Today marks the opening of the MLS Secondary Transfer Window, also known as the summer transfer window. This is the window in which players from overseas are more likely to be acquired, as they will be in their offseasons in all the major leagues of Europe and South America. The opening of the secondary transfer window also allows for intra-league trades, a market in which Dave Kasper has been successful in the past; with the team needing a dramatic overhaul, expect some movement over the course of the next month.
The window is open until August 9, and allows all the primary methods of acquiring players: discovery signing, trades, and homegrown player signings.
Last year, the secondary transfer window brought United Lloyd Sam, Patrick Mullins, and Kennedy Igboananike; the former two, when combined with the rest of the team already in place, sparked a run to the playoffs that placed United among the hottest teams in the league. In this past offseason, D.C. United stood fairly still, hoping that a full preseason would allow the same group to gel and continue their form from late 2016.
We have already heard a number of rumors of potential trialists or signees so far, but there are two primary positions that the team must address in this window to give them a chance at recovering the season (as well as building towards next year).
The main defensive midfielder for 2016 was Marcelo Sarvas; when he was injured, Ben Olsen turned to Jared Jeffrey and Rob Vincent. It was Vincent, however, who took over down the stretch of 2016, starting every game in September and October, and who was providing decent enough cover at the position to allow the offensive prowess around him to click. His absence this year, with an injury and then a blood clot, has been noticed, especially since Marcelo Sarvas is not the same player that he was last year.
But even besides Vincent, the team should be looking to upgrade the defensive midfield position in a large way. The midfield has looked muddled and disconnected, unable to play through the middle and connect the defense to the attack. Someone who can both break up play and pass, someone like Perry Kitchen, is sorely needed.
Another position in which Father Time looks to have made his mark, pushing Bobby Boswell to the bench and leaving a gap in his role as organizer of the defense. Steve Birnbaum and Kofi Opare can make every athletic play that there is, but neither of them seems to have fully stepped into the role of leader of the defense. Those one or two breakdowns in communication often lead to goals.
If United could build a time machine and get 2014 Bobby Boswell back, that would be excellent. Without that as a possibility, they should be looking for a center back who can lead the defense, and one who can allow Birnbaum and/or Opare to do what htey do best: make athletic plays.
We’ll have complete coverage of the transfer window, including further breakdowns, rumors, and players that we want to see United pursue, so look forward to plenty of that for the next month.