Already this offseason, we’ve seen a handful of MLS trades. Most notably, Atlanta United traded Ohio native Darlington Nagbe to the Columbus Crew, where he will reunite with his college coach. The Philadelphia Union received $300,000 in General Allocation Money from FC Dallas for Fafa Picault. They could also receive up to $750,000 from Colorado in exchange for young center-back Auston Trusty.
As the expansion clubs fill their rosters and teams look to hoard allocation money, we will likely see more deals when the window opens in January. Let’s take a look at some players who could be on the market:
Hector Villalba, Atlanta United
Villalba’s name is often brought up as a trade target. He has been a star in the past, but he has mostly fallen out of favor in Atlanta, and it seems unlikely that Frank de Boer will ever fully integrate Villalba as more than a bench player.
Atlanta will see offers from teams outside of MLS. Villalba has had success in Argentina, and he’s been linked to Liga MX teams. If ATL receive a big offer from a non-MLS team, they will likely jump at it. But MLS clubs should at least poke around, given Villalba’s value as a scoring winger and threat in transition.
Sporting KC, after a disappointing season, could try to pair Villalba and Johnny Russell as opposite wings, with a new No. 9 in between them. The New York Red Bulls are always looking for a winger. The Portland Timbers could use an attacker given the uncertainty of Brian Fernandez’s situation. Atlanta will have to at least listen if MLS teams prepare significant offers, perhaps upwards of $1 million in allocation money.
Perry Kitchen, LA Galaxy
Kitchen has seen better days in MLS. In part due to injuries, he only appeared in eight games for the Galaxy in 2019, a year after playing in 31. At one point he was a steady contributor for D.C. United, earning US national team call-ups and a move to the Scottish Premiership. Everyone needs defensive midfield depth. The Galaxy could cut their losses and grab some allocation money with Kitchen under contract for at least another year.
Dom Dwyer, Orlando City SC
Orlando would probably love to move Dwyer somewhere and get his contract off the books. Dwyer is coming off a season in which he went long stretches without scoring goals, OCSC would improve by finding a player to fit more effectively as a center forward.
Some teams might still look at his season-by-season goal totals and see a solid contributor. His seven goals in 1,614 minutes last year is not bad output, and he scored 13 in 2018. As a bench scorer or occasional starter, he could hold value. Maybe he’s a man-marking bulldog for San Jose, or a rotation striker for either LA team if they have to wait until the summer to bring in a big name.
Jesus Medina, NYCFC
Medina, a Designated Player who was once seen as a prominent part of NYCFC’s future, was not a favorite of Dome Torrent last year. He made only six starts, and his minutes were rarely inspiring. He didn’t make an appearance in the playoffs.
Even with Torrent gone, it seems plausible that NYC would want to receive value for their 22-year-old promising attacker who was once on the fringes of the Paraguayan national team. Medina can play on the wing and create. With good coaching and attacking freedom, he could help somewhere that needs attacking help.
For clubs in the midst of extensive rebuilds, like the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati, he could be a reasonable target.