It hasn't been the year that was expected by any means. With a six-game winning streak in the early part of the season, the playoff hopes were strong, proving the most active off-season in the club’s history was paying off. However, things aren't always as good as they appear, as a slew of injuries and other issues have derailed a very promising season.
The most recent move of Justin Meram back to Columbus has been disheartening. But it also can be a blessing in disguise for an organization that is still close to the playoffs in my opinion.
Currently, the Lions are only six points out of the playoffs with 11 matches to play. There is plenty of opportunity to put a run together and pull off the franchise’s first playoff appearance. The current climate may be bleak, but that doesn't mean the panic button needs to be hit.
The Meram move brought $750,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and it will be sorely needed to bring in new talent as I’d assume that resource was tapped out with moves for Sacha Kljestan, Josué Colmán, and others.
There are blatant holes in the lineup based on moves made by General Manager Niki Budalic but that doesn't mean everything is lost. I believe that only some minor tweaks are needed, not a full rebuild or a massive overhaul.
Both outside backs could be helped but left back is a priority. The left wing is a big hole as there is no one currently in the mold of a Meram suited for that spot. And then a second striker behind Dom Dwyer is an absolute need.
If I’m Budalic, I'm addressing at least one or two of these needs before the transfer window ends on Aug. 8. This is not the time to pack in, retreat, and just get through the season. The playoffs are still in sight and with the right moves, City can find some success.
So what are the moves that are available? I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, but I'm going to throw out a few MLS options via transfer or trade that I think could be great.
Look this a bit of a homer move for me, but I’ve followed Brooks since he's been 15 years old. The Real Salt Lake academy product has been a force in youth soccer and youth national teams for as long as I can remember. His move to Liverpool FC was unfortunately cut short but he has the talent to be in Europe.
He has the incredible pace and ability to be a terror on the left wing while also being a solid investment and he could easily move on two years from now for a healthy transfer fee. If he turns out to be an MLS star for 10 years though, this turns into a genius move.
Would RSL move on from him? Probably not, but for the right amount of TAM the move could be done.
The D.C. United midfielder most likely isn’t available considering the new move of Wayne Rooney, but considering the right package of nearly all of the TAM from the Meram trade, I think D.C. could be persuaded into some consideration.
The last place United aren't going anywhere anytime soon and one of their most valuable players could be available. City made a big splash for Dwyer, Meram, and Kljestan, so it doesn't preclude them from going after one of MLS’ youngest stars.
Arriola would fit in great as an exciting attacking option with room to grow. Is it likely? Probably not, but that hasn't stopped this organization before.
The Chicago Fire left back is one of the top 10 left backs in the league. An occasional United States Men’s National Team camp player, Vincent has all the tools to be a successful MLS staple as a top defender. With three assists and one goal already this season, Vincent shows he can be a great two-way player.
The Fire are currently in 10th and not in a great spot, so Vincent is one of their few assets for Orlando to make a move on. If City wants to upgrade the left back position, Vincent should be at the top of the list.
There are moves to be made and a season still to be had. Stefano Pinho is not the answer behind Dom Dwyer. Left wing is a miss. I think the back line when healthy is going to be fine.
But if management thinks it should just relax and see the season out then it will be making a big mistake. Be aggressive. B-E aggressive. This season isn't done and I’m sure the front office has a handle on better moves than I know. Here’s just hoping I'm right in that.