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Suarez, Forsberg, de la Vega: Biggest newcomers for the 2024 MLS season | MLSSoccer.com

Suarez, Forsberg, de la Vega: Biggest newcomers for the 2024 MLS season | MLSSoccer.com

MLS is Back, and there are plenty of new faces.

As you get settled for the 2024 season, whether that’s watching in stadiums or via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, some new stars are in the league.

We’ve spotlighted the biggest ones you should watch for, led by a certain generational talent known around the globe.

Now, there are valid questions about how much the iconic Uruguayan striker still has in the tank (well-chronicled knee concerns). But he was incredible for Grêmio last year, finishing with 26g/17a while earning Best Striker and Best Player honors in Brazil’s Serie A.

If you were to set the over/under at 14.5 goals for Suárez this season, I’d take the over.

I tend to agree with Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle when he called Emil Forsberg “the biggest signing RBNY have made since the Thierry Henry/Rafa Márquez/Tim Cahill era.”

Forsberg has the No. 10 shirt and captain’s armband for the Red Bulls, a clear statement of the expectations placed upon him.

The Sweden international joined from RB Leipzig, their sister side in the German Bundesliga, where he was still producing at a high level. As it stands, Forsberg is my early MLS Newcomer of the Year pick.

Luis Muriel is Orlando‘s third DP, joining Martín Ojeda and Facundo Torres in that category. The Colombian international arrives from Italian Serie A side Atalanta, where his chance-creation and goalscoring track record was impressive.

The funky part: Orlando thought they were sending Duncan McGuire on loan to English Championship side Blackburn Rovers, but that deal fell through due to administrative issues. So, for the time being, the club’s left with two high-end strikers.

If he stays healthy, Muriel could feasibly score 15-plus goals for the Lions.

After starring for boyhood side Lanús, de la Vega is now one of the Sounders‘ most-expensive signings in club history (reported $7.5 million). He also carries a Young DP tag, filling the slot vacated by the legendary Nico Lodeiro (who’s now playing for Orlando).

Look for de la Vega to play on the left wing, eliminating defenders off the dribble while creating chances for the likes of Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz. He’s got some goalscoring instincts, too.

If de la Vega hits the ground running, he feasibly could earn a second trip to the Olympics with Argentina. The Paris 2024 games are set for late July and early August.

FC Dallas made a transfer-market splash to kick off February, formally signing Petar Musa for a club-record fee (reportedly $9.7 million that could rise to $13 million with add-ons). That surpasses the reported near-$7 million fee FCD spent two seasons ago to land Alan Velasco from Independiente in his native Argentina.

The 25-year-old Croatian international striker arrives from Portuguese powerhouse side Benfica, forming a one-two punch with Jesús Ferreira that allows the US international to play more as a second forward.

Can Musa be a Golden Boot candidate in Year One? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Are the Fire on the up and up? At the very least, they’re making waves in the transfer market.

Chicago spent a reported $12 million (could reach $14 million) to acquire Cuypers from Belgian top-flight side KAA Gent. That’s a top-five figure in MLS history.

Cuypers won a Golden Boot in the Belgian Pro League’s 2022-23 season, and now becomes the spearhead of an attack that includes Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri and homegrown standout Brian Gutiérrez. The club could also add another DP (alongside Cuypers and Shaqiri) after parting ways with Jairo Torres.

San Jose have a change on the wings, transferring homegrown star Cade Cowell to Liga MX’s Chivas for a club-record fee (reported $4 million fee plus add-ons and a sell-on percentage).

Step in Pellegrino, who’s arrived from Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt. He’s the two-time reigning Golden Boot winner (2022-23) in the Eliteserien after scoring a combined 49 goals – and this past year was named the Player of the Year as Bodø/Glimt won the Eliteserien for the third time in four seasons.

San Jose still need a DP No. 10, and they’ve acknowledged as much. But an attack with Pellegrino, winger Cristian Espinoza and striker Jeremy Ebobisse is a solid start.

The simple version: DP wingers Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil joined the club, creating a tasty attacking quartet alongside DP No. 10 Riqui Puig and striker Dejan Joveljic. With that group leading the charge, the Galaxy could feasibly score 65-plus goals this year.

The other big note is LA reportedly spent around $20 million on the transfer market to acquire that aforementioned duo. Pec joins for $10-plus million from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama, while Paintsil is inbound from Belgian side Genk. The former has starred for Brazil’s U-23s, while the latter just represented Ghana at the African Cup of Nations.

For those who missed it: Pec and Painstil fill the DP spots LA opened when not retaining Chicharito (now at Liga MX’s Chivas) and Douglas Costa (now at Brazil’s Fluminense).

It’s a Rapids rebuild, no pun intended.

Colorado won the offseason (in this scribe’s opinion) while swapping nearly 30 players when combining incomings and outgoings. The headlining trio isn’t ripe with new faces, because they previously featured in MLS and have US men’s national team experience, but they’re certainly worth highlighting:

  • GK Zack Steffen
  • LB Sam Vines
  • AM Djordje Mihailovic

Steffen, a former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year while at the Columbus Crew, joined from Manchester City. Vines, a Rapids homegrown product, is back after a stint at Belgian side Royal Antwerp. Mihailovic, who previously starred at CF Montréal, is a club-record signing (reportedly north of $3 million) from Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar.

Add it all up, layer in some other important signings (i.e. Omir Fernandez and Lamine Diack), toss in new head coach Chris Armas… and you should get a Colorado turnaround. At least that’s the intention.

Both players arrive on U22 Initiative deals and reportedly cost a combined $15 million, give or take. Mijatović is a rising Serbian youth international who was last at Red Star Belgrade and Ojeda is an Argentine youth international who joins from Racing Club.

Collectively, they should add a spark to NYCFC’s attacking group. And that’s on top of former Austrian youth international Hannes Wolf, who arrived from Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach.

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