When the English Premier League and the rest of world soccer’s top European outfits kicked off in August, there were only days remaining for teams to add players, other than free agents.
From the beginning of September through the end of the calendar year, teams and their fans simply had to make do with the roster at hand. But then comes January, and with it, the fabled month-long transfer window.
But with only a handful of days remaining in the 2015 January window, the hype has mostly yet to materialize into significant signings, apart from Major League Soccer.
Sure, Real Madrid generated some buzz with the back-to-back signings of Norwegian youngster Martin Odegaard and 21-year-old Brazilian Lucas Silva, but the chances of the 16-year-old Odegaard or Silva making a difference in Los Blancos’ Champions League and La Liga runs are slim to none.
And yes, Fernando Torres is a huge name in the sport. But the loan swap that sent him to Atletico Madrid and Alessio Cerci back to Italy with A.C. Milan will hardly shake up the race for next season’s Ronaldo-Messi Trophy (technically known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or).
January has been full of wild rumors — it’s hard to believe Gareth Bale will actually be heading to Manchester United in this lifetime — and supposed bids for top talent, but so far there hasn’t been any key transfer that will truly change a title race.
Except for in North America, that is, and there’s a reason for that.
You see, MLS isn’t in season right now, and historically, the summer transfer window in Europe is far more active than January. Teams don’t typically make ground-breaking changes mid-season, but are more than willing to rebuild with months to prepare.
Top-to-bottom, MLS has seen numerous transfers that can take a team from playoff hopeful to a true title contender.
Take Toronto F.C. for example, which has made moves for Juventus and Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco — a recognizable name in European football who, at 28 years old, is still in his prime.
Toronto also swapped former England star Jermain Defoe for United States National Team striker Jozy Altidore, sure to please American fans and likely to spark Altidore’s struggling form.
Altidore wasn’t even the only USMNT star to return home, as Mix Diskerud signed with newly founded New York City F.C. on a free transfer and Maurice Edu made his stay permanent with the Philadelphia Union from Stoke City in England.
And to top it off, a former Ohio State Buckeye even found his way back to the U.S. as Honduras international Roger Espinoza returned to Sporting Kansas City from Wigan Athletic in the English League Championship.
From Giovinco and Altidore, who are internationally recognized, to solid MLS stars like Edu and Espinoza, the American league saw an influx of players this month that will strengthen top contenders like Kansas City, and make up-and-coming teams like Toronto look daunting on any MLS schedule.
So feel free to keep hyping up the transfer window over in Europe, but real impact moves will always — or, almost always — be made during the offseason.