Seven summer moves that shake up MLS playoff race

With the close of the European transfer windows, activity is winding down for MLS clubs, and it's time to evaluate how they did during the summer windows.

MLS's shorter and secondary market isn't easy to navigate. More players become available for transfers, or preferably for the budget tastes of most MLS clubs, loans or moves on free transfers at the end of European (and South American) league seasons.

Some MLS clubs are willing to break up lineups in mid-season or incorporate new players on the fly. Others need to make mid-season moves to bolster their playoff chances.

Here's a look at seven moves in and out of MLS impacting the 2016 playoff race.

1. Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle <-- Boca Juniors).
All Lodeiro did in his first month was get the Sounders back in the MLS playoff race. In six games, the Uruguayan has scored two goals and added six assists, ranking him immediately among MLS's elite playmakers. Sigi Schmid helped convince Lodeiro to sign with Seattle. Unfortunately, he was fired the day before Lodeiro signed.

2. Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas --> Trabzonspor).
The Colombian forced the hand of the Supporters' Shield leaders when he showed up at training at Trabzonspor. Too bad the deal wasn't done. A delay in the payment of the first of two installments almost killed the deal. Castillo will be missed in the FC Dallas attack lacking a sure-fire scorer. It enters the final two months of the MLS season with a five-point lead. Castillo will be forgotten if FCD holds on. If it doesn't ...

3. Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia <-- Nantes).
A change in coaches at Nantes meant that Bedoya was going to be phased out of the lineup at Nantes. Vincent Nogueira's sudden return to France meant the Union had a hole in midfield, and Bedoya fills in nicely. He brings poise and leadership to a young Union that looks like it will make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

4. Nigel de Jong (LA Galaxy --> Galatasaray).
De Jong was one of the most unpopular signings (outside Carson) in MLS history and the Dutchman lived up to his reputation as a hard man, earning two multi-game suspensions in six months. The reasons for his move to Turkish club Galatasaray, where he is reunited with countryman Wesley Sneijder, aren't entirely clear. But his exit resolves the issue of the Galaxy being stuck with him on a DP salary in 2017 and 2018. In the short term, he leaves in a hole in the Galaxy midfield, where he could have been used. The Galaxy is reeling from injuries.

5. Hernan Bernardello (Montreal <--  Alaves) | Matteo Mancosu (<-- Bologna)
The Impact doesn't get a lot of coverage stateside, but the twin signings of Bernardello and Mancosu gives the Impact a boost in its bid to claim the Eastern Conference title. In his second stint in Montreal, Bernardello is a big help in midfield while Mancosu provides cover up front for aging Didier Drogba.

6. Vytautas Andriuskevicius (Portland <--  Cambuur) | Steven Taylor (<-- Newcastle Utd.)
The Timbers needed help in the back if they were to contend for back-to-back MLS titles, and they got it with a pair of free agents who are both starting: Englishman Taylor in place of injured Nat Borchers (out for the season) and Lithuanian left back Vytas.

7. Tim Howard (Colorado <-- Everton).
Howard's deal was completed in the spring, but he couldn't register with the Rapids until the MLS window re-opened. Zac MacMath was 9-2-5 with a league-low 0.69 goals-against average in 16 games. Howard is only 2-2-5 with a 1.22 GAA (11th in the league) since taking over in the Colorado goal. But as he showed with his amazing stop on Javier Morales' penalty kick last weekend, he has big-game qualities that could get the Rapids into the playoffs and perhaps earn them a first-round bye.

MLS Players on the move from abroad (27):
Jose Aja (Orlando City), Loan  <-- Nacional (URU)
Vytautas Andriuskevicius (Portland), Free <--  Cambuur (NED)
Yair Arboleda (Houston),  Loan  <-- Independiente Santa Fe (COL)
Gbenga Arokoyo (Portland), Free <-- Gaziantepspor (TUR)
David Arshakyan (Chicago), Transfer <-- FK Trakai (LIT)
Pedro Baez (Real Salt Lake), Loan <-- Cerro Porteno (PAR)
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia), Transfer <-- Nantes (FRA)
Hernan Bernardello
(Montreal), Transfer <--  Alaves (ESP)
Keyner Brown
(Houston), Loan <-- Herediano (CRC)
Maxime Chanot (New York City), Transfer <-- Kortrij (BEL)
Armando Cooper (Toronto FC), Loan <-- Arabe Unido (PAN)
Cody Cropper (New England), Free Agent <-- MK Dons (ENG)
Omer Damari (NT Red Bulls), Loan <-- RB Leipzig (GER)
Aubrey David (FC Dallas), Loan <-- Saprissa/CRC)
Michael de Leeuw (Chicago), Free <-- FC Groningen (NED)
David Edgar (Vancouver) Free <-- Birmingham City (ENG)
Alvaro Fernandez (Seattle), Transfer <-- Gimnasia y Esgrima (ARG)
Getterson (FC Dallas), Loan <-- J. Malucelli/BRA)
Tim Howard (Colorado), Transfer <-- Everton/ENG)
Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle), Transfer <-- Boca Juniors (ARG)
Matteo Mancosu (Montreal), Loan <-- Bologna (ITA)
Nicolai Naess (Columbus) Transfer <-- Stabaek (NOR)
Norberto Paparatto (FC Dallas), Transfer <-- Atletico Rafaela (ARG)
Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC) Free <-- Boluspor (TUR)
Daniel Royer (NY Red Bulls), Transfer <-- FC Midtjylland (DAN)
Zack Steffen (Columbus), Transfer <-- Freiburg (GER)
Steven Taylor (Portland), Free <-- Newcastle United (ENG)

MLS Players on the move to teams abroad (19):
Sam Adekugbe (Vancouver), loan --> Brighton & Hove Albion (ENG D2)
Dairon Asprilla (Portland), loan  --> Millonarios (COL)
Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), loan --> Trabzonspor (TUR)
Nigel de Jong (LA Galaxy), mutually terminated contract --> Galatasaray (TUR)
Fabian Espindola (Vancouver), transfer --> Necaxa (MEX)
Deybi Flores (Vancouver), loan --> Motagua (HON)
Gilberto (Chicago), mutually terminated contract --> Sao Paulo (BRA)
Adam Kwarasey (Portland), transfer--> Rosenborg (NOR)
Emil Larsen (Columbus), transfer --> Lyngby (DEN)
Jack McBean (LA Galaxy), loan --> Coventry City (ENG)
Leonel Miranda (Houston), loan expired --> Defensa y Justicia (ARG)
Vincent Nogueira (Philadelphia), mutually terminated contract --> Strasbourg (FRA)
Damien Perquis (Toronto FC), mutually terminated contract --> Nott. Forest (ENG)
Octavio Rivero (Vancouver), transfer --> Colo-Colo (CHI)
David Rocha (Houston), mutually terminated contract --> Real Oviedo (ESP)
Bryan Rochez (Orlando City), loan --> Real Espana (HON)
Daniel Salloi (Sporting KC), loan  --> Vasas (HUN)
Adrian Winter (Orlando City), mutually terminated contract --> FC Zurich (SUI)
Alex Zendejas (FC Dallas), transfer  --> Guadalajara (MEX)

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