MLS Rewind: Midseason splurges prove tricky

The summer transfer market is when most players become available, free agents, players clubs decide to unload and players looking for a change. That poses a problem for MLS clubs as they are in midseason. Incoming players often struggle settling into new lineups and gaining their fitness after short or no breaks.

The summer transfer window has drawn many of its biggest names to MLS. David Beckham (2007) and Clint Dempsey (2013) were probably MLS's most influential signings in terms of showing the commitment of owners to spend on international stars and get top Americans back to MLS from Europe.

But the Galaxy, already struggling, won one of 10 games after Beckham arrived and didn't make the 2007 playoffs. Dempsey scored one goal in nine regular-season games and didn't score in the playoffs in his first season back in MLS with the Seattle Sounders.

Of the big midseason signings in 2015 -- Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo at NYCFC, Steven Gerrard at the Galaxy and Didier Drogba at Montreal -- only Drogba had any kind of -- well -- impact, scoring 11 goals in 11 regular-season games and helping Montreal reach the Eastern Conference semifinals.

That was a lot of wasted money on Lampard, Pirlo and Gerrard on half-season contracts for these aging stars. With a full preseason to prepare, Lampard and Pirlo helped NYCFC make the playoffs. Gerrard had little impact in Year 2 with the Galaxy and is now out of the league.

Here's how midseason signings impacted MLS in 2011-15 ...

2011. Robbie Keane will go down as the greatest Designated Player signing in MLS history, winning three MLS championships with the Galaxy (2011, 2012 and 2014) and scoring 83 goals in 125 games. He played only four regular-season games and four playoff games in 2011. He didn't score in MLS Cup but his great run helped set up Landon Donovan's winning goal in the 72nd minute.

2012. Federico Higuain won MLS Newcomer of the Year though he only played 13 games (five goals and seven assists) for the Columbus Crew. Ricardo Clark and Oscar Boniek Garcia helped return the Houston Dynamo to MLS Cup, where it again fell to the Galaxy, and they are both still with the Dynamo four years later.

2013. Diego Valeri arrived from Lanus in Argentina and helped the Portland Timbers reach the MLS playoffs for the first time, beating Dempsey's Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals before falling to Real Salt Lake on step before MLS Cup.

2014. Jermaine Jones signed with New England in a controversial tug of war that pitted the Revs against the Chicago Fire. All the Revs did were go 8-1-1 in the 10 regular-season games after he arrived and make MLS Cup.

2015. Lucas Melano started for the champion Timbers, scoring one of the best goals of the playoffs with a series-clinching golazo against FC Dallas in the Western Conference final, while Harrison Afful and Gaston Sauro stepped into the starting lineup of runner-up Columbus. (A year later, their impact has been minimal as both clubs failed the make the playoffs.)
2 comments about "MLS Rewind: Midseason splurges prove tricky".
  1. Darvin Loredo, December 8, 2016 at 2:13 p.m.

    This is a very valid reason but weather would play a major part in sales in places where snow is a problem.

  2. Gus Ortiz, December 8, 2016 at 11:26 p.m.

    There are several reasons why I think MLS should change to a fall-spring calender with a Bundesliga-like winter break.. While not having World Cups played right in the middle of our season ranking very high I think that not having the play-off momentum interruped by a November FIFA date even more significant. A fall-spring calender would have the playoffs in May culminating to an MLS Cup played in a much less sports congested, better weather date which would increase its broadcast value.

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