Transfer window update: WTF MLS

Sometimes we just get the feeling that the folks over at Major League Soccer haven't quite mastered this whole transfer window thing. And who can blame them? With a rulebook that makes the New York City Administrative Code look like a bit of light reading, sometimes even the most experienced club executives don't know what they're getting out of a deal. After all, this is a league with its own exchange rates – that's right, do you know how much a dollar of GAM is worth in terms of TAM? Don't answer that. Anyway, a few transfers this winter have left us shaking our heads, and here's why.

Alan Pulido has arrived at Sporting Kansas City for somewhere around $10 million, which seems... excessive. Sporting is an old-fashioned club in the sense that Peter Vermes serves as head coach, manager, and sporting director (dare we add head of recruitment?). And Vermes has bet big on the Mexican striker, who's coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in our underlying metrics. Pulido has great ball retention but is weak in the air and only a slightly above average finisher for MLS. As you can see in the season-by-season comparison below, Pulido had trouble getting into the box and, as a result, getting shots off.

Pulido scored 12 last term in Mexico, but four were penalties, and he overachieved somewhat on the rest relative to the quality of his chances. Vermes undoubtedly has a plan for Pulido, but we're not convinced he merited a club-record fee – one Sporting may never recoup, given Pulido is already 28.

Yimmi Chara is something of a mystery, at least when it comes to his height. Listed at 1.62m in our data, 1.61m on Wikipedia, 1.69m on sofascore, and 1.79m on transfermarkt, it's anyone's guess how tall he is. What we do know is that he's excellent both ways in ground duels at an MLS standard, his ball retention is outstanding, and his attacking output is above average for MLS when he's on his game.

But it's been two seasons since Chara defended much, and now he's basically all about linking up the play; his ball retention is so good in part because he doesn't take many risks anymore. He'll turn 29 shortly after the 2020 MLS season begins, and he's already showing clasic signs of a winger who's slowing down. A mediocre finisher, he only returned three goals and one assist in about 1,400' this past season in the Brasilerao. MLS is easier, but will he really be worth $6m to the Portland Timbers? Maybe his older brother Diego (pictured above), who's been at the club since 2011, thinks so.

Luciano Acosta should never have been allowed to leave D.C. United on a free. He was arguably their most valuable asset after Wayne Rooney left – also on a free, though it may have suited the club not to pay Rooney big bucks well into his thirties. Acosta was almost on his way to Paris Saint-Germain a year ago, but the club apparently refused to sell for less than $10 million. And now, just a year later, Acosta has played out his contract and gone to Atlas for nothing. Here are his stats from the past few seasons at a Liga MX standard:

Acosta was probably having a sulk in 2019 after the move to Ligue 1 fell through, but in the two previous seasons – even without Rooney as his target man or strike partner – he was putting out attacking numbers that would have been magnificent for the Mexican league. A reinvigorated Acosta, probably with a big signing bonus in his pocket, might just set Liga MX on fire. He's still only 25!

[Photo: Ray Terrill]

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