Following the conclusion of the 2020 season, Major League Soccer was given a chance to breathe. A congested, confusing, and ultimately unnecessary season, was concluded by crowning the Columbus Crew as MLS Cup Champions on Dec. 12th. The Crew defeated the Seattle Sounders, reigning champions and heavy favorites, 3-0 in stunning fashion.
A reminder: Minnesota United FC collapsed late against Seattle after holding a two-goal lead at halftime. The Sounders stormed back in the final quarter of the match, scoring three times to knock the Loons out in the semifinals and advance to the MLS Cup.
It has been a rather quiet offseason for most of the league since then, with a few signings being announced here and there. But for the most part, we are still waiting for a big-money move from someone. There have been fun transfer rumors including the likes of Deandre Yedlin returning, former Brazil international, Hulk, joining the league, and current Arsenal player Mesut Ozil sailing across the Atlantic. Those rumors are strictly rumors… for now. It’s MLS silly season — anything can happen.
Things are starting to pick up, though, and we are seeing more movement across the league now that the new year has begun. International roster spots, GAM & TAM, and Superdraft picks are going to be on the move as teams prepare to improve their rosters during the winter transfer window, free agency, and the upcoming 2020 Superdraft.
Through the eye of a Loon: What did you miss?
The Loons made their first big splash of the offseason by signing free agent Wil Trapp, a U.S. International who will provide instant leadership in the middle of the pitch, especially if Ozzie Alonso and the club cannot come to an agreement. According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, the club and Alonso are still undergoing talks on a possible return under a different contract.
Zgoda also reported that the Loons are looking into the possibility of bringing back striker Luis Amarilla, but they have not yet come to an agreement with his parent club, Velez. Minnesota also added defender Callum Montgomery via trade on Dec. 13 with FC Dallas. MNUFC sent Dallas a 2020 4th round pick and $50,000 GAM if he reaches certain performance parameters. Montgomery was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 Superdraft.
Last year’s leading scorer and club folk hero, Kevin Molino, turned down a contract offer roughly a week before Christmas, opting to head to free agency instead of re-signing with Minnesota. His departure shattered supporters’ hearts, and many opted to thank him and send words of encouragement his way via social media. Molino, who signed with MNUFC before their first MLS season in 2017, left the club with 25 goals scored in league play (including postseason) and 18 assists.
Molino’s departure opens up the checkbook, however. The Loons also have the opportunity to buy down both the contract of Jan Gregus and Thomas Chacon, which would open up a DP slot and a young DP slot — which could be turned into a normal DP slot with a chunk of change. In simpler terms, Minnesota now has the opportunity to use the cap space that Molino was taking up for a DP striker and a DP left-winger — something fans have been wanting for quite some time.
Basically, it’s still very, very early. There is plenty of time for rumors to surface, go away and then resurface again — we never know what offseasons will look like, especially the current one because of COVID-19. At this moment in time, there is no CBA agreement between the league and the players, although the league did propose one Tuesday, Jan. 5. We are still awaiting a response from the players association on whether or not they will accept the terms. Until a CBA is agreed, though, we have no season. So now, we sit patiently, scroll through Twitter, and wait for MLS silly season to keep on moving; that’s about all we can do.