Analysis

Who's getting shipped out? 3 contenders for big MLS offseason trades

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Silly season is about to kick off in MLS, and trades are sure to happen. Here's a few leading suspects.

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It’s a weird time of year to work in an MLS front office.

As the Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC prepare for the conference championships, the rest of the league is caught in a strange limbo. Coaches, general managers and technical directors can talk, plan, scout and strategize, but until the trade window opens for a few hours on the morning after MLS Cup, they can’t actually make moves.

Their hands might be tied, but the rest of us are free to look ahead to what should be a busy offseason.

With LAFC coming into the league, the expansion draft set for Dec. 12 and plenty of new coaches getting settled with their new squads, we should see plenty of action in the MLS trade market.

Here are a few names that could be on the move once the offseason kicks into full swing:

Front six, New England Revolution

Sources around the league have no doubt that new head coach Brad Friedel will shake up New England’s overcrowded front six. The only question is who the first-year manager will look to move.

There’s no shortage of attractive candidates. Forwards Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo, playmaker Lee Nguyen, wingers Teal Bunbury and Krisztian Nemeth and midfielders Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, Xavier Kouassi, Scott Caldwell and Gershon Koffie all have value, and all likely feel that they should be full-time starters. Nguyen was the only member of that group to play every week in 2017, however.

Limited minutes usually lead to disgruntled players, and at least a few of that group will probably be looking for a fresh start. With plenty of depth in the attack and the Revs needing another rebuild in the back, Friedel will likely be happy to oblige. Word is he’s still working through who he wants to keep around, but expect at least one of those bigger names to leave Gillette Stadium this winter.

What makes sense? FC Dallas could certainly use another striker, especially with Maxi Urruti going public with his disappointment about not being transferred to San Lorenzo midseason. Conventional wisdom would dictate New England shop the older, more expensive Kamara (whose contract option is up), but don’t be shocked to see Agudelo move. He’d be a really interesting fit for FCD.

Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia Union

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After a very solid rookie campaign, Rosenberry took a huge step back this year. The 23-year-old right back started every game in 2016 but appeared in just 14 league matches as the Union endured a tough 2017.

He lost his starting job in April and didn’t return to the XI until late-August, then got himself suspended for Philly’s final game of the year thanks to an ill-advised tweet. The Union picked up his contract option for 2018, but that may have been to maintain his rights for an eventual trade. It’s not hard to imagine him being shipped out of Pennsylvania this winter.

What makes sense? The LA Galaxy started Gyasi Zardes at right back a couple times down the stretch. Sigi Schmid might want a new fullback for his rebuild. Rosenberry could be a nice complimentary piece, especially with Robbie Rogers retiring.

Miguel Ibarra, Minnesota United

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NASL MVP didn’t really take in his return to Minnesota following two years in Liga MX, registering just three goals and four assists in 29 regular-season appearances in 2017, only 20 of which were starts. Ibarra struggled early after not playing much in two years with Club Leon, then he was bumped down the pecking order by the summertime arrivals of wingers Ethan Finlay and Sam Nicholson.

The 27-year-old only started six times from July on and has been the subject of trade rumors already this winter. A well-placed source said the Loons haven’t received any offers for Ibarra just yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising if “Batman” gets dealt.

What makes sense? Chris Pontius is a free agent and won’t be re-signing with Philadelphia. The Union could use a solid two-way winger with something to prove in their attack, and Ibarra would fit the bill.

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