10 Interesting Free Agents Who Are Still Available

In no particular order, I discuss 10 realistically available MLS free agents.


With the new CBA rules regarding MLS free agents, the list of available players has gotten larger in size and in quality. As we enter the new year, I look at 10 intriguing free agent options that are still available.



 


1. Felipe Martins


Age: 31 years old

Previous Salary: $150,000 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CM


A player of Martins’ league experience, quality, international status, and salary should not still be available, yet he is. Martins is a two-way central midfielder whose biggest asset is his creative passing. The Brazilian was among the league leaders in completed through balls per 90, live shot-creating passes per 90, and goal-creating actions per 90. That being said, he still contributes defensively when called upon.


His age and recent ACL tear in September 2020 will definitely be a factor going into negotiations, but I think he would be a strong addition to any midfield looking to win trophies. Maybe not as the starter but as a quality rotation option. One last thing to think about is DC United did decline his option last year but re-signed him in late January. That may happen again.


Possible Teams: Sporting KC, DC United, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City, Nashville SC


2. Ilie Sanchez


Age: 31 years old

Previous Salary: $1,000,000 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CDM


Another player who brings a lot in the passing department, Ilie Sanchez would be a quality addition to any team in the league. This past season was a major success for him as SKC’s build-up play clearly ran through him. He was amongst the league leaders in almost every single passing category on a per 90 basis. Any team looking to have a possession-based style of play should be looking Sanchez’s way.


Sanchez’s salary requirements will obviously be a big talking point in negotiations with him. It does make me wonder if SKC wants him back but on a lesser salary. That being said, they did sign free agent Uri Rosell who is a similar style of player to Sanchez but at a much cheaper salary.


Possible Teams: Chicago Fire, LA Galaxy (I know the rumor was fake, but it still makes sense), Austin FC, Toronto FC, FC Dallas


3. Sean Davis


Age: 28 years old

Previous Salary: $402,500 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CDM


The New York Red Bulls captain played his cards perfectly. Coming off another strong season, where he played every minute, he allows his contract to expire to start a bidding war for his services. And there should be. Davis is the prototype of what every coach should want in their midfield. He has a high defensive work rate, he's athletic, he wins tackles and interceptions, he knows how to pass a ball, and he has a leader mentality. The man is a unicorn.


Heading into his prime and with the CV to back it up, Davis will be looking for a hefty pay package. This is not meant as a negative but more as an explanation of his situation. It will be his last big contract and he should be looking for that wage. He will bring a lot to any team, no matter the style of play.


Possible Teams: Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City, Vancouver Whitecaps, DC United


4. Raheem Edwards


Age: 26 years old

Previous Salary: $96,375 guaranteed

International Status: International

Position: LW/LWB/CAM


At only 26 years old, Raheem Edwards has already been an MLS journeyman of sorts. The versatile Canadian has already played for Toronto FC, CF Montreal, Chicago Fire, Minnesota United, and LAFC. While he’s not a player who will come in and set the world alight, I do think Edwards is a quality option to have in the squad. He’s a hard-working player who can be trusted to start games in many different positions. He’s started at least one game at LB, LWB, LW, RW, RB, CM, CF, and CAM across his career.


An interesting aspect to Edwards’ situation at the moment is how Bob Bradley used him at the end of this past season. Bradley used him as a floating CAM in a 3-4-1-2 in their 3-0 win over Seattle and I thought he had an impressive game. He had 1 assist, 6 shot-creating actions, 8 progressive passes, 4 tackles, and 2 interceptions. It would be a huge punt to bring him in as an option for that specific role based on one performance but it’s certainly an interesting development to his already versatile portfolio. Teams looking for a versatile backup should be looking his way. The only hold-up is his international status.


Possible Teams: Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York Red Bulls


5. Juan Agudelo


Age: 29 years old

Previous Salary: $212,500 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CF/LW/RW


Another MLS journeyman, Agudelo has played for New York Red Bulls, Chivas USA, New England Revolution, Inter Miami, and Minnesota United. Agudelo is a decent forward who tends to perform in and around his xG. This season he did underperform but he was only given 245 minutes of playing time and started 1 match all year.


In my opinion, Agudelo performs best as a second striker. He’s not a player who does well when isolated against an opponent but rather is good at finding space in the box to hurt teams. This is why he doesn’t contribute much as a winger. Pairing him with a striker who takes up the attention of the CBs would allow him to do the most damage. I think any team with a system that utilizes a second striker should be looking his way.


Possible Teams: Nashville SC, Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution, Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Dallas


6. Donny Toia


Age: 29 years old

Previous Salary: $205,000 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: LB


Another MLS veteran makes the list in LB Donny Toia. Two stints at RSL sandwiched by time spent at Chivas USA, CF Montreal, and Orlando City. The American is by no means a superstar left-back but is extremely capable of coming in and doing a job.


Toia does his best work in a 4-back system where he is not expected to be an attacking option. He will sit in his pocket of space on the left side and do his job: block passes, delay transitions, make tackles, and win headers (he’s surprisingly good in the air). Any team in need of a reliable backup LB should be looking his way.


Possible Teams: Philadelphia Union, Minnesota United, Chicago Fire, Austin FC, FC Dallas


7. Jordy Delem


Age: 28 years old

Previous Salary: $194,000 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CDM


Long-time Seattle Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem had his option declined after only being able to play 35 minutes this season due to an ACL injury in early May. A good squad option at only 28 years old, the Martinique-born midfielder has plenty of years left in him.


As a midfielder, his main role should be to come on and close games out defensively. He’s not good in possession but knows how to win the ball back and be in the right spot to block a shot or clear a dangerous ball. Any team looking for that profile of player might well take a punt on the former Sounder.


Possible Teams: LAFC, LA Galaxy, FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, DC United


8. Eriq Zavaleta


Age: 29 years old

Previous Salary: $115,503 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CB


After 7 long years with Toronto FC, and only one where he played more than 1,500 minutes (which just so happens to be 2017, aka their best one), Eriq Zavaleta is a free agent. Zavaleta is a quality right-sided CB who doesn’t let players get past him. His defensive positioning and the way he approaches his opponent helps him to be one of the league leaders in successful pressure % per 90. From what I’ve seen, he is a good CB for a front-footed style of play. Zavaleta is capable of defending in the midfield and could be trusted in a system with a high defensive line.


Zavaleta does have the tendency to make errors that lead to dangerous situations so that may be a turn-off for many teams, but I think the good outweighs the bad in this situation. At a very affordable salary and no international slot necessary, Zavaleta could be a good pickup for teams looking to find a cheap way to improve their backline.


Possible Teams: Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders, CF Montreal, FC Dallas, San Jose Earthquakes


9. Andy Rose


Age: 31 years old

Previous Salary: $132,000 guaranteed

International Status: Non-International

Position: CB/CDM


A player who played most of his career as a defensive midfielder, Andy Rose has quickly turned into the prototypical center of a back 3 CB. Good at keeping possession, good at blocking shots, and good at not getting dribbled past, Rose did well at the back this season.


Teams looking for a cheap, experienced, and versatile player should look no further. For me, the center of a 3-back system is his best bet for prolonging his career. Will other teams agree?


Possible Teams: DC United, Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, CF Montreal, Real Salt Lake


10. Tsubasa Endoh


Age: 28 years old

Previous Salary: $105,333 guaranteed

International Status: International

Position: RW/LW


Tsubasa Endoh is one of the most defensive wingers you will ever watch. He has been strictly used to play defense in forward areas, and for good reason. Endoh consistently exceeds in his role. For his position, you can always find him near or at the top of the charts in pressures per 90, interceptions per 90, and tackles won per 90 in his position.

Any team looking for a hard-working pressing winger should look no further than Endoh… if they have the international slot available. That is Endoh’s one big drawback. Any team he goes to is going to have to use a coveted international slot on a player who most likely won’t be starting for them. That being said, he’s been in the league since 2016 so maybe one is already in the works. We shall see.


Possible Teams: FC Cincinnati, Houston Dynamo, Columbus Crew, Minnesota United, Seattle Sounders