MLS trade deadline: Assessing Ramirez to LAFC, Acosta to Colorado
The MLS trade deadline has come and gone and with it, a number of moves that attracted attention throughout the league including a pair of homecomings for fan favorites in Kansas City and Columbus.
Let's have a look at the notable moves made in the league in the days and weeks leading up to Wednesday's trade deadline.
Christian Ramirez to Los Angeles FC
On the surface, this looked like an unnecessary move made by the MLS rookies, who were thought to be in the mix for a defensive midfielder and not a forward. With Marco Urena and Adama Diomande in the ranks, head coach Bob Bradley now has three strikers from which to choose.
Ramirez has shown in a season-and-a-half that his prolific scoring return in the NASL was no fluke. His penchant for scoring resulted in 21 goals in 50 matches for Minnesota United, and LAFC will benefit from having that kind of predator who can use his smarts and size to bang in goals from inside the area.
It's not a stretch to imagine Ramirez benefiting greatly from the playmaking wizardry of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, or via the speed and movement of Latif Blessing. He'll push for a starting spot and could be thrown into the mix right away considering that Diomande is dealing with a hamstring injury and Urena has fallen out of favor.
In return for the L.A. native, Minnesota receive up to $1 million in allocation money, which head coach Adrian Heath can use to shore up a defense that has given up 46 goals this season.
Ramirez will forever be remembered by the fans in Minnesota, and rightly so for scoring the team's first goal in MLS among many other things, but now duty calls in L.A. for Ramirez, who adds substantial depth to an already dangerous attack.
Kellyn Acosta to the Colorado Rapids
While this deal went down more than two weeks ago, it is still jarring to see Acosta in a Rapids uniform. The midfielder was so closely identified with FC Dallas that it was a shock to see him pack his bags. Upon further inspection though, things had not been going well for Acosta in the past year. A drop in form mirrored FC Dallas' late season collapse and an injury to start 2018 meant inconsistent minutes this season.
The sample size of Acosta in Colorado is still small (just two games) but it is certainly promising. He already has two goals in his new digs and appears to be relishing his role in Colorado's change to a 4-4-2 formation from the 3-5-2 that head coach Anthony Hudson had originally implemented.
More than anything, onlookers are seeing a confidence in Acosta that had been sorely lacking. Remember the swagger he showed in swinging in a free kick against Pachuca in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal? That's the Acosta who'd been missing in Frisco but has been rediscovered in Colorado.
As for the Texans, Dominique Badji was the man sent in exchange for Acosta. Badji gives FC Dallas some much needed depth and speed at striker, a player who can complement the crafty Maximiliano Urruti. With Chile playmaker Pablo Aranguiz now in the mix, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja should not have to worry about a second-half collapse.
Krisztian Nemeth to Sporting Kansas City
It was no secret that the New England Revolution were keen to unload Nemeth as early as this past spring after acquiring him last season. The Hungary international never won over new boss Brad Friedel, so finally a deal was made this week to send Nemeth to Sporting Kansas City for $350,000 in allocation money.
For the 29-year-old forward, this will be a warm homecoming. Nemeth had one of the best seasons of his globetrotting career when he scored 10 goals and had six assists in 28 matches with Sporting Kansas City in 2015 before packing his bags for Qatar in 2016. Ever since they traded away Dom Dwyer last July, Sporting Kansas City have tried to paper over their gaps up front. Fanendo Adi and Christian Ramirez were the names bandied about but in the end, head coach Peter Vermes wanted a familiar face.
It will be interesting to see how Nemeth fares playing as a No.9 in MLS. In his previous stint he played mostly out on the wings, but Vermes seems optimistic that he can get the same kind of return -- or even better -- from Nemeth as he did in 2015. Nemeth's days at Roda in the Dutch Eredivisie shows he has the finishing ability and physicality to be just fine playing in the central striking role.
Justin Meram to Columbus Crew SC
It's almost as if he never left. Meram returns to Columbus from Orlando City just six months after he requested a trade away from the Crew. Things never worked out for Meram in central Florida: he scored just one goal and didn't even see a minute of action in five of the last six league matches. The winger returns to Columbus in exchange for $750,000 in allocation money, $300,000 less than what Orlando paid for him earlier this year.
Probably no one will be happier -- head coach Gregg Berhalter aside -- to see Meram back in a Columbus shirt than midfielder Federico Higuain. The two formed quite the duo ever since the Argentine arrived to Ohio in the middle of the 2012 season, especially 2017 when Meram banged in 13 goals and had seven assists.
Out of all the teams currently in playoff position, no one has fewer goals than the Crew (30): the Montreal Impact also have 30 goals this season. The return of Meram will provide both a lift in the locker room and a spark on the field.