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Grading five years of RSL transfer windows

Taking a transfer window deep dive

OL Reign v Utah Royals FC

With the transfer window slamming to a close yesterday, I started taking a look at previous transfer windows to mount a little bit of a comparison. In doing so, I found that it’s a fair amount of work, and nobody’s really compiled it all in this sort of format that I could easily find, so you’re going to get a little bit of a limited look.

Ideally, though, this gives me a framework for looking at future transfer windows, so hopefully I remember this exists.

Anyway, on to the fun. I’m going to grade each of RSL’s last 10 transfer windows. Transfer windows before this one have the benefit of being in the past for my grading, and I’m not going to try to be objective and put myself in that mindset. Let’s grade these transfer windows on outcomes, not on potential.

Of course, this transfer window can only be graded on potential, because the future has yet to happen, if you truly do believe that time is linear.

OK, on with it.

Summer 2022

Grade: C. While we did fill the three positions of need described in Winter 2022, they’re all short-term solutions. Musovski’s MLS contract apparently expires at the end of the year. Ojeda is in on a year-long loan. Oviedo is reportedly on an 18-month deal. That’s a weird thing, and it doesn’t feel like the front office isn’t expecting big things from the latter two. Diego Luna is a good addition as well, and while he fell between transfer windows because of the weird rules of MLS (MLS trades have to take place inside the window, and transfers from outside the U.S. must as well, but transfers from inside the U.S. can happen any time before the roster freeze), I’m still counting him here, because I do think we need to account for him here.

It’s also a little (or very) awkward for a coach to talk publicly about how players aren’t first-choice or second-choice, but I won’t let that impact the grade here.

If some of these players become great contributors, I think we’d be right to look more positively on it. But there’s also a not-insignificant chance they don’t,

In: Diego Luna (transfer from El Paso Locomotive), Danny Musovski ($250k GAM trade w/ LAFC), Braian Ojeda, Bryan Oviedo

Out: Chris Kablan (loan terminated), Everton Luiz (free), Jonathan Menendez (loan), David Ochoa ($75k GAM trade w/ D.C. United)

Winter 2022

Grade: B-. I think this is actually pretty good, especially on players in. Losing Albert Rusnak on a free does bring this down from a B to a B-, because that was a travesty. But our players in are good, save Chris Kablan. Each of the players listed are contributors to the team, which is about as good as you can hope for in MLS. To be an A, I think we’d have filled positions of real need — especially a commanding midfielder, a left back, and a true center forward. But I do also understand not being able to add all the players you’d like at once, and I think that’s fine. A B- is not outright awful.

In: Scott Caldwell (free agent), Sergio Cordova (loan), Anderson Julio (transfer from Atletico San Luis), Chris Kablan (loan), Johan Kappelhof (free agent), Jasper Löffelsend (MLS draft), Jefferson Savarino (transfer from Atletico Mineiro)

Out: Milan Iloski, Douglas Martinez, Ashtone Morgan, Justin Portillo, Noah Powder, Jeizon Ramirez, Donny Toia (above all option declined), Albert Rusnak (free agency to Seattle)

Summer 2021

Grade: C-. An incredibly slow window here. Most additions came earlier in the season. The one signing, Bobby Wood, has been injured more than he played. I don’t know if we needed big additions (we’d just signed Datkovic, Julio, Menendez and Rubin in the winter window, after all,) so I’m hesitant to grade lower. But I can’t grade it higher than this with retrospection being an option.

In: Bobby Wood

Winter 2021

Grade: C-. We signed two players in Datkovic and Menendez that barely got a chance for the club and one in Rubio Rubin who has been frozen out. Anderson Julio keeps this from dipping into a D grade. Brody has been a surprise mainstay for RSL, but homegrown signings that seem that natural don’t really move the needle on grades for me. It’s about the big picture.

In: Andrew Brody, Toni Datkovic, Jeff Dewsnup, Zack Farnsworth, Bret Halsey, Bode Hidalgo, Anderson Julio, Jonathan Menendez, Noah Powder, Rubio Rubin

Out: Corey Baird, Luis Arriaga, Kyle Beckerman, Alvin Jones, Luke Mulholland, Giuseppe Rossi, Julian Vazquez

Summer 2020

Grade: N/A. COVID-19. Nothing to say here. What an awful, weird year.

Winter 2020

Grade: D-. I know COVID-19 affected a lot of this, because it created some chaos that we could not rightly have planned for. But of our players we brought in, only Justin Meram and Maikel Chang had any staying power, and Chang came in from Real Monarchs. But this is the window in which we signed Giuseppe Rossi, Alvin Jones, Ashtone Morgan, and Jeizon Ramirez. That’s bad business.

In: Maikel Chang, Alvin Jones, Milan Iloski, Justin Meram, Giuseppe Rossi, Ashtone Morgan, Jeizon Ramirez

Out: Danilo Acosta, Brooks Lennon, Kelyn Rowe, Sebastian Saucedo, Jefferson Savarino

Summer 2019

Grade: F. We added a position of real need in Sam Johnson, but he was basically frozen out by Mike Petke, weirdly. Kelyn Rowe was a not-awful emergency signing, but it was clear he was a “break glass” guy. Douglas Martinez was a guy we took a little bit of a flyer on, but he never did anything of note. This is probably the worst transfer window from RSL I’ve seen, especially when you take Winter 2019 into account as well. 2019 was a bad year.

In: Everton Luiz (transfer), Douglas Martinez, Sam Johnson, Kelyn Rowe

Out: Adam Henley

Winter 2019

Grade: D. Our roster was not in great shape, honestly, and while we did improve the midfield by adding Everton Luiz — a good addition by any stretch — we needed a forward. We eventually got Sam Johnson. So, uh, yeah. Erik Holt eventually turned into a reasonable center back for the team, and while he’s not first choice, I don’t plan for a loss when I see him on the roster. Arriaga and Vazquez were very clearly academy signings for the sake of academy signings, and only Arriaga saw sparing minutes for the first team. Four, to be precise.

In: Luis Arriaga, Erik Holt, Everton Luiz (loan), David Ochoa, Donny Toia, Julian Vazquez

Out: Danilo Acosta (loan), Shawn Barry, Tony Beltran, Jose Hernandez, Ricky Lopez-Espin, Taylor Peay, Demar Phillips, Luis Silva, Stephen Sunday

Summer 2018

Grade: C. Onuoha alone would be an A, but he’s not alone here. Ortuño leaving was probably good for all parties, but it was still kind of a lousy window.

In: Nedum Onuoha, Andrew Putna

Out: Alfredo Ortuño

Winter 2018

Grade: B. Some great players here that are still having an impact: Aaron Herrera, Damir Kreilach, Pablo Ruiz and Jefferson Savarino are all important players for the team. There were also a number of real misses that bring this grade down, including Alfredo Ortuño.

In: Corey Baird, Shawn Barry, Adam Henley, Aaron Herrera, Alex Horwath, Damir Kreilach, Brooks Lennon, Alfredo Ortuño, Taylor Peay, Pablo Ruiz, Jefferson Savarino (transfer after loan),

Out: Chad Barrett, Reagan Dunk, Omar Holness, Yura Movsisyan, Justin Schmidt, Chris Schuler, Matt Van Oekel, Ricardo Velazco, Chris Wingert