Welcome to Laminated, our weekly soccer predictions column inspired by, well, this tweet.
The first transfer window of the MLS season is officially closed, people. It didn’t exactly slam shut earlier this week. It was more of a soft, gentle close that involved several of us murmuring, “you’re done Nashville SC, put the phone down before you trade away any more of your attackers”.
There were some moves on deadline day, sure. But most teams kept their powder dry and roster flexibility intact for the summer transfer window, which opens on July 5. In this week’s edition of Laminated, we’re looking ahead to that next transfer window and predicting which teams will take some big swings in the summer.
Let’s get to it.
There’s going to be plenty of striker talk in this piece because, well, teams need strikers!
LAFC held off on signing a No. 9 during the Primary Transfer Window, even after they moved star striker Chicho Arango to Pachuca during the offseason. John Thorrington added depth across the backline and on the wing (I’m telling you now, it’s going to be in your best interest to get real familiar with Stipe Biuk and Mateusz Bogusz) in this window. But striker? That’s still something of a hole for LAFC.
Now, Steve Cherundolo is perfectly comfortable rolling out a flexible front three where one of Denis Bouanga, Kwadwo Opoku, or Carlos Vela will rotate into the middle at any given time. But LAFC lack a striker who can truly bring others into the game, either via strong hold-up play or through quick, selfless, and reliable one-touch combination play.
As the only undefeated team remaining in MLS, LAFC can clearly succeed without adding a No. 9. Still, it’s going under-the-radar that they’re only the eighth best team in MLS in terms of non-penalty xG per 90 minutes, according to FBref. With an open Designated Player spot, LAFC should make some sort of striker splash in the summer. Oh, and they should go out an sign one more quality central midfielder, regardless of whether Jose Cifuentes is still in town or not.