[MY VIEW] With the close of the winter transfer window in most of Europe, this should be the season for MLS clubs to step in and grab the headlines on the transfer front. But except for the news that D.C. United has agreed to take Charlie Davies on loan, conditional on how the Sochaux striker looks during a week-long look-see at training camp in Florida, things have been quiet.
Even the Davies loan deal was tempered by the report that D.C., desperate for help up front (*), will evaluate its situation with an eye toward making moves during the summer transfer window. The implication: any moves D.C. makes now are band-aid measures, and the serious action will take place during the summer.
As training camps open, clubs are loading up on obscure trialists instead of showing off new signings and integrating them into their first teams at training camp. Toronto FC opened its preseason with six trialists in action against Partizan of Serbia on Wednesday. Would teams in any other major American sport rely so heavily on such longshots in preseason?
The reliance of MLS clubs on signing players during the summer transfer window -- when they become available, mostly as free agents, following the end of the European season -- means that they lose a vital opportunity for promotion during the long offseason.
On a more promising note, the move of MLS clubs to aggressively sign home-grown players from their academy programs is an exciting development and a reason to follow their progress in preseason. Andy Najar was signed by D.C. United after a strong winter, and he justified the move with a Rookie of the Year season in 2010.
It will be exciting to see how recent signings like 15-year-old Diego Fagundez at New England and 16-year-old Zach Pfeffer at Philadelphia do in preseason and how MLS clubs bring in academy players for extended looks this winter. (Real Salt Lake took a look at a half dozen players during its camp in Arizona, and TFC had two in action Wednesday in Turkey.)
*Danny Allsopp, a bust with D.C. last season, has been on fire since his return to the A-League, where he has scored five goals in his past four games for Melbourne Victory.