MLS transfer roundup: Alan Franco to Charlotte FC, Ethan Finlay to Austin FC & more

Ethan Finlay will offer some much-needed experience to the Austin FC
Ethan Finlay will offer some much-needed experience to the Austin FC / Abbie Parr/GettyImages

The January transfer season is just around the corner, but MLS clubs are already getting business over the line following the official end of the 2021 season earlier this month.

With the start of the 2022 season coming around much faster, there's little time to waste. Things are only going to pick up pace from here.

But fear not. 90min is on hand to keep you up to date with the latest wheeling and dealing. Here are five MLS moves you might have missed since the start of this week.

1. Charlotte FC land Ecuadorian midfielder Alan Franco

Charlotte FC have been moving fast building out their roster for their debut MLS season. But they stepped it up a notch on Tuesday with the signing of midfielder Alan Franco, who will occupy an international spot on CLTFC's roster after signing on loan from Atletico Mineiro in Brazil.

Not to be confused with the Atlanta United center-back of the same name, Franco is an 18-time Ecuador international with Copa Sudamericana and Brazilian Serie A titles under his belt. At just 23, he's already notched up 122 senior club appearances, scoring eight goals and assisting another five.

Franco worked with Charlotte head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez at Independiente del Valle back home in Ecuador, winning the Sudamericana under his stewardship in 2019.

“Alan is a versatile midfielder who knows the system and style of football we want to play and was very productive during his time with Miguel at Independiente del Valle,” sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a press release.

“He has become a regular in the Ecuador national team, who are on pace to qualify for the World Cup in a very challenging region. With this addition, we continue to add title-winning talent to our roster as we approach our inaugural season, and we look forward to seeing Alan in Charlotte soon.”

As revealed by 90min, CLTFC have the option to make this loan permanent.

2. Ethan Finlay switches Minnesota United for Austin FC

Austin FC actually played some nice soccer at times in their 2021 expansion year, despite finishing 12th in the West. What they often lacked was some MLS know-how.

They should have that in buckets now with the addition of winger Ethan Finlay from Minnesota United. The 31-year-old has been in Major League Soccer for over 10 years, making 245 regular-season appearances to date for Minnesota and the Columbus Crew combined, scoring 49 goals and registering 42 assists. He also has three senior caps for the United States.

Perhaps his biggest asset, though, is his work rate - no defender will be safe on the ball while Finlay is around.

“Ethan is a very strong addition to the club,” Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a release. “He possesses quality and experience, both of which will be valuable as we continue to grow and improve heading into 2022. We can’t wait to welcome him to Austin.”

3. Spencer Richey to provide back-up in Chicago

Teenage sensation Gabriel Slonina established himself as the Chicago Fire's No.1 toward the end of last season. If he continues his rapid rise, he might well do the same for the USMNT in years to come.

But with Bobby Shuttleworth gone, the Fire still needed to bring in some senior cover for Slonina. They've done just that with the acquisition of Spencer Richey.

The 29-year-old has played 32 times in MLS to date, keeping seven clean sheets, as well as having vast experience at USL level.

4. Uri Rosell returns to bolster Sporting KC midfield

After seven years away, Uri Rosell is back in Sporting Kansas City colors, joining from Orlando City via free agency. The 29-year-old Spanish midfielder was a part of SKC's MLS Cup-winning side of 2013 and knows Peter Vermes' methods inside out.

"I am really happy to be back home. I'm excited for this new opportunity. I'm here to win again," Rosell said of his return to Kansas City, which lasts until at least the end of 2023 with an option for a further year.

After coming back to the United States from Sporting CP in Portugal, Rosell turned out 73 times for Orlando City, providing one assist and, more importantly, a strong defensive shield in front of the Lions' backline.

5. Darwin Quintero re-signs with the Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo finished rock-bottom of the West in 2021, so the last thing they could afford was losing one of their prime attacking talents. Luckily, they've managed to re-sign Darwin Quintero for the 2022 campaign, with an option for 2023.

“Darwin is a game-changer, he brings an offensive quality that can win games,” Dynamo general manager Pat Onstad said in a club press release.

“Darwin expressed his desire to remain in Houston and that is a tribute to the city, the fans, and the strong support staff at the club. We are excited to see his continued contributions."

Though he's now 34, Quintero remains a skillful and unpredictable forward. The Colombian has 10 goals and nine assists to his name in 42 appearances for the Dynamo across all competitions.

“I am excited to return to Houston and tackle a big year for the team in 2022,” Quintero said. “Our goals are very clear and I want to play a role in helping the team get to that next level.”