Paul Arriola, photo courtesy of D.C. United
3. Teams are doing their major spending in the winter. Tons of TAM was spent during the winter on player signings. Much less in the summer. What that also means is less money was spent on transfer fees -- the acquisition cost of a player has to factored into his budget charge. Most transfers involved players who were free at the end of June, making them affordable. Despite the added financial incentives pumped into the system -- TAM -- MLS clubs still have rather strict spending limits.
4. Teams go for defensive help, both from within and outside MLS. Boring? Depth in the back is always an issue for MLS clubs. Some defenders acquired in trades will offer experience (Bobby Boswell at Atlanta United), others will provide cover (Christian Dean at Chicago Fire). Several imports, though, could fill big holes.
Western Conference teams who got defensive help:
4-Seattle: Kelvin Leerdam. Three shutout wins with Dutchman at RB.
5-Portland: Larrys Mabiala. Some shaky moments at CB, but Timbers have stabilized.
6-San Jose: Francois Affolter. Gives Quakes four CBs for three spots in new three-man backline.
8-Real Salt Lake: Marcelo Silva. Also unbeaten (three ties) since Uruguayan CB arrived.
Kelvin Leerdam, photo courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC
5. Cost of trading in allocation money has gone up. Everyone was shocked
when Chicago paid $400,000 in allocation money (GAM spread over two seasons) for Dax McCarty in January. That deal proved to be a bargain for the Fire.
Largest Summer Allocation Payments (GAM and/or TAM):
$1.6M Dom Dwyer (Orlando City to Sporting KC)
$500M Paul Arriola (D.C. United to LA Galaxy for rights)
$425M Ethan Finlay (Minnesota United to Columbus)
$400M Krisztian Nemeth (New England to Columbus for rights)