A look at some under-the-radar MLS offseason moves

Written By Harrison Hamm on January 14, 2021

The MLS transfer mill has been fairly quiet in recent days, but there have been plenty of rumors, and multiple teams have a lot of spots to fill. There’s plenty to come in the next month or so.

For now, let’s take a look at the moves that have been made so far and spotlight the ones that could have an impact on teams and playoff races.

FC Dallas add winger and center back

FCD trudged along in 2020 at a fairly mediocre level. With Paxton Pomykal returning from injury and young players growing, they should have higher hopes for 2021. In an effort to become more of a contender, they brought in two players that could turn into high-end starters. Center back Jose Antonio Martinez is a La Liga veteran who will replace Reto Ziegler next to Matt Hedges, and 25-year-old attacker Jader Obrian has a history of scoring goals, which would be a great asset from the wing.

Dallas have had a tough time in recent years hitting on their overseas acquisitions. Had it not been for the success of their established veterans and academy products, they may not have even made the playoffs the last couple of years, much less threaten the Sounders two years in a row. The latest Homegrown who has made waves is 17-year-old winger Dante Sealy, who made five brief sub appearances last year. Sealy is among the FCD young players who are training with Bayern Munich during the offseason.

If Martinez and Obrian are quality starters, Dallas has a chance to be more than a middle-of-the-road Western Conference team.

Minnesota United sign Wil Trapp

After a breakout season, Minnesota have been fairly quiet this offseason. Their only two moves (at least as recorded by MLS) are trading for depth defender Callum Montgomery from FCD and signing free agent defensive midfielder Wil Trapp, the longtime Columbus Crew player who was with Inter Miami last year. They also saw Kevin Molino depart for Columbus, a significant loss that they will have to replace.

Trapp, though, makes a good amount of sense for the Loons. Ozzie Alonso’s contract expired at the end of 2020, so Minnesota might have an opening next to Jan Gregus at the base of their midfield. Trapp is a good passer and distributor who can be exploited defensively if he doesn’t have a quality ball-stopper next to him. Gregus can be that guy, and with Hassani Dotson, Minnesota has important depth in that spot. Trapp can eat minutes and spray the ball around the field.

Sporting KC bring in d-mid from Nice

SKC remains a veteran team that relies on veterans at most of their positions. They were able to bring in 25-year-old midfielder Remi Walter in December as insurance for longtime midfielder Roger Espinoza, whom they recently brought back.

Walter, who played for Nice in Ligue 1 from 2016-20, was most recently playing in Turkey, and arrives at Sporting on a free transfer. He’s still just 25 and doesn’t represent a huge investment for SKC, so it makes a lot of sense to bring him in as a flier who could help them keep up contention as certain players age.

Rapids trade for Michael Barrios

After a quiet offseason, the Colorado Rapids made noise on Wednesday with a trade for FC Dallas winger Michael Barrios, a 29-year-old who had been with Dallas since 2015. The value looks great for the Rapids, as they only gave away an international roster spot and a SuperDraft pick swap, dealing the 15th pick for the 21st pick.

Barrios, after putting up a goal and five assists in 2020, isn’t a superstar, but he is a consistently productive MLS attacker who should benefit from a change in scenery. He scored five goals and 15 assists in 2019 and was a core part of FCD’s best middle-of-the-decade teams, including the one that won the Supporters’ Shield in 2016.

Colorado will likely move Younes Namli into the midfield to accommodate Barrios, with Jonathan Lewis occupying the other wing spot. They have plenty of depth in attack, with Nico Benezet, Andre Shinyashiki, and Braian Galvan capable of taking minutes. That will be valuable in a season likely to be marred by Covid-19 again.

The job isn’t done for the Rapids, as they still lack top-end talent (a striker would make a lot of sense), but they seem to be assembling a solid playoff team.

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