MLS transfer roundup: Mensah swaps Crew for Quakes & LAFC sign Tillman

Mensah adds great experience to the Quakes defense.
Mensah adds great experience to the Quakes defense. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2023 MLS season fast approaching, teams are hard at work strengthening their rosters ahead of the big kick-off.

Here's all the big moves you may have missed over the last couple of days:

1. San Jose Earthquakes acquire Jonathan Mensah from Columbus Crew

With Brazilian defender Nathan suffering an ACL injury, it was vital the San Jose Earthquakes bolstered their options at center-back.

In Jonathan Mensah, they have acquired a player with 175 games under his belt and MLS Cup and Campeones Cup titles during his time with the Columbus Crew.

The Quakes will pay up to $500k in General Allocation Money (GAM) for Mensah's services, with $200k guaranteed across the next two seasons.

"Nathan’s unfortunate injury left a significant hole at a precarious time in our preseason that we didn’t hesitate to address quickly," Earthquakes general manager Chris Leitch said in a club press release. "We knew we needed to bring in a player of significant quality and experience to compete at the highest level in MLS.

"We feel very fortunate and excited to bring in Jonathan, who has been named MLS Best XI, has captained an MLS Cup-winning side, and who knows what it takes to perform and be a leader for a competitive team in MLS. His leadership and success in Major League Soccer will be invaluable to our squad as we approach the 2023 regular season and his qualities as a human being will positively impact our organization and community."

2. Timothy Tillman joins LAFC from Greuther Fürth

LAFC have bolstered their midfield with the signing of Timothy Tillman from 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Fürth.

Tillman - the older brother of USMNT and Rangers star Malik Tillman - has signed a three-year contract through the 2025 MLS season with a club option on 2026. He joins after notching two goals and six assists in 86 games across Germany's top two levels, including during a loan spell with 1. FC Nürnberg.

"Timothy is a dynamic, versatile midfielder with incredible experience in one of the top leagues in the world," LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said in a statement. "We are excited to welcome him to LA as we firmly believe he will contribute immediately and help in our ambitions to win more trophies."

3. Austin FC sign Will Bruin via free agency

Austin FC have added experience to their forward line with the signing of veteran Will Bruin.

The 33-year-old arrives via free agency following a five-year stay with the Seattle Sounders, signing a deal through the 2023 MLS season with an option on 2024.

"I’m thrilled to join Austin FC and ready to do whatever I can to help the team toward its goal of lifting trophies," Bruin said in a release. "After seeing the success the team had last year and the incredible support from the fanbase, I’m confident we can achieve great things together this season. I’m excited to get to work."

In total, Bruin has played 330 MLS regular season and Playoffs games combined during spells with Seattle and the Houston Dynamo, scoring 86 goals and providing 35 assists.

4. Sporting Kansas City sign SuperDraft pick Chris Rindov

Sporting Kansas City have added center-back Chris Rindov to their roster through the 2023 MLS season, with options on 2024 and 2025.

Rindov signs a professional contract after being selected 37th overall (second round) by SKC during the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, while he's logged 150 minutes during preseason, playing in all four of his side's friendlies so far.

The signing of Rindov comes as SKC have lost fellow center-back Kortne Forde for most likely the whole of the 2023 season after the defender underwent surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon.

5. Colombia international Santiago Arias joins FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati have added considerable quality to their backline with the signing of right-back Santiago Arias on a free transfer.

Arias' deal runs through the 2023 MLS season with an option on 2024.

Capped 54 times for his country, Arias arrives in Major League Soccer following a glittering career in Europe, playing almost 300 games for the likes of Atletico Madrid, PSV, Sporting CP, and Bayer Leverkusen.

The 31-year-old lifted multiple honors during that time, including three Eredivisie titles with PSV and a UEFA Super Cup with Atletico Madrid.

“Santi brings an enormous amount of experience and ability to FC Cincinnati,” general manager Chris Albright said in a club press release.

“His defensive instincts, character, and overall quality is a welcome addition to the group and I’d like to welcome him and his family to Cincinnati.”

6. Djevencio van der Kust joins Houston Dynamo on loan from FC Utrecht

The Houston Dynamo have announced the signing of left-back Djevencio van der Kust on loan from Eredivisie side FC Utrecht.

Van der Kust is the second left-back signing this winter from the Dynamo, who also added Australia international Brad Smith via free agency. However, depth was needed in that position with Smith still recovering from an ACL injury and Adam Lundqvist leaving for Austin FC.

“We are excited to welcome Djevencio to Houston and look forward to his continued development after earning competitive minutes in one of the top leagues in the world,” Dynamo general manager Pat Onstad said in a statement. “He is a promising young player that we believe can make an impact this season. He was very clear about why he wanted to join the club and we’re excited to welcome him."

Prior to becoming a first-team regular, Van der Kust made 48 appearances for Utrecht II before going on to play 24 times at senior level.