Though there is still plenty of time for MLS clubs to fill out their 2017 rosters, preseason camps are set to open across the league. As such, I'll go down the list of teams to weigh their offseason productivity to date. we'll start with the non-playoff teams (including the expansion newcomers) and then move on to last season's postseason participants. As the sun rises in the east, so shall we in this exercise.
Best move so far: That is a tough call, to be sure. Some might say the capture of Kenwyne Jones, some may prefer the drafting of Miles Robinson, some would point to the Michael Parkhurst pick-up or even the luring of Hector Villalba. One can also applaud their ability to get several guys loans to stay in form. Those are all great (and I could add another 2-3 moves to that list), but let's go with the swoop for Miguel Almirón, who is probably just about at the age where he'll break out as a playmaker.
Biggest hole left to fill: Another bona fide starting-level center back, no doubt. Still, if they don't grab Brad Guzan sooner rather than later, the goalkeeping stable needs an upgrade.
Mid-Term Grade: A
Best move so far: Ummm... passing Xavier Kouassi fit? There isn't much else to choose from. They drafted a forward when 3-4 defenders who could likely help right away were still available. Hey, maybe Brian Wright turns into a proper MLS player. His selection certainly did not fit their needs, unless they plan on trading Kei Kamara for a tidy haul at the back. As it stands, all they have going for them in the front half of the field has a ton to make up for what they lack in the back.
Biggest hole left to fill: Let's talk about the defense stable. Though one could say that the Revs currently have exactly one complete back line on the roster, it's probably not quite the one they want and a long season will require healthy depth. Throw in the fact that their defensive midfield stable looks kinda shaky and this becomes a dire situation. I'll consider it a crushing blow if they don't pull off a Jonathan Spector coup. His experience and versatility would be huge for the Revs.
Mid-Term Grade: F
Best move so far: This will abruptly change if they do land Spector. That would be tops by a good distance. For now, we'll offer some kudos for nabbing Will Johnson, who can certainly help this team move traffic away from their questionable defense.
Biggest hole left to fill: If "PC" Giro turns out to be a fine left back, they can shift Brek Shea back into attack, filling their great need for another productive winger. They also need depth at right back and center forward, but I'll go with center back. If they do get Spector, let's switch it to finding a striker to back-up/complement Cyle Larin.
Mid-Term Grade: C- as it stands, B if they land Spector.
Best move so far: Easy. Jonathan Mensah will provide them with an experienced and athletic stopper at the back. Drafting Lalas Abubakar wasn't too shabby, either. The seemingly good news for Crew fans is the team usually does most of the offseason business late.
Biggest hole left to fill: Unless Zack Steffen is ready to shine now, it's the one left by departing netminder Steve Clark.
Mid-Term Grade: B
Best move so far: With all due respect to Juninho and Nemanja Nikolić, say hello to Dax McCarty, who automatically gives this team a top-shelf conduit to what should be a spunky attack.
Biggest hole left to fill: While some would say a proper #10, I will insist the Fire most need useful depth pieces in the wingback slots.
Mid-Term Grade: A
Tomorrow, we head West to check out the Minnesota and the 2016 also-rans. And I will soon resume the food list-ifying from our US trip, tackling the top five (non-taco) savory menu items we sampled across America. Sneak preview: all but one that made the list comes from an MLS city.
- Greg Seltzer