Silly season is nearly upon Major League Soccer, with the secondary transfer window opening on July 7. Last year saw multiple game-changers join the league, most notably Wayne Rooney‘s arrival at D.C. United and Raul Ruidiaz leaving Liga MX for the Seattle Sounders. Will the league see such impactful arrivals next month?
ESPN FC takes a look at some of the looming moves involving the comings and goings of not just MLS players and clubs, but U.S. internationals as well, in this MLS edition of Rumor Rater.
Mauro Manotas to Liga MX: 50 percent
It isn’t shocking that Manotas, a former Colombia U20 international, is getting tracked by clubs in Europe and South America. But it is an offer from Mexico that could see the player move south from Houston in the end.
ESPN FC has learned that Mexico City club Cruz Azul has been tracking Manotas for several months and rate the attacker. Sources say that Manotas could be a summer transfer window target for La Maquina and that he likely would require a transfer fee of more than $7 million.
One of the top strikers in MLS in the past two years, Manotas is having another tremendous season for the Houston Dynamo. In 13 matches, the 24-year-old has six goals and four assists, making him among the greatest snubs from this year’s All-Star team. His form has carried over from last season, when his 19 goals placed him among the top five scorers in the league. He has a historically solid strike rate, too, among his 110 league appearances with 41 goals and 11 assists.
Josh Sargent leaving Werder Bremen on loan: 15 percent
After making an instant impact for Werder Bremen last season, even scoring on his debut, playing time dried up for Sargent. The teenager, already a U.S. international, made just one appearance (coming off the bench) in the final nine games of the Bundesliga season.
Sargent is among a host of new, exciting faces for the United States and figures to be a major part of the national team moving forward. But he needs playing time, only he may not have to leave his Bremen in order to get it.
According to multiple sources, ESPN FC has learned that Werder Bremen plans on having Sargent with the first team for preseason and has no plans to loan out the young striker. The goal is for him to continue to fight for minutes and grow into a larger role this campaign.
Sargent isn’t going on loan, at least not at the outset, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if this position is evaluated by club and player during the Bundesliga’s winter break. Still, it is a good sign of his value to Bremen that he figures into the squad at the start of preseason and is projected to have a growing role this term.
Cristian Pavon to LA Galaxy: 45 percent
This could be a pivotal moment for MLS and the Galaxy as the interest in the Argentine international is real, according to one source. This move is big.
Rumors and speculation fueled some headlines a couple of weeks ago that Pavon could be headed to Los Angeles and join forces with former head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. It seemed worthy of skepticism given that Pavon is a star in Argentina, has 11 appearances for Argentina’s national team in the past two years and that the Galaxy already have three Designated Players on the roster — three tough obstacles to overcome.
But there are legs to this potential move. One source tells ESPN FC that there is still work to be done, but that the Galaxy and Pavon have had talks. Not only that but a move could happen this year, which likely means that the Galaxy would need to clear at least one Designated Player to make room for the signing. And the team is prepared to make that work, perhaps even this summer.
This one bears watching. It’s not a done deal, far from it, but both parties seem open. Lots of moving pieces make this a tricky transfer.
Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres to MLS: 40 percent
Still just 26 years old, Torres has struggled to find form and minutes since leaving the Houston Dynamo for Tijuana in 2017. With just two goals in 18 appearances across all competitions last year, call-ups to Mexico have stopped for the forward, and so a return to MLS — where he burst onto the scene with now-defunct Chivas USA in 2013 and 2014 — could revitalize his career.
According to one source, Torres could be on the move to MLS, and Tijuana is showing signs of willingness to move on from the striker. An MLS team would surely have some interest in Torres given that he scored 14 goals for the Houston Dynamo just two seasons ago and is very familiar with the league.
Erik Palmer-Brown to Union Berlin (on loan): 50 percent
Last week, rumors flew that 22-year-old U.S. international Palmer-Brown would go on loan to Juventus. This isn’t happening. It isn’t going to happen. It wasn’t ever going to happen.
Fresh off a season-long loan at NAC Breda in the Eredivisie, where he made 18 appearances, Palmer-Brown will be in search of playing time and stability this season. He won’t be getting the playing time with parent club Manchester City considering their impressive defensive depth, meaning a loan is certain.
Sources tell ESPN FC that Palmer-Brown could be headed to Union Berlin following their first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga. The source said that “Manchester City seems to be favoring” the German club as a landing spot, given the quality of the league and Union Berlin’s need for help along the back line.
In addition, Osasuna — fresh off a promotion to La Liga — has also shown interest in a loan, the source said, and Dutch outfit Heerenveen are interested as well. Both could be landing spots but right now, Union Berlin is in pole position.
Andre Rios to San Jose Earthquakes: 85 percent
This could be another interesting reclamation project for San Jose and head coach Matias Almeyda, who certainly has this organization pointed in the right direction.
Almeyda already has proven he has an eye for the right fit, making a savvy offseason loan of Cristian Espinoza from Villarreal. Espinoza has been a revelation in his first season in MLS, a player who few are talking about but is consistently turning in top performances.
In Rios, 29, a player capable of playing on the wing or up top, there is immense talent but he has found playing time hard to come by at Argentinian club Racing. Sources tell ESPN FC that a deal for Rios is progressing “and trending in the right direction.” There are reasons to feel good about this one.
A former Argentine U20 international, Rios has fallen out of favor in his home country and is eager for a move to be reunited with Almeyda, whom he played under at River Plate. It could be one of those under-the-radar moves that pays dividends given the system and talent around him.