Which team has had the best offseason?


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In light of the series of player moves that have happened this offseason, most notably this past week, a number of Major League Soccer teams have improved themselves significantly – at least on paper.

Although not many of the playoff stalwarts did much tinkering heading into 2011, some of the league's worst teams from 2010 have appeared to take large steps in closing the talent gap, which should make for a pretty exciting season, one whose opening game is less than a month away.

So who are some of the teams that have made the best moves to date?

D.C. United and Chivas USA come to mind as two teams due for large improvements in 2011.

United has acquired Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty, Josh Wolff, Joseph Ngwenya, Perry Kitchen, Rodrigo Brasesco, Ethan White and (for the time being) Pat Onstad in an effort to bounce back from one of the most futile seasons in league history.

With new coach Robin Fraser behind the wheel, Chivas USA has seemingly rebuilt its defense overnight, adding the likes of Jimmy Conrad, Heath Pearce and Zarek Valentin. The offensive side of the ball hasn't entirely been ignored, with the team picking up Alejandro Moreno and also trading with its Home Depot Center rival Los Angeles Galaxy for U.S. Under-20 striker Tristan Bowen.

D.C. and Chivas weren't the only ones to turn over their rosters for the better, though.

The Philadelphia Union seemingly rectified its goalkeeping problems by acquiring Faryd Mondragon from FC Cologne and Zac MacMath in the SuperDraft. In addition to that, Peter Nowak's side added pieces like Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll and Chris Agorsor in an effort to make vast improvements in its second year in the league.

The Houston Dynamo are also in the mix when considering best offseasons. After a disappointing 2010,  the Dynamo added the likes of Hunter Freeman, Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin, Jermaine Taylor and Jason Garey while incorporating homegrown players Josue Soto and Alex Dixon.

As for a playoff team that made some bigtime adjustments, the Galaxy should be in the conversation. After losing Edson Buddle to Germany, the team brought in Juan Pablo Angel, Frankie Hejduk and Chad Barrett, among others, in an effort to return to MLS Cup glory.

Finally, a team like the Portland Timbers has also made some personnel headway, even if it's an expansion side. After the expansion draft, the Timbers managed to add Darlington Nagbe, Kenny Cooper, Sal Zizzo, Troy Perkins, Rodney Wallace and Jeremy Hall to its core group.

In your opinion, which team has had the best offseason so far? Cast your vote here:


How did you vote? Any teams not on the ballot that you think deserve mention?

Share your thoughts below.

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87 Responses to Which team has had the best offseason?

  1. dman says:

    I’m really excited about this MLS season

  2. Ben says:

    Chicago Fire have had the best offseason so far by adding unknown International Striker X!

  3. Brad says:

    I think the Rapids had the best offseason…..cause we spent it with the MLS cup.

  4. JJ says:

    Absolutely Seattle. We dropped high priced dead weight in Marshall and Sturgis. We gained young talent in Friberg, Tetteh, Carrasco, Cruz, and a backup keeper in Meredith/Ford.

    We also got rest and a full preseason for Nkufo and Fernandez. We DP’d Montero. We extended Ozzie’s contract.

    But most importantly, we got one year older together and healthy.

    Everything we did was an improvement except for losing Nyassi. But, we have guys that can fill his role probably better in Friberg, Fernandez, Montano, and Fucito.

  5. Charles says:

    I agree, I am jazzed about MLS around the corner with the Sounders, but there are many teams fans thinking the same thing because their teams got much better too.

    BUT you don’t even mention White !?!?

    He is a bit of a wildcard, but that could complete a straight, probably a straight flush, that the Sounders have been looking for complete for two years now.

  6. bob says:

    What no FCD??????? Oh wait you said best.

  7. JJ says:

    and White.

  8. CG says:

    In a previous thread someone posted that 2011 Fire = 2010 United. Unfortunately, I agree with them. Buying season tickets this year is going to be painful.

  9. pate says:

    What about RSL? Their biggest (player) loss is Robbie Findley. They’ve locked up a bunch of core players for the long term and picked up Arturo Alvarez and Cody Arnoux … Sounds like a pretty good off season to me.

  10. WK says:

    It’s DC of course mostly just based on the additions of Chuck D & Dax. If Perry kitchen has anything close to a ROY season DC will battle and can win games all season.

  11. Josh D says:

    Tend to agree! And with the recent happenings at DC – you’d expect at least one more addition to the defense.

  12. alf says:

    RSL. A very good side that lost virtually nobody (does Findley even count?) and added a few pieces here and there. Continuity is key if you have something that works ….

  13. Waterlewd says:

    For improvements to their squads that will have an immediate impact, I’m torn between DCU and Portland. I want to see how good this kid Kitchen will be, that could tip the scales to DCU for me. LA had a good offseason because all their key players come into the MLS season well-rested and they acquired some nice additions, but their age is a concern over the season. The award for worst offseason goes to the Fire and Crew.

  14. Matt Mathai says:

    I’m a little hesitant to get too excited in the preseason, but I think DCU has made some very good moves. If they come together on the field, it could be a good season.

  15. JS says:

    The union also got Levi from UMBC. He could be a threat for them in the up coming season.

  16. Johnny Thunder says:

    DC has had the beset off season with their signing of Dax, Kitchen and CD9 along with today’s announcement of Pat O back in goal. The mix of veterans, up and coming talent and a possible come back of one of our most promising USMNT strikers…that seals it for DC for me.

  17. sushant says:

    For me, it’s got to be DC United. Their moves to add Dax McCarty & Perry Kitchen were outstanding. Then, to get Charlie Davies? In the pre-season videos I’ve seen and reports, he looks close to being the old CD9. Sure, he may not be ready for Ligue 1, but he seems like he’s ready for MLS. I believe that the Timbers took KCooper and that allowed DC United to be next in line for CD9. Imagine the Timbers with CD9 (if i’m not mistaken about the allocation order). The Timbers with CD9 instead of KCooper would be #1.

    My #2 would be the Timbers.

  18. PSPTim says:

    DCU is out in front of this race and deservedly so, but the offseason (and window for that matter) aren’t over yet. Teams on this list, including Philly and Houston are liable to add at least one more big piece. This would be a great poll to do again on April 15.

  19. Oranje says:

    Don’t kid yourself into thinking that Carrasco, Cruz or Meredith is any sure thing. Outside of Friberg we didn’t add any certainties. How that could be considered a “best offseason” is beyond me. No wonder other fans get annoyed with us.

  20. Mango says:

    I think RSL’s off season has been flawless, although I don’t know if you can rate it as the best, since they didn’t need to transform a crappy team into something else.


  21. el guanaco says:

    RSL was arguably the best team in the league last season and lost little over the offseason (findley who was subpar; horst who was on loan). it didn’t need to completely retool so it simply strengthened its core by re-signing key players (saborio, borchers, johnson, rimando, paulo) and added alvarez (huge pickup), some nice draft picks, and a lucky lotto pick up (arnoux).

  22. ccb1212 says:

    I agree. I think RSL had a great off season. Resigning all their core players plus practically getting better in the expansion draft.

  23. Ryan says:

    RBNY!!! We added a Brazilian midfielder Paullo, harworking midfielder Solli, looks like a proven international Tainio will be signed to add to the backline, and a wildcard in Luke Rodgers to come off the bench!! If you watched the first half against Chivas the other night, you got to see how potent and sharp we are gonna be this season. My vote is for the Bulls!!!!

  24. Waterlewd says:

    What’s the happenings with Luis Gil? If he can come in and learn from some vets like Alverez, that would be a plus. Gil’s first touch alone could get him out of trouble, but his thinking needs to be quicker. Any indication he’ll be ready to contribute to RSL?

  25. Barry U says:

    DC looks real strong IMO if Chuck D plays to 90% of what he was when he scored @ The Azteca and Dax/Kitchen play well all season. Don’t count out Houston – I think Dom Kinnear is a very good judge of talent and coach. The two kids from the draft should help and having Cameron back for a full (if he stays healthy) will be huge. They won’t be down to long.

  26. Will says:


  27. Barry U says:

    I forgot to mention Hunter Freeman and Tally as additions to Houston that will make a splash.

  28. BCC says:

    LA, not because of who they added but because they kept Donovan.

  29. EMF says:

    I’d say Chivas if you include Robin Frazer and the new vision that he is bringing over from RSL. Purely from a player standpoint, I’d say DC United brought in the most new talent.

  30. Aljarov says:

    You kind of need to show what went out before you can comment on the best offseason dont you think? Showing Angel in, but not mentioning Buddle out, for example, is pretty misleading.

  31. Mark says:

    The Revolution bolstered their defense but didn’t improve AT ALL on their bottom-of-the-league offense. I’m not looking forward to a bunch of 1-0 losses.

  32. Paul says:

    I agree. And the loss of the ever-classy and ever-dangerous Angel may also prove to have a silver lining, as it makes room for Agudelo. They also added a great young forward in Hertzog, and will get Nielsen back from injury. Finally, the decision to move Marquez to CB is another off-season “move” that will pay great dividends.

  33. Bryan says:

    Has Ives even had any news about the Fire? Haven’t see much at all, preseason-wise.

    Would be nice if we could get a clue of how their preason games/training was going.

  34. MDD says:

    DC United brought in the most players, but they needed to. Overall, they caught up a bunch, but that just brings them up to the neighborhood that a lot of clubs were already at.

    The team chemistry plays a big part in MLS with the hard salary cap. Which team will get the most out of the players they have? That’s the question that I want the answer to – what, with so many teams that have similar levels of talent.

  35. Don Pelayo says:

    DC United needed a squad overhaul, and that is exactly what has occurred. I believe they have brought in enough quality players to resume their role as perennial playoff contenders.

  36. Ajonesin says:

    RSL had the best off season. They had no real pressing needs, and didn’t waste money chasing players. They didn’t lose any key pieces. They did well in the draft.

  37. Mark says:

    So subjective as to who had the best off season. As a Red Bull fan I think we had a great off-season, with some a nice mix of young/home grown guys, as well as guys who have extensive Euro/International experience. Plus a full pre-season with Henry and Marquez.

    But…DC was so abyssmal last year, that with the talent they added to the couple of good young guys they had on the roster already, they’ve got no where to go but up. So I cast my vote from them.

  38. brian says:

    Everyone is sleeping on Chivas, it seems as though they have fixed there porous backline. As painful as it is to think, they will be one of the top teams in the west

  39. Chicago - Scott says:

    Nyarko and Pappa better be ready

  40. Adam M. says:

    Not to mention the offseason allowed Henry to heal and get some rest, they “added” Marquez to their defense, and whatever else might be said about Angel, they removed someone who became a largely ineffective player from their offense and replaced him with youth and energy and what looks like a good nose for the goal in Agudelo. Other teams may have done more to improve their position relative to everyone else. But RB looks like it might have put itself a class above this offseason.

  41. DC Josh says:

    Seattle Sounders fans = Dallas Cowboys fans. Always think you’re better than you really are.

  42. DC Josh says:

    I think DC did very well in stocking attacking players. However, I am still concerned about our defense. Offseason was very good, on paper at least.

    RBNY had a very good offseason as well as the Timbers (can it even be considered an offseason for them?).

  43. KevDC says:

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone is arguing that DCU is going to be a Supporters Shield winner, but you can definitely make a case for most improved. A reasonable hope (for a DCU fan) would be to make the now 10-team playoffs. That simply requires being average and would represent a big leap forward after the disaster that was 2010.

    (OT: expanding the playoffs to 10 teams was a big mistake. What a head-scratcher!)

  44. bryan says:

    “After losing Edson Buddle to Germany, the team brought in Juan Pablo Angel…”

  45. EAscott says:

    Yeah I’m amazed that RSL not only held onto all that talent, but actually added to it. They should be in the discussion as well…

  46. Rainstpub says:

    How can you say that? The Chicago Fire will be ready this season!! They signed a couple great forwards…um, wait. The midfield has been hurt so they went out an got..oh. OK OK. The defense. That’s where they needed the most help and they got…oh yeah…Corey Gibbs. I guess he will have to win the ball out of the back, pass it to Gibbs out wide, serve it in to Gibbs for the header.

    This is going to be a great season for the Fire.

  47. kb says:

    how ’bout them Crew?! oh wait…..worst offseason ever. ever ever. i mean, it’s a pretty solid offseason for a D2 team. or coca-cola league 2. or bundesliga-4. but a team that nearly 3-peated for Supporters Shield? i predict a battle for draft picks between cbus and the f!re.

  48. Rainstpub says:

    That’s because the Fire just left for Florida where most teams are now wrapping up the most important part of preseason training. Hopefully the Fire can get a couple games against the U-14 Florida State Team. They should not be much better.

  49. LA says:

    As a Chivas USA fan I disagree. We still lack offensive side. Justin Braun can’t do it by himself. Don’t count of Gordon.

    DC United has more potential to make a comeback.

  50. Waterlewd says:

    Funny analogy! To me, being a fan is more about passion, hope, and belief rather than rational thinking. So, I won’t fault them for that. Seattle will be a contender because Quest Field is a difficult place to escape with points, credit to their supporters there. That place is like a fortress.

  51. k says:

    DC had the best offseason because they had to or they were going to be moved to D3.

  52. Hincha Tim says:

    I would have felt much better about the Timbers acquisitions if they had held on to McCarty and Anthony Wallace. Those two deals will prove costly to them short and long term.

    As far as RSL, I agree they had a good offseason with the exception of trading away their first round draft pick that they could have used to pick up Gen Adidas Left back Michael Tetteh. It would have cost them little and I think RSL needs more of an attacking option from its left back position to add variety to their attack.

  53. hendricks says:

    Toronto FC had the best offseason because they dumped Mo Johnston, Preki, and all the deadwood players… and brought in a bright Dutch coaching staff.

  54. Keith G. says:

    I have to say the Red Bulls, they went and improved the front line, midfield and deffense. The team finally has some real depth and I really do think that that have what it takes to win the Cup if everyone can stay healthy.

  55. mike m says:

    Davies is the big question. Before injury he was far better than every striker in the MLS (saying Donavan is a winger). After the injury, who knows?

    Timbers looks good on paper. But the league is a lot stronger the when Seattle came (a lot due to them). So it will be hard to any new team doing a lot of damage.

  56. Idaho Brian says:

    I feel that RSL should be in the conversation. Aside from retaining a very talented side, they signed their core group to extended contracts that should keep the team competetive for the forseable future. Additionally, they infused some new talent into the squad by getting Arturo Alvarez for next to nothing.

    For the position RSL was in, I don’t think they could have had a better off-season. Granted, it was not as significant a face lift as some other teams, but an impressive off season…

  57. chuck says:

    Ditto all that. Johnson in the back had better be stellar.

    Question: Is Andrew Hauptman the most incompetent owner in MLS? If not, who?

  58. JJ says:

    I never said any of them are a sure thing. I said “young talent”. We replaced older, expensive players with younger, less expensive players, who have much greater potential. The only thing that can be debated here is if the new guys have more potential than who we lost. That debate would be a short one.

    And how is Friberg a certainty? How much have you seen the kid play? If you’re going solely by what you’ve heard, why aren’t any of the others “sure things”? Everybody is the 2nd coming!

  59. JJ says:

    We win trophies.

  60. Robinswood says:

    AND got Hurtado (possibly the best CB in the league) and Evans (one of the more versatile mids) back in full health. A healthy Hurtado and Parke should be a very, very tough combination at CB.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that no one is seeing the huge non-changes changes the Sounders have made, literally squeezing every bit of value out of every single dollar. I’m stoked.

  61. MiamiAl says:

    If DC United can shore up that defense they could go all the way! I know everyone is excited about CD9 and Dax and Najar and future National keeper Bill Hamid, but somehow I think Josh Wolff could end up being a big contributor on this team. DC United is very familiar with him. How many times in the past, year in year out, did Wolff burn DC United for critical goals? His leadership will key. He just needs to stay healthy….I am predicting a big year out of Wolff (As crazy as that sounds!!!)

  62. GJJ says:

    I think that would make a wonderful topic for SBI.

  63. GJJ says:

    Ives, please do a piece on the organizational train wreck that is the Chicago Fire. Their front office moves have been horrid.

  64. Mike from Linden says:

    We can not forget the players they added from the academy(Kassel & Hot) who will challenge for starting positions.

  65. k says:

    Why is Portland even mentioned, you have to have a season before you can have an offseason.

  66. JoeW says:

    I voted for DCU but not b/c I’m a fan. Looking at this dispassionately, DCU was wretched last year. They had a huge amount of space to improve just to become competent. I’m not gonna argue that DCU makes the playoffs or wins it all–that depends on a lot of stuff we don’t know yet (like: CD9’s form, if Hamid returns healthy and sharp, how strong the defense is, team cohesion, if Boskovic is more influential this year). But DCU had the best offseason simply b/c they improved so much b/c they were so bad before.

    Second on this list would be a tie for RSL and RBNY. I think that resigning talent or locking it into long-term deals is nice but it’s hard to get excited about that. Both teams tinkered intelligently–adding a few key role players, some guys (like Rooney) who are potential wildcards. Generally standing pat is a mistake in MLS. But I think both of these teams (unlike their no too distant past) are actually well run now and model franchises who make very smart decisions about value (rather than inflating the worth of their players).

    Actually, I think the far more interesting question is: which team had the worst off-season? For me, that would be FCD followed by the Crew. I think both teams lost a lot of talent. It’s not clear to me that FCD has reloaded. And the Crew still appears to be a work in progress. I’d put Chicago third on this list–lots of holes to fill, a clearly substandard year and…what?

    I don’t buy that TFC had a good off-season. It is true that you can have addition through subtraction. But they didn’t handle the DeRo situation well and he’s critical to their offense–heck, he IS their offense.

  67. ChicagoDan says:

    Actually, Portland had a very exciting season last year.

  68. curmudgeon says:

    I think DC is a strong contender for most improved; but that doesn’t mean I think they’ll make the playoffs. They could improve an enormous amount and still not make the playoffs. And given the amount of youth and inexperience, and the time required to gel, I don’t think I expect DC to make the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have improved dramatically.

  69. Karl says:

    With the addition of Rooney how can NY not be on top of the list?

  70. MDD says:

    I think that Ben Olsen getting his first off season to help set up the team also figures into the equation. I am getting the impression that Ben Olsen is going to be a heck of a coach at the professional level.

    Who knows what will happen, but my guess is that DC United is going to be a team that nobody wants to play at the end of the season. Ben Olsen has a way of doing that kind of thing.

  71. boosted335 says:

    as if right now FCD has a team more than capable of repeating their 2010 performance AND they have a shitload of cash to aquire a star striker with weeks to go prior to the end of the offseason.

    How can they possibly have had the worst offseason??

  72. Primoone says:

    You can say that CD-9 skewed the numbers a bit…call it the Yao Ming factor. Also, taking into consideration the season that DC had, any type of personnel movement would greatly improve that piss-poor team…You throw in Olsen as the perma-coach and you can see why people get excited however, it doesnt translate into a successful season. I will be following them only to see najar and CD-9

  73. Hot tamale?.... in me mouth......? :/ says:

    I am not a huge fan of the 10-team playoff but it doesn’t seem so bad that seeds 7-10 have to compete for seeds # 7 and #8. Especially my team SKC has a better chance of making it (if they win enough).

  74. Barrett says:

    +1 I’ve been talking with my season tickets rep about exactly that – where the *&*(*& are the goals going to come from. Stolica and Perovic are certainly looking good together, but I’m not sure I see 20+ goals coming from them. And our midfield has always served balls up, rather than finish off balls the forwards lay back to them. So I don’t see 20 coming from them either. Which leaves us <40, which puts us in the same ballpark as last year (33 if I remember right). Argh!

  75. CJ says:

    you suck and we dont… we win trophies now… You used to…

  76. PDX_Pompey says:

    Too early to tell about the McCarty and Wallace deals. The money saved looks to have gone into more robust depth. Hopefully, some of the young hungry talent will come through. It’s a long season and higher caliber depth is important too.

  77. ron says:

    Support Grant Wahl to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of FIFA!!!

  78. timmytwoshoezzz says:

    Tough to argue that point

  79. Rainstreet says:

    Yes but usually on the bench in street clothes because he is hurt. Ben Olsen has a way of doing that kind of thing.

  80. georg says:

    Chivas much will get much better under a good coach,

    but RSL kept it together and made a couple additions to a team that was as good as any at the end of last season.

  81. corksoccer says:

    +1 go eagles (and Union!)

  82. scott723 says:

    I don’t think it has anything to do with Hauptman being incompetent. It has to do with Frank Klopas (and de los Cobos) being incompetent.

  83. DadRyan says:

    Holler back when you win one that rates a star on your bra strap jersey son. LOL.

  84. JoeW says:

    B/c as of right now, they haven’t acquired that star striker. They might go out and sign Messi and then we’ll be celebrating what a coup they pulled off. But as it stands right now, they subtracted a lot of parts and I don’t see much addition going on. And the thing to remember about MLS (though it’s been equalized a bit from where it was 5 years ago) is there are HUGE penalties for being successful. Drafting last is the least important. You play a LOT more games (one year DCU played 26 more games in competition than the last place team in MLS that same year). B/c you looked good (and players had a good season–kind of a pre-requisite in order to dominate like FCD did) everyone gets cap increases (and no-one takes salary cuts), you lose critical depth to expansion.

    It’s okay to turnover talent. Dumb teams mostly stand pat. Good teams always seek to upgrade and retool–even after a SS or MLS Cup. But right now, I don’t see FCD as having upgraded in talent (unless you want to argue that losing Pierce or McCarty was addition through subtraction). I expect FCD to start fast and look impressive. I also expect them to stumble badly with injuries and finish the year poorly. Unless they make some major talent additions that they currently haven’t done so far.

  85. Andrew says:

    I agree. RSL resigned every key player, and added a couple.

  86. Khill says:

    As a Union fan I’m happy with their moves. I think they might challenge for a playoff spot.

    Who has done the most? Probably DC…they’ve had no where to go but up though. I think they’ll be decent.

    As much as I don’t want to admit it, on paper NYRB have the best overall starting 11. They’re gonna be nasty if they stay healthy. I think they might win it all this year.