With the MLS championship final set for Saturday, and the reported interest of Leeds United in former Orlando City SC Canada International Cyle Larin, we thought we’d take a look at some other names in MLS that Leeds could possibly be interested in, taking into account the positions of need for Leeds and players that could make a jump up into the Championship. Here are three players that could make the jump and would fill a need for Leeds.
The New York City FC left back had an injury plagued 2017 season, causing him to miss much of the season. He did, however, play with Costa Rica in a couple of World Cup qualifiers and helped to ensure that the Ticos were able to qualify for Russia, something the United States failed to do.
He scored against Trinidad in 2016 during World Cup qualifiers, and assisted on a goal in Costa Rica’s 4-0 humiliation of the United States as well. He’s played in a number of internationals and appears to be in the plans of the national team in Russia, so a work permit shouldn’t be an issue.
At 23 years old, he’s still young enough to learn and he appears to have the attacking qualities to make the jump to the Championship. He was rated as one of the best left backs in MLS at the start of the season, and while he’s been out for much of 2017, he’s at the right age to make the jump to Europe. He’s just signed a new contract, as his old one would have run out in January, but it’s not as if City Football Group isn’t familiar with transfers for players under contract, so that shouldn’t be a sticking point.
The Jamaican number one goalkeeper has been saving the Philadelphia Union’s bacon for a few years now. He’s been an outstanding keeper for club and country over the past few seasons, helping Jamaica to the Gold Cup (the North American version of the Euros) final last summer before coming off with an injury at the beginning part of the match.
He was named the MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2016, and were it not for the injury during the Gold Cup, he could have followed it up with another award this past year. If players in any position have been able to make the transition from MLS to England in the past, it’s been goalkeepers. Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Brad Friedel, and Kasey Keller have all played in England, and it’s only a matter of time until someone comes and snatches up Blake.
I watch the Philadelphia Union all the time, and Blake is the real deal. He’s been rumoured to have Premier League teams interested in him in the past, including Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace and he’s good enough to play in Europe somewhere. Bill Hamid, the keeper for DC United, made the jump to Europe after his contract ran out, and Blake is better and younger than Hamid. The only issue would be his ability to get a work permit with the low ranking of Jamaica, but with the Gold Cup performance of Jamaica, they might be able to sneak high enough for him to qualify to a move during January.
Asad had a breakout campaign for Atlanta United this past season, scoring seven goals and assisting on 11 more as the expansion franchise surprised almost everyone by having a great year and making the playoffs in their first season, only to lose to the underdog Columbus Crew SC, who were playing with extra emotion because of the threat of relocation.
Asad was on loan to Atlanta United from Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield, and with it looking likely that Atlanta United will be bringing in a new Designated Player from Argentina, Ezequiel Barco, it looks like Asad won’t be returning to Atlanta. Atlanta fans are already sad to see Asad go, as the 23 year old’s loan deal to the MLS club is now up.
Leeds have already looked all over the globe for transfer targets, with this year’s best player, Samu Saiz, coming from CD Huesca in the Spanish Second division. Just looking at players in the Championship or in England is too limiting with the global nature of football today, and with English and England-based players going for insane prices, going overseas to try and mine some talent isn’t the worst idea in the world. So could these players work out for Leeds? Maybe, maybe not. But perhaps Orta’s network of scouts should take a look at these players to see if they’ll be a fit.