Six reasons why this was the most exciting MLS transfer window ever

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Frugal clubs opened their wallets and average teams upgraded. Finally, it felt like a real transfer window.

6. Finally, some buzz! Silly season how it’s meant to be

Before we get into any particular team, let’s just appreciate the secondary window. There were teams that went desperate, overpaying and making some head-scratching moves, but who cares? This is what you want out of a transfer window. Maybe it’s finally showing that some teams and some general managers and coaches are feeling legitimate pressure.

Did it make sense for New England to spend $350,000 to move up in the allocation order and add another attacking piece? No. And especially not when the best move might be to blow up a roster that just hasn’t worked. But maybe general manager Mike Burns and head coach Jay Heaps understand that they needed to do something to try to salvage this season. I don’t love their solution, but they made a move and didn’t sit on their hands.

Did Minnesota United overpay for Ethan Finlay? Yes. But the Loons are scrambling to fix a roster that is going to continue to need major work in the next few windows.

Did D.C. United overpay for Paul Arriola? Yes. A $3 million transfer fee is huge and $1 million makes him one of the higher-paid Americans in MLS. But Arriola absolutely can be a difference-maker in MLS, and GM Dave Kasper finally had cash to spend with his team sitting in last place. He had the green light to do something and he did it. I’m not going to complain about that.

I don’t love every move of the window. I don’t understand what some of the teams were thinking and how they see their teams fitting together in the present and the future. But this was a win for buzz around the league, and that’s something MLS desperately needs.  

5. Orlando City tries to save 2017

This is going to be a theme here, but yes, Orlando City did overpay for Dom Dwyer. And you know what? It’s a secondary concern if you’re a fan.

General managers around the league will look at Orlando City and say they have a lot of financial hoops to navigate in the next couple windows. The expenditures in Targeted Allocation Money for Dwyer make it difficult for Orlando City to be flexible, depending on the amount of money added to the pot in 2018. There’s work to be done to make Orlando City a long-term winner.

But let’s take off the GM hat and set aside the budget talk and look at it purely from a fan perspective, and that means the right now. Orlando City has never reached the playoffs despite trumpeting those goals. The front office has blown up plans in the past because of that. It has a team that has won just twice since the start of May. Dwyer is a needed goal-scorer, especially with the possible sale of Cyle Larin looming.

Something had to be done.

I really like Yoshi Yotun for this midfield. Orlando needed another player who could distribute and create, but also had the work rate to fit into the diamond midfield. Pairing a player like this with Cristian Higuita might just start to accentuate the latter’s skillset.

With the Dillon-Powers-for-Luis-Gil trade going through at the deadline, Orlando City moved a player who hasn’t helped for a player who just might. It’s a risk, but Powers is another option who can make the final pass for Orlando – 26 assists in five seasons isn’t too bad – and if he can get back to 2013-14 form it’s even better. The key is going to be health, and then how that salary number is managed in future seasons.

From a long-term, bird’s-eye view, this window amounted to a big budgetary risk for Orlando City, and it likely will be followed by some sales and cuts in the winter window to make all the pieces fit together. From an on-field perspective, though, Orlando City added some pieces that can make it better. Was it enough? We’ll see. At least there’s an effort.

4. Atlanta is going for it in year one

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We can all appreciate the fact that Atlanta United has been the expansion team setting the bar for ambition.

There was a lot of hype about Orlando City and New York City FC, and how they might be the next Seattle Sounders. Orlando put together one of the better expansion teams since Seattle, but chose not to build off of that. NYCFC also opted to hit the reset button and now looks like a potential contender. Atlanta came wanted immediate success, and it showed again in this window.

Defender Bobby Boswell is not an MLS superstar. He is likely not even a starter for Atlanta. What he is, though, is a savvy veteran pick-up to add much-needed depth at a key position ahead of the playoffs. It’s the type of move that screams, ‘We’re all in.’ In Year One, Atlanta United essentially announced to the league that it is going for it. Again. How can you not love that?

It may not work. Atlanta probably needed a touch more depth at fullback. But this team is certainly talented enough to compete in the playoffs, and we all know it’s just about getting there and then making some noise. Atlanta wanted to make sure it had everything in place to do just that.

NEXT: Crew beasts everyone, LAFC’s big capture, D.C. finally spends