How to find Transfer Market Success in MLS by Benjamin Bellman

Analyzing Foreign Transfers to MLS with Survival Analysis

Finding success in the global transfer market is a critical part of a winning MLS season. While the U.S. is obviously progressing as a soccer nation, there just aren’t enough talented players from this country to satisfy its growing thirst for exciting play and trophies. Still, signing players that are unfamiliar with MLS has also been a risky prospect. Foreign signings with poor outcomes can waste valuable international roster spots, and destroy a team’s budget in a relatively low-spending league. However, Atlanta United and LAFC have shown that signing players who can contribute immediately can make an expansion team an immediate contender. Understanding the historical structural patterns in the success and failure of past MLS teams could offer insights into navigating these decisions, for both future teams and those who need players for 2019 and beyond. Obviously, the most important considerations for signing a player have to do with style of play and personality, but understanding general hotspots and mistakes could improve the odds of signing foreign players who succeed in MLS.

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Expected Narratives: DRAAAAAAMA by Ian L.

For many in Sports media around the world, Deadline Day is one that is circled three times on the calendar. The reason? DRAAAAAAMA. So much drama. Helicopters being deployed all over Europe, fax machine malfunctions, Harry Redknapp, players just up and showing up at rival teams training facility hoping to force a move, and of course, the heartbreak for fans and players of dream deals falling just short.

MLS does not have this. The league is too centralized. Europe has an entire industry devoted to transfer speculation and rumor mongering that gets fans into an agitated fugue state. That industry is not as well established here in Major League Soccer. Teams tend to be pretty leaky and so there are very few transactions that come as a real surprise. There is a lot of irony on Twitter about various odd situations that demonstrate how “soccer has finally made it here”, but until we get our own Harry Redknapp getting blockaded in his car by reporters on the way home from practice, we’re still just playing dress up.

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