Voices: Joseph Lowery

Which 5 clubs had the best Primary Transfer Window?


Goodbye, 2024 Primary Transfer Window.

We loved you. We also loved the roster reshuffling and frantic social media refreshing you brought us. Please come back again next year.

As of Tuesday evening, the MLS season's first (of two) transfer window ended. The Secondary Transfer Window should bring plenty more fun this summer, running from July 18 to August 14.

Now, a natural question emerges: Who used it best? Here are five clubs that stood out.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

Key additions

  • Luis Suárez, ST
  • Julian Gressel, CM
  • Nicolás Freire, CB
  • Federico Redondo, CM
  • Matías Rojas, AM
  • Marcelo Weigandt, RB

The jury is still out on Marcelo Weigandt as the DeAndre Yedlin replacement. But outside of the change at right back, Inter Miami knocked this transfer window out of the park. I mean, take a glance at the key additions up above…

Luis Suárez has been every bit as good as folks, erm, like me who watched him play for Grêmio in Brazil last year said he would be. With six goals and four primary assists in just over 600 minutes, the veteran striker has been virtually unstoppable playing alongside Lionel Messi. Julian Gressel has played more of his minutes as a central midfielder, rather than as a width-provider on the right, than I expected. But he’s grown into that role quite nicely.

Nicolás Freire is the clear starter at left-center back, and Federico Redondo will show his quality once he returns from injury (knee). Even the Yedlin trade should pay additional dividends beyond signing Weigandt on loan from Boca Juniors, as the club cited they’d gained “important roster flexibility” by sending him to FC Cincinnati. That helped bring in Paraguayan attacking midfielder Matías Rojas, whose profile suggests he'll be a key contributor.

What will Inter Miami look like when they're fully healthy? When (and if) they reach that point, no team in the league can match them for depth or top-end talent.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

Key additions

  • Emil Forsberg, AM
  • Noah Eile, CB
  • Sandro Schwarz, manager

I was exceedingly tempted to toss Luquinhas on that list as an addition-by-subtraction candidate, but I figured one atypical inclusion was enough in the form of Sandro Schwarz. The German manager has ushered in a new stylistic era for the New York Red Bulls. It still allows RBNY to go full-throttle in the press at times, yet includes more patient possession and a more selective drawing of their line of confrontation.

Schwarz has this team playing fun, effective soccer and I’m very much here for it.

Of course, coaches aren’t the ones playing the actual games, so we have to give a big chunk of credit for the Red Bulls’ strong start to new DP Emil Forsberg. The 32-year-old is the versatile playmaker this team has needed ever since Kaku left, providing a mixture of through-ball-threading brilliance and deadly goal threat. It still feels like there’s another level or two for the ex-RB Leipzig star to unlock, which should be a scary thought for opposing defenders.

One final clever piece of business by RBNY was snagging center back Noah Eile from Malmö FF. The 21-year-old Swede has room to grow, but he’s got a wand of a right foot and straight-up changes games on the ball.

The Red Bulls are so obviously stronger than they were in 2023, and they look like a real trophy threat right now.

Key additions

  • Bartosz Slisz, CM
  • Stian Gregersen, CB

Atlanta United identified their big offseason needs, entered the transfer market, and came away with those needs filled. Sure, there’s still a bit of a worry in goal – the club signed Josh Cohen to provide competition for Brad Guzan, who struggled last year to the tune of allowing five goals more than expected, per FBref. But Guzan has been solid in 2024.

The real upgrades came in the spine, with Polish international Bartosz Slisz joining from Legia Warsaw and Norwegian international Stian Gregersen arriving from Bordeaux.

Gregersen has played just three games due to injury, but looked largely assured in his starting role to begin the year. Slisz, meanwhile, is a clear upgrade over Matheus Rossetto and whoever else the club used in their double pivot last year, outside of Tristan Muyumba. A do-it-all central midfielder, Slisz can progress play with his dribbling and passing. He’s also a useful defender.

There’s plenty of work left for the Five Stripes re: their actual performances. Not doing stuff like this should, uh, help as the season continues:

But with a legit foundation to support the attack, Atlanta United are closer to contention than they’ve been in five years.

Key additions

  • Joseph Paintsil, W
  • Gabriel Pec, W
  • Miki Yamane, RB

With GM Will Kuntz running the front office, the LA Galaxy made some serious, big-boy moves over the winter.

They now have the best trio of “P”s MLS has ever seen, with Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec joining Riqui Puig. Somehow slightly more important than their alphabetical symmetry is everything in the attack fits so snugly.

Paintsil, with his blistering speed on the right wing, has been a frequent benefit of Puig’s classy through balls. I posted this bit of Paintsil appreciation more than a month ago and still completely stand by the idea he’s in the “best MLS player not named Messi” conversation:

The Ghanaian international has been the best winger in MLS this year and can be unplayable.

Pec has taken a little longer to settle, but the Brazilian youth international is showing a diverse skillset of effective one-v-one dribbling, goal threat, and sharp off-ball movement. Greg Vanney can toss Pec and Paintsil on the same wing, like he did in a 3-1 win at Vancouver. Or he can split them apart, like he did in last weekend's 4-3 win over San Jose. Either way, they cause huge problems for opposing defenses.

With Japanese international Miki Yamane hanging back on the right side of the defense to provide proper spacing and balance, the Galaxy have the right blend of everything in the attack. The defense needs some major TLC, but this version of LA is better than any we’ve seen in a long, long time.

Key additions

  • Miles Robinson, CB
  • Pavel Bucha, CM
  • Luca Orellano, LWB
  • DeAndre Yedlin, RWB
  • Kevin Kelsy, ST

Up until now, all four teams we’ve spotlighted are ones I believe have improved from 2023 to 2024. That’s what the transfer window is for, right? To help you improve?

Well, things look a bit different in FC Cincinnati’s case because I think they will be worse than last year. To be clear, I still think they'll be among the absolute best in the Eastern Conference. To go through the sheer amount of top-end roster turnover they did over the offseason while still being third in the East through Matchday 10 is crazy impressive (kudos to GM Chris Albright).

While Cincinnati didn’t get better in this window, they did a remarkable job absorbing the drop that comes with losing five starters from a Supporters' Shield-winning team, especially players like Brandon Vazquez and Álvaro Barreal. Luca Orellano is looking more dangerous by the game at left wingback. Yedlin is an upgrade on the right side of the defense. The same goes for Miles Robinson and Pavel Bucha at center back and central midfield, respectively.

The wildcard is 19-year-old Kevin Kelsy, who's set to arrive from Shakhtar Donetsk. It’s foolish to expect a ton from the young Venezuelan striker, but Cincy badly need someone to liberate Aaron Boupendza in Pat Noonan’s 3-4-1-2 shape. Without Vazquez bodying defenders to create space for him, Boupendza has looked more pedestrian than he did at any point in 2023. Kelsy should help with that. Physically, he’s a real threat already. But technically? He’s got a ways to go.

It might take a huge season for Kelsy or someone else to get Cincy back to their 2024 heights. But FC Cincinnati will be in line for home-field advantage in Round One of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs when all is said and done. That, all on its own, is a win.