Wiebe: Transfer deadline looms as MLS clubs look for missing pieces


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The clock is ticking. When the hour and minute hands hit 11:59 pm ET on Wednesday night, Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window will slam shut.

With a little more than 24 hours remaining until the deadline, now’s the time of year when MLS decision makers earn their paychecks – and chart the short- and long-term future of their respective clubs. The phone is ringing, texts are pouring in and paperwork is being jammed through as fast as technology allows. The pressure is on, and the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy is at stake.

And while plenty of deals are already over the finish line, the big question remains unanswered: Who will be 2017’s Garth Lagerwey and land the sort of player who helps inspire a playoff run (and perhaps even a trophy lift and victory parade)? Who will fill a hole – small or large – that allows their team to finally reach its lofty potential or just avoid disaster by making the playoffs? Who will beat the clock and change the course of league history in the process?

The folks at LAFC have already fired a (yet to be officially confirmed) shot across the league’s bow with reports that Mexican international Carlos Vela will join the expansion club in January. The Chicago Fire reaffirmed their MLS Cup aspirations by announcing David Accam won’t be going anywhere this summer. Crew SC, Orlando, and San Jose all dropped coin on Designated Players.

And, inevitably, there will be more moves before the close of the window on Wednesday, almost certainly a blockbuster or two. Hell, Lagerwey might even revive the Derlis Gonzalez transfer from the reportedly dead. Here are three that could take clubs from also-rans to contenders.

A starting FWD (and JVD replacement?) for LA

The Robbie Keane era feels like a long time ago. Those Galaxy teams didn’t hover below the playoff line in August, and LA find themselves facing a quiet November unless things turn around ASAP.

Jonathan Dos Santos was a good start (and may help revive brother Giovani’s form), but LA still need a fulcrum for the attack to revolve around with Gyasi Zardes pushed back to the wing and Jack McInerney more super sub than super signing.

Goals would be nice, but at this point Sigi Schmid might settle for good hold-up and combination play to open things up for Dos Santos (x2), Romain Alessandrini and Ema Boateng.

Wildcard: What happens if Jelle Van Damme decides he can’t bear a few more months away from him children back in Belgium? It’s a scenario LA must be ready to face head on, and the means of filling that hole (if a move home materializes for the big defender) may be closed if they don’t pull the trigger in this window.

Fresh blood at Stade Saputo

Matteo Mancosu’s role in the Impact’s run to the brink of MLS Cup was well documented. His return to role player this year has gotten significantly less attention. Anthony Jackson-Hamel has loads of potential (and five goals off the bench), but he isn’t yet ready to will Montreal to a playoff berth.

Unless Mancosu rediscovers the form that saw him bag seven goals and six assists in a tad more than 1,000 minutes last season, Montreal will struggle to challenge for anything more than a Knockout Round spot. Is that enough for owner Joey Saputo? A targeted signing up top could push the Impact over the hump.

Wildcard: More goals (and space for Nacho Piatti to operate) would be nice, but Montreal won’t go anywhere if their defensive record doesn’t improve as well. Sam Piette was a nice signing at defensive mid, but some more competition at center back could help push Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera to greater heights.

New home (and replacement) for Yura

I thought Yura Movsisyan would be a hit when he returned to Real Salt Lake. I thought a little tough love would get him going this year, too. Seems I was wrong on both accounts. It’s probably time for both parties to move on, if the financials make sense.

To make one thing clear: Even if RSL can find Movsisan a new home via loan or a permanent move in this window – they’ll won’t be bound by tomorrow’s deadline, in that case – Craig Waibel won’t be under pressure to find an immediate replacement. He’s probably better off taking his time, in fact.

But if there’s already a target in the hopper and the Claret-and-Cobalt can get it done, they can reasonably believe a playoff run could be in the cards. The rest of the pieces are there (and finally healthy). What’s missing is someone to consistently bang in the service arriving in the 18-yard box.

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What roster hole does your club need filled? Let us know in the comments section below, and remember clubs can still improve until rosters freeze for good on Sept. 15 as long as an ITC (International Transfer Certificate) isn’t changing hands.

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