The MLS winter transfer window is now in full swing.
A lot of focus has been diverted to the outgoing transfers of USMNT strikers Ricardo Pepi to Augsburg and Daryl Dike to West Brom - understandably so, given the fees involved.
But MLS clubs are already making moves to strengthen their rosters ahead of the start of the new season in February.
Thursday was a particularly busy day of activity:
1. John Nelson the latest part of FC Cincy's defensive overhaul
New general manager Chris Albright and head coach Pat Noonan have already been hard at work overhauling FC Cincinnati's backline. Thus far, they've added goalkeeper Alec Kann from Atlanta United, Alvas Powell from the Philadelphia Union, and Raymon Gaddis who was convinced out of retirement.
Hardly surprising given they conceded a league-high 74 goals last season.
Their latest move sees them bring Ohio-native John Nelson to TQL Stadium following a three-season stay with FC Dallas where he made 30 MLS regular-season appearances.
“We’d like to welcome John to Cincinnati. He’s a promising young defender who has already played games in this league, and we are excited to add him to the group," Albright said of the 23-year-old left-back in a club press release.
2. Chris Hegardt becomes Charlotte FC's 19th player
No club has been busier than Charlotte FC, which isn't surprising considering they're building their first-ever roster ahead of the 2022 season.
The 19th player through the door at Bank of America Stadium is 20-year-old midfielder Chris Hegardt, who arrives on a homegrown contract from Georgetown University. CLTFC will pay the Seattle Sounders $50k in General Allocation Money (GAM) for his rights, as well as another $50k if Hegardt meets certain performance markers.
“Chris was a midfielder we really liked as we evaluated college players across the country in advance of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, and we’re delighted to have signed him to an MLS contract," sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a club press release.
"We believe there are good players throughout the U.S. at the college level, and to acquire Chris prior to the draft was very important. He had professional experience during his time in Seattle and adding him as a Homegrown player lets us maintain roster flexibility as we continue to build out our inaugural squad.”
3. Exciting winger Yaw Yeboah bolsters Columbus Crew's forward line
As defending champions, the Crew will have been bitterly disappointed to miss out on the Playoffs in 2021.
Two of the eight teams that finished above them had worse defensive records, while runaway Supporters Shield winners New England Revolution only conceded four fewer than their 45 goals allowed. What really let them down was a blunt attack brought on by injuries, with six of those eight teams outscoring them.
To remedy that issue, Columbus have brought in exciting Ghanian winger, Yaw Yeboah, who notched 10 goals and five assists in 50 matches across all competitions for Polish side Wisla Krakow. The 24-year-old arrives on a TAM deal and also has experience in the Manchester City youth system.
“We are thrilled to welcome Yaw to Columbus,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “Yaw is a young winger whose dynamic style of play has made him one of the most exciting up-and-coming players in the Ekstraklasa during his time in Poland.
“In addition to playing in some of the top leagues in Europe, Yaw also brings valuable international experience with the Ghanaian national team. We believe his addition to our roster will strengthen our attack and help us increase production out wide.”
4. Kelvin Leerdam offers championship-winning experience to LA Galaxy
For the LA Galaxy to get back to being a championship-winning team, perhaps they need to add more championship-winning players?
That's exactly what they've done with right-back Kelvin Leerdam, who helped the Seattle Sounders win MLS Cup in 2019, as well as three Western Conference championships. The Suriname international arrives via free agency following a year with Inter Miami.
“Kelvin is an experienced, championship-winning player and we are pleased to bring him to our club,” head coach Greg Vanney said in a release. “His quality provides more depth and versatility to our roster and we look forward to him playing an important role in the team.”
Leerdam is unlikely to dislodge Julian Araujo from his right-back spot, but will offer experienced cover, and can plug gaps in other areas of the pitch if required.
5. Max Alves brings Brazilian flair to Colorado
The Colorado Rapids topped the Western Conference last season and have wasted no time in preparing for life in the CONCACAF Champions League, signing talented Brazilian midfielder Max Alves from Flamengo.
Max has signed a contract through 2025 with an option for 2026 and qualifies for the MLS U22 Initiative.
“Max is an athletic, technical midfielder who at his young age already has experience playing for one of the biggest clubs in South America,” Colorado executive vice president and general manager Padraig Smith said in a release. “We’re excited to add a player of his quality and potential to our group heading into next season.”
At 20 years old, Max has 25 senior games under his belt for Flamengo and Cuiabá Esporte Clube to date, scoring one goal.
6. Jan Gregus finalizes San Jose Earthquakes switch
After picking him up in the MLS Re-Entry Draft, the San Jose Earthquakes did what we all thought they would by confirming the signing of midfielder Jan Gregus.
The 30-year-old Slovakia international previously occupied a Designated Player spot at Minnesota United but was brought to San Jose using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and won't occupy an international roster slot after receiving his green card last year.
“We’re very excited to welcome Jan to San Jose,” general manager Chris Leitch said in a release. “We have always thought very highly of him during his time in Major League Soccer and know his ability to impact matches in many ways. He’s also familiar with the unique challenges of this league and his experience, both domestic and international, will be an asset for our club.
In 74 appearances for Minnesota United, Gregus scored four goals and provided 17 assists.