With Major League Soccer’s international profile consistently rising, we have seen some truly historic names cross the Atlantic to ply their trade here, and last season was no different. World class talents like Gareth Bale, Lorenzo Insigne, and Giorgio Chiellini all made headlines when arriving, but so many more added to the overall quality of the league.
This year will be no different, with players from all over the world, as well as trades within MLS teams, the 2023 season has some new arrivals that you need to keep an eye on, and here are a few of them.
Josef Martinez - Striker
From: Atlanta United
To: Inter Miami
After saying goodbye to Gonzalo Higuain, who went off into the sunset of retirement, Miami has got their replacement in the form of the 2018 League MVP, All-Star Game MVP, Golden Boot Winner, and MLS Cup Final MVP Josef Martinez. While his split with Atlanta was anything but amicable, the Venezuela international appears to be as motivated as ever to rediscover his form.
Coming off ACL surgery and subsequent knee problems that have caused him to be out for more than 350 days in the last three years, Martinez scored fewer than ten goals for the first time in his MLS career last season. However, his arrival alongside attacking reinforcements like fellow MVP Alejandro Pozuelo, as well as Leonardo Campana from Premier League side Wolverhampton, could indicate the arrival of a dangerous new attacking trident in the league.
All three could merit getting their own insert on this list, but as the one with the most experience and the most to prove, Martinez will be feeling the pressure to perform immediately.
Aaron Long - Center Back
From: New York Red Bulls
To: Los Angeles FC
It takes a lot to snatch the starting role from a legend like Giorgio Chiellini, but a new signing like Aaron Long could very well do that. One of the most consistent defenders in MLS over the past few seasons with Red Bulls, the American earned a call-up to the World Cup squad this winter for good reason.
Despite not having played a single minute in the tournament, his inclusion along the likes of Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream was enough to make him one of the most sought-after free agents this off-season. He is also joining an already stacked LAFC side in the running to repeat as MLS Cup Champions.
Evander - Attacking Midfield
From: FC Midtjylland
To: Portland Timbers
After establishing one of the greatest modern MLS runs ever, the Portland Timbers’ age is finally starting to catch up with them after narrowly missing the playoffs last season. In response to that, they went out and signed one of the most exciting new arrivals this season in Evander. The Brazilian playmaker has consistently been one of the most creative players in Denmark’s Superliga for FC Midtjylland. In his five years with the club, he picked up 42 goals and added 32 assists, which is why Portland broke both the bank and their club record transfer fee while making him a Designated Player.
With club legends Diego Valeri retired and Sebastian Blanco showing his age at times, Evander is just the player to help right the ship and reinvigorate a Portland attack that struggled with inconsistency. His Superliga title and two Danish Cups also bring a winning mentality and experience to Portland.
Aaron Herrera - Right Back/Center Back
From: Real Salt Lake
To: CF Montreal
With the departure of Alistair Johnston to Celtic in Scotland, CF Montreal lost not only their best defender but one of the best in MLS. Being able to play both the right wing back position and slide into center back, Johnston was a pivotal piece of a team that ended up third in the Supporters Shield race. While searching for a replacement, Montreal decided on Aaron Herrera, who fits a very similar profile to Johnston and adds the energetic and effective presence the right channel was missing.
A proven entity with regards to a distribution and crossing ability from the right side, Herrera still needs to prove himself defensively as Montreal’s back line was prone to mistakes and goals against the run of play last season. After sending forward Joaquin Torres to Philadelphia in exchange for General Allocation Money, Montreal has essentially broken even with what they spent to bring in Herrera, which could result in him becoming one of the biggest bargains of the season.
Roman Burki - Goalkeeper
From: Borussia Dortmund
To: St Louis City SC
Anyone in MLS knows that good, consistent goalkeeping can make or break your season, and this is even more so the case with an expansion team. St Louis wasted no time, bringing in a keeper that automatically put the league on notice that they are not messing around during their inaugural season.
A veteran of seven years at the second biggest club in Germany, Burki has played on some of the biggest stages in the world, including the Champions League. He has also featured in the Swiss national team squad for two World Cups, as well as the 2016 UEFA European Championship.