Over the last few seasons in Major League Soccer, intra-league player movement has exploded. Bigger trades and now a revamped free agency system has led to more significant moves within the league than ever before.
USMNT veteran and stalwart New York Red Bulls center back Aaron Long announced Tuesday that he'll officially be moving on from the Red Bulls and finding a new home for his club football.
The latest report from MLSSoccer.com's Tom Bogert suggest that Long will join reigning MLS Cup champions LAFC. The Los Angeles based club built last season's championship roster with a plethora of intra-league stars like Kellyn Acosta, Ilie Sanchez and Maxime Crepeau.
Before the latest Long sweepstakes, the likes of Albert Rusnak, Paul Arriola, Walker Zimmerman and Darlington Nagbe have been moved throughout the league. With Rusnak and Long, the revamped free agency rules have allowed the Sounders to potentially add two elite, proven MLS players.
Orlando City is no stranger to big intra-league transfers. Under the previous regime of Orlando City Soccer, the Lions swung massive trades to land striker Dom Dwyer and midfielder Sacha Klejstan, two huge moves at the time that turned into quagmires for a floundering Orlando franchise.
Since Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira joined the front office and Oscar Pareja signed on as head coach, Orlando hasn't been involved with the big wave of trades and signings sweeping the league. There have been modest additions like Joao Moutinho and Tesho Akindele, but Orlando hasn't featured as a key player in the MLS marketplace.
This offseason, Orlando so far has made two additions within MLS. The Lions traded for Toronto FC winger/fullback Lucas Petrasso and Austin FC midfielder Felipe, but neither moves are much more than depth additions --- unless Petrasso blossoms in a new system the way Moutinho did after arriving from LAFC.
It's hard to say Orlando should be more active within the league in acquiring talent. Muzzi and Moreira have had plenty of succcess signing players from all over the world, including Robin Jansson from the Sweden, Antonio Carlos and Junior Urso from Brazil, and Facundo Torres from Uruguay.
Without knowing what Orlando's resource pool even looks like --- it's almost impossible to know how much allocation money or cap space teams actually have year to year --- it's impossible to know if a big trade or free agent acquisition is even possible.
On a micro level, signing a center back like Aaron Long wouldn't be a good or necessary signing for this particular team given the depth in that position and significant investment between Jansson and Antonio Carlos.
But even if a big center back like Aaron Long or Alex Callens wouldn't make sense, Orlando needs key players across the field, and could find proven replacements throughout the league. A central midfielder to replace Urso and a new set of fullbacks are the most pressing need for the Lions.
With 52 days till Orlando hosts the Red Bulls in the MLS season opener, Muzzi and the front office remain quiet on the MLS market, but maybe a big trade or signing could be on the way to shore up the needs for a trophy chase.