge Villafana, acquired from Portland for allocation money and actually the new beginning left back, and goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, a veteran of the English Championship and League One.

Cristian Pavon can also be technically, as of this writing, gone. However word that Vanney has spoken of Pavon over the past month as if the Argentine DP is in his plans.

What’s Subsequent: Discovering a option to get Pavon back to Carson on a everlasting foundation, I might think about. He has been electrical.

After that it is a query of figuring out the backline — they want at the very least one starting-caliber center back — and then central midfield. Jonathan dos Santos missed mainly all of last year and is now in his 30s; how a lot gasoline does he have left? Would it not be as a No. 6 or a No. 8? Ought to Sebastian Lletget move deeper to play as an 8 (or an 8.5, which is his USMNT position) and bring in a real No. 10 for a 4-2-3-1? Ought to Efrain Alvarez play there, or play in any respect? Do they want a real ball-winner it doesn’t matter what?

Then there’s the truth that even when Pavon comes back, there aren’t sufficient wingers on this roster. The excellent news for Galaxy followers is that our own Tom Bogert has reported that the Galaxy are concerned with Austrian international winger Husein Balic. Nothing is finished but, however Balic has the profile of an MLS starter.

So does Julian Araujo, however there is not any depth behind him. And — here is the big one — neither Chicharito nor his backup, Ethan Zubak, appeared like MLS-caliber center forwards last year.

Vanney’s bought his fingers full.

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Minnesota United FC

The Offseason So Far: At this point within the offseason, it is truthful to say that Minnesota bought worse. Kevin Molino signed elsewhere in free company and Ozzie Alonso remains to be out there as well, maybe searching for a new home. There may be nonetheless no answer at center forward, and that does not just go for the beginning No. 9 — a lot of the depth has been purged, as well.

However I do not suppose there’s any trigger for fear. The Loons at all times crush it within the SuperDraft and I think they did so once more in 2021, by buying and selling as much as get winger Justin McMaster and center back Nabi Kibunguchy. Each have the profile of fellows who will on the very least be contributors. The identical may also be said of center back Callum Montgomery, a former top-five choose who by no means broke via with Dallas and who Minnesota bought for a track. Shrewd move.

Signing Wil Trapp as a free agent is a little bit of Ozzie insurance coverage, whereas buying and selling for Jukka Raitala provides wanted depth on the backline.

What’s Subsequent: Signing Ozzie must be subsequent, and then perhaps discovering a loan for Thomas Chacon, who appears unlikely to break via into any form of regular position for Minnesota. Airlocking Chacon would necessitate at the very least one addition in attack, in all probability a veteran who can play some on the wing and some as a No. 10. There aren’t too many players becoming that profile out there, however there’s not none.

All of it pales compared to the No. 9 state of affairs. When Minnesota followers learn “what’s subsequent” up there they said, as one, “a DP center forward!!!”

I’ve been attempting to talk Santos Borre into existence for you guys for 4 months now. I am going to do it once more right here: Santos Borre, who’s out of contract in the summertime, is the right answer for the Loons.

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Portland Timbers

The Offseason So Far: Whenever you’re fairly sure you are championship-caliber so long as you are at full well being, you may as well run it back for yet another year. And that is what the Timbers have determined to do, although with the additional advantage of some potential upgrades at each fullback slots.

That is the place they’ve concentrated their efforts this winter, as they shipped out Jorge Villafana, Marco Farfan and Chris Duvall, and shipped in Claudio Bravo (the new presumptive starter at LB) and Josecarlos Van Rankin (the new presumptive starter at RB) to remake the fullback depth chart.

Additionally they trimmed some depth pieces in central defense and midfield, and introduced back forward Felipe Mora on a everlasting foundation.

What’s Subsequent: Bravo is the one LB on the roster, so it stands to reason that there can be one other addition at that spot, although not a starter. There can be one other addition at central defense as well, although not a starter. And maybe one other in central midfield, although — say it with me now — not a starter.

Portland have already made their largest strikes. Their offseason is generally performed.

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Real Salt Lake

The Offseason So Far: Clearly no team is in additional flux than Real Salt Lake, who’re within the midst of an possession change and cultural reboot. Coping with the roster seems like just a small a part of that.

Nonetheless, Kyle Beckerman’s retirement is not any small factor even when he wasn’t, in 2020, the player he’d been even two years earlier. That may be a massive void to fill within the locker room, one compounded by the retirement and departure of center back Nedum Onuoha. Clearly Onuoha is not the cultural icon in Utah that Beckerman is, however he was a leader last summer season throughout arguably essentially the most troublesome time within the membership’s history.

They traded Corey Baird for allocation money, and Baird represents a bigger void to fill on the pitch. The remainder of the departures have been fringe guys and, disappointingly, a few Homegrown attackers (Luis Arriaga and Julian Vazquez) who, for some reason, by no means developed.

Extra Homegrowns are inbound, as is Era adidas proper back/central midfielder Bret Halsey, whom RSL chosen seventh general. Additionally they signed at the very least one former USMNT forward: Rubio Rubin from San Diego of the USL Championship, and presumably Bobby Wooden, who reportedly will not arrive in Utah till this summer season after his contract in Germany runs down.

What’s Subsequent: At the very least one center back — perhaps two? — and maybe nothing else. RSL truly do have a ton of depth all over the place however in the course of the backline, and a lot of that depth is confirmed.

The difficulty, in fact, is the top-end talent. Albert Rusnak took a massive step back last year, and Damir Kreilach is getting up there in age. Rubin, for all his potential as a teenager, is now a 24-year-old journeyman who’s by no means put the ball within the net regularly outside of the USL. Younger DP Jeizon Ramirez barely played last year, and after placing up 13g/7a in 2017, Justin Meram has put up 9g/7a whole throughout the next three years.

Anyway, that is all for a distinct column. What I am saying is that this: I do not suppose any big strikes are coming this winter for RSL.

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San Jose Earthquakes

The Offseason So Far: Some big numbers got here off the Quakes’ books, as DP winger Vako and veteran center back Guram Kashia noticed their contracts run down and not get renewed. Additionally they traded Nick Lima to Austin for a very good chunk of money, then had the great fortune of getting Austin select Danny Hoesen within the Growth Draft, which meant San Jose bought $50k value of allocation money for a player they weren’t going to be bringing back anyway.

Up to now they’ve made just one vital move with all that cap area, all that money and two open DP slots: signing Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez on loan from Chivas. So they bought their No. 10 (they hope), and sure, it is yet one more player who beforehand played for Matias Almeyda.

Additionally they stayed native with the SuperDraft, taking Cal center forward Tommy Williamson (who by no means met a shot he did not like, and IMO that is a very good factor in a young forward) twelfth general. Possibly they’re going to get fortunate and he’ll turn into the subsequent Wondo.

What’s Subsequent: I am unsure something is subsequent, although I might argue they may use a BIG center back and some central midfield depth. Their set-piece defense was catastrophic last season, to the point {that a} personnel improve may be required, and in the course of the pitch they’re one Judson injury away from a disaster.

Now, they’ve spoken glowingly about second-round SuperDraft choose George Asomani, a Ghanaian wrecking ball of a No. 6 who did excellent work for NC State over the past couple of years. However “replace Judson” is numerous ask of any draft choose.

That might be a fantastic story if that is the way it works out, although.

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Seattle Sounders

The Offseason So Far: So yeah, Jordan Morris is gone. It is not “formally gone for good” time, however my cash is on him doing well sufficient with Swansea City to earn a everlasting move to the EPL, both by serving to the Swans to promotion or by catching the attention of one of many different EPL teams. It is extremely doubtless the end of an period.

It is not just Morris who’s gone, although. Additionally out this offseason:

  • Joevin Jones
  • Gustav Svensson
  • Kelvin Leerdam
  • Roman Torres

Jones began in MLS Cup. Svensson and Leerdam ought to have began. Torres got here back late within the season for one last hurrah as defensive depth and did not play a lot, however his everlasting departure remains to be significant.

The one inbound player so far is veteran utility-man and Seattle native Kelyn Rowe. They have been additionally in a position to hold Joao Paulo after hitting the proper quantity to get him completely from Botafogo.

What’s Subsequent: Relying upon what you concentrate on the state of affairs on the wings (we’ll get there in a second), there are both three or 4 obtrusive wants: proper back, center back depth, and both one or two starting-caliber wingers.

I did not write “a beginning proper back” as a result of perhaps Alex Roldan can present he is bought what it takes at that spot? He was greater than just serviceable there in 2020, the primary year he is ever played as a fullback at any level, and… I imply, stranger issues have occurred. However I do suppose it is extra doubtless than not that Seattle go out and get an apparent starter there and Roldan turns into depth.

I went with “depth” at center back slightly than going out and getting a clear-cut starter even supposing it’s cheap to ask if both Shane O’Neill or Xavier Arreaga are starting-caliber CBs for a high-level MLS team. May they discover an improve to companion with Yeimar Gomez Andrade? Probably.

As for the wings, it is apparent they want at the very least one starter inbound in order to replace Morris. The query is whether or not they’ll want a second, as Cristian Roldan appears more likely to go back to central midfield and Homegrowns Shandon Hopeau, Ethan Dobbelaere and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez have not really been convincing on their journey towards the primary team.

With all this occurring (or not), bear this in thoughts: Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey hates to make big strikes through the winter window. So there is a chance Rowe is the one new signing and Lagerwey just rides it out till summer season.

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Sporting Kansas City

The Offseason So Far: One other perennially aggressive Western Conference team, and one other drastic makeover. Gone for good is former captain and Defender of the 12 months Matt Besler. Gone for now (and maybe for good) are former DPs Felipe Gutierrez and Gerso, as well as super-sub Erik Hurtado. Center back Winston Reid, who began in last year’s playoff run, was additionally proven the door.

There have been two vital additions in central midfielder Remi Walter (Peter Vermes has advised he’ll be enjoying primarily at defensive midfield) and center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. Each guys look good on paper and Wyscout, however there’s been greater than the standard amount of purchaser’s regret in the case of high-priced imports for Sporting.

Gadi Kinda, in fact, was not a part of that. The Israeli No. 10 was some of the productive attacking midfielders within the league last year, and Sporting introduced him back completely this winter.

What’s Subsequent: I am positive their focus is on the entrance three. Their starters, left-to-right, are more than likely Khiry Shelton, Alan Pulido and Johnny Russell, and whereas on their day they will make an distinctive triumvirate, 1) none has ever been, at any point of their careers, a scientific finisher, and 2) the depth chart behind them is sketchy.

Among the many wingers, Daniel Salloi bought cursed by the soccer gods for that no-look goal within the 2018 playoffs and hasn’t been the identical since, whereas Homegrown 18-year-old Tyler Freeman might be a year away and Homegrown Grayson Barber was just signed out of school.

Shelton is Pulido’s backup at center forward. Behind them is Homegrown Wilson Harris, who’s been tremendous productive on a per-90 foundation within the USL Championship, however unproven past that.

Sporting have a DP slot open, so they may make a move. I am unsure it’s going to be a DP-sized move, however I do expect them to do one thing about that entrance three.

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The Offseason So Far: They have been transferring slowly, largely trimming the perimeters of the roster. The one regular contributor from 2020 who seems like he is not coming back in 2021 is veteran center forward Fredy Montero — an comprehensible decision on condition that’s an space of depth for the ‘Caps.

One of many causes it is an space of depth is the arrival of first-round SuperDraft choose David Egbo, who went ninth general. Egbo’s not anticipated to play a ton in 2021, however he’ll be helpful when Lucas Cavallini and Tosaint Ricketts are on international obligation with Canada.

Deiber Caicedo is, at this point, the one different official arrival, and he is anticipated to play a ton. The 20-year-old Colombian youth international already has round 4000 first-team minutes, which implies he is not purely a young prospect: he is bought to contribute.

They really need not make another signings. Apart from one.

What’s Subsequent: Vancouver want their own Lucas Zelarayan or Bebelo Reynoso. This team is dying for a DP No. 10, and they’ve been linked to each Porto’s Otavio and Benfica’s Chiquinho. Signal both a type of guys and this offseason’s a success.

That said, they’d nonetheless be a little bit mild on the wings. Caicedo should not be the one incoming winger, and I doubt he can be.

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