Three MLS teams that have improved this offseason

Written By Harrison Hamm on February 14, 2021

Now that MLS has officially avoided a lockout, we can evaluate where teams stand without worrying whether they will actually be playing games soon. On Saturday, it was confirmed that Orlando City would be signing 31-year-old forward Alexandre Pato, the once-hyped youth product who spent six years with AC Milan and has 10 goals in 27 caps with the Brazil national team.

That was one of the biggest signings of the winter window. Let’s take a look at some other MLS teams that have improved over the window transfer window.

FC Cincinnati

There was nowhere to go but up for Cincinnati, who have had a rough couple of years in MLS.

They’ve failed to hit on almost any of their signings. Things seem to be looking up, as FCC have been more aggressive in pursuing good players this offseason. Not everything has been completely ironed out yet, but if all of the credible rumors come true, Cincy might have a chance at reaching competence.

Most notably, they signed 21-year-old Brazilian forward Brenner as a young designated player from Sao Paulo. Brenner has had a great season in the Brazilian Serie A, attracting interest from some big European clubs. This is exactly the kind of signing that can change a club, if it hits. Brenner can come in for a couple of years, score a bunch of goals, and then net a big transfer fee. That may be a long way off, but Cincinnati haven’t had anything like this in their brief MLS history.

To complement this signing, they brought in veteran left back Ronald Matarrita from NYCFC, a proven commodity that can attack at a high level. They’ve recently been linked with former Atlanta midfielder Pity Martinez and former D.C. United attacker Luciano Acosta. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to sign either or both of them, given the allocation complications, but fans should be thrilled that their team is looking in that direction. Martinez could find his elite form if Cincinnati gave him the keys in a way that Atlanta never really did.

Keep an eye on second-overall draft pick Calvin Harris, too. Harris is a winger who will have a chance at starting.

Atlanta United

It hasn’t been a huge offseason for Atlanta, but after a down year in 2020, they have a chance to get back to full contention this season. The biggest move was bringing in manager Gabriel Heinze, stabilizing the managerial drama that has plagued them. Heinze will have Josef Martinez back from a torn ACL, which changes this team completely. Martinez is the second-best player in the league and is pretty much guaranteed to put up 25-30 goals (at least) if he’s healthy.

Those are the two most important additions. They also recently signed a new defensive midfielder, 21-year-old Santiago Sosa from River Plate, who will likely take over for the soon-to-be-departed Eric Remedi. That leaves their biggest need in defense, where right back Franco Escobar has been loaned to Newell’s Old Boys. They should also look to add a center back to partner Miles Robinson.

For now, it looks like Atlanta should be back. Then again, we thought Frank de Boer could be a great manager two years ago.

FC Dallas

We’ve covered FCD before in the past couple months, but no team has undergone quite as much change as Dallas. After a couple of years in which their young guys played well and their veteran signings plateaued, they’ve attempted to combine the two roster approaches. They traded longtime winger Michael Barrios and brought in lots of cash by transferring Bryan Reynolds to Europe, and then signed a couple of projected starters (winger Jader Obrian and center back Jose Antonio Martinez) along with young Venezuelan attacker Freddy Vargas.

To go along with this, Paxton Pomykal will return from a long-term injury and other Homegrown young players should take steps forward (19-year-old Tanner Tessmann is one to watch). Dallas has a way of sticking around in contention. If Obrian and Martinez hit, then they could be one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

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