By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Feb 6, 2023) US Soccer Players – The start of a new Major League Soccer season is very close and teams continue to train on the field and make player deals off of it. Like every winter, teams use the time between the final whistle at the MLS Cup Final to the days leading up to the start of a new season, either rebuilding or solidifying rosters. This annual ritual may be the same, but the players change. The hard work of building a competitive team begins with technical staffs and front office personnel.
While the European transfer window closed last week, MLS teams have two windows in 2023 where they can buy and sell players. The primary transfer window started on January 31 and will run through April 24. A secondary window takes place in the summer between July 5 and August 2.
Some big names have already left MLS, including LAFC’s Cristian Arango, who moved to Liga MX club Puebla, and Austin FC’s Tomas Pochettino, who signed with Brazil’s Fortaleza. With a new season kicking off on February 25, here are the five biggest moves of this winter and what it means for the players and teams involved.
Alex Gersbach (Colorado Rapids)
The left back and Australian international arrives in Colorado after two years at French second division club Grenoble. At international level, Gersbach has made five appearances for Australia, including in World Cup Qualifying and the Confederations Cup, both in 2017. The Rapids, who spent much of the winter rebuilding its defense, will get a defender who is very strong along the flank, a helpful offensive tool. Colorado was in need of a starting left back, putting Gersbach in position to help the Rapids succeed.
Josef Martinez (Inter Miami)
One of the most talented and talked about strikers in the league, Martinez is now a member of Inter Miami after his time at Atlanta United. The signing is a major move for Miami, with Martinez a formidable player since arriving in MLS in 2017. The 29-year-old striker scored 103 goals and 17 assists in 144 regular season and playoff games over the course of six seasons. The striker suffered a setback last season when he was sidelined for two months after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Despite that, he still finished 2022 with nine goals. With Gonzalo Higuain retiring at the end of last season, Martinez’s arrival certainly puts Inter Miami in the best position for building in 2023.
Gyasi Zardes (Austin FC)
Austin gets a proven goal scorer who could work well in coach Josh Wolff’s system. The 31-year-old forward has often been underestimated. The league’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2018, Zardes scored nine goals in 26 MLS games last season. He can play on the wings or as a center forward. His speed and athleticism make him a magnificent striker and the type of player who can replace Felipe Martins and Jared Stroud, who both left Austin FC over the winter. If Austin wants to win a title this season, then adding a two-time MLS Cup winner (with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2014 and Columbus Crew in 2020) is how to add experience to the roster.
Sean Johnson (Toronto FC)
The goalkeeper leaves New York City FC and heads north to Eastern Conference side Toronto FC. Bob Bradley’s team went through a rebuilding phase halfway through last season, but it wasn’t enough to get them into the postseason. In 2023, Toronto FC embarks on a fresh start. The 33-year-old Johnson provides the team with an experienced goalkeeper who helped NYCFC win MLS Cup in 2021. Having a veteran in goal is key for any team looking to win a championship, and Toronto FC certainly has that much-needed piece now secured.
Nicholas Gioacchini (St Louis City SC)
Like past MLS expansion teams, St Louis City has made a number of big announcements over the past few months as part of what it takes to build a roster from nothing. That includes adding Gioacchini. The 22-year-old striker played in Europe for French sides Paris FC, Caen, and Montpellier before joining Orlando City SC last July. Gioacchini already has eight appearances for the USMNT, another exciting part of a season of many firsts for St Louis in 2023.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of the new book “The FIFA World Cup: A History of the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event.”
More from Clemente Lisi:
- The goalkeeping pool, MLS talent, and building atmosphere from the January USMNT friendlies
- As expected, the 2023 January camp highlights new players and MLS
- St Louis City gets the MLS expansion focus in 2023
- What the World Cup showed club teams about the 5-3-2 formation
Photo by Wilf Thorne – ISIPhotos.com