Friday, February 3, 2017

Extra Credit

Since I put up offseason mid-term grades for the moves made by every MLS club, many of them have continued adding key pieces to their puzzles. As such, we'll just go ahead and revisit those roster build marks.

Atlanta (A to A+)

Josef Martinez is a speedy pick-up with bags of upside. He can either run the left flank or work off Kenwyne Jones. The fans in Atlanta should love his hot wheels. New center back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez seems a fine compliment to Michael Parkhurst. And don't forget, Brad Guzan arrives in July. For their sake, let's hope Alec Kann and Alexandros Tabakis can hold the goal line until then. All in all, Carlos Bocanegra & Co. have done a bang-up job creating this side.

LA Galaxy (B to A-)

Don't get me wrong, the Galaxy still need depth in defense. That said, Romain Alessandrini is an exciting pick-up that should help give them several highlight-reel strikes and one of the scariest counters in the league.

Minnesota (B- to A-)

Though the Loons haven't addressed their need for back line depth yet, the addition of experienced keeper John Alvbåge certainly shores up that position. They also brought in fellow Swede Rasmus Schüller to play smart in front of the defense. However, the biggest new acquisition was Kevin Molino, who should be a fantastic final piece to Minnesota's attack.

New England (F to C-)

New central defenders Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Mlinar Delamea arrived just in time to save Revs fans from a nervous breakdown. They will still need another defender for the center back stable - preferably one who is strong on the ball, as neither of the new signings will set the world on fire playing out of the back. Add another defender or two (left back depth?) and we can start talking about a passing grade.

NYCFC (C to C+)

The addition of midfielder Alexander Ring strengthens their central park stable, and they reportedly could add Anderlecht defensive midfielder Stephane Badji on loan. That and one more defender would bump them up to the next letter grade.

New York Red Bulls (D to C-)

Re-signing Damien Perrinelle helps fortify central defense, but they still need another couple defenders. And if Anatole Abang is not the guy to spell BWP on occasion, the Red Bulls should unearth another capable forward while they're at it.

Orlando City (C- to B- to C)

As promised, grabbing Jonathan Spector bumped their mark up to passing. Then, they went and dealt Kevin Molino away without getting a player in return. The good news is the Lions have a bucket of cash from that trade to obtain the productive cog their attack now requires.

Philadelphia (C- to B+)

While he's not Tranquilo Barnetta, Haris Medunjanin will bring some of his attributes to the Philly table. He can be one tricky bastard around the area. Signing Oguchi Onyewu puts an experienced hand in the heart of defense... but is he still the Gooch we all remmeber? If he get back to Sheffield Wednesday (read: 2013/14) form, his addition will have been a major coup (read: bump their grade to A). Fafa Picault adds some pace and slick moves to a wing stable that could use both, but the jury is out whether or not he can provide end product.

Portland (A- to A)

New DP Sebastián Blanco gives the Timbers the danger man they sorely needed on right wing. He should fit right in next to countryman Diego Valeri. Through no fault of their own, though, Portland still has important work to do. An injury suffered by Gbenga Arokoyo has ended his season before it began, throwing a wrench into their line-up. They already would have done well to find veteran center back depth, and now the club also badly needs to find a starter to compliment Liam Ridgewell. Do those two things and they not only get a perfect grade, they likely become my MLS Cup favorites.

UPDATE: While typing this out, the Timbers traded with Sporting KC to acquire defender Lawrence Olum, who shores up the depth spot. Now to pick up a new starter...

Real Salt Lake A to A+

I mentioned earlier that RSL really only needed some supplemental scoring to round out their fine squad - so they brought in Luis Silva (who hit 11 times for D.C. United in 2014) and look on the verge of grabbing shifty former academy winger Brooks Lennon on loan from Liverpool. And so that's that. This team is a serious dark horse threat to win it all.

San Jose (C to B)

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, as the Quakes still need to come together as a unit, but the capture of Jahmir Hyka caps some decent business done in the last week. He is the ideas man their offense was sorely lacking. While neither Danny Hoesen nor Marcos Ureña are the type of forward to create their own chances, both are well-suited to stretch opposing defenses at the end of all the outlet passes their midfield can muster. Florian Jungwirth, meanwhile, offers both capable depth across the back line and the passion of a guy who really, really wanted to play in MLS. If they can now also add a proper #10 with some experience to the mix, this team would be fully ready to battle this season.

- Greg Seltzer

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