The Primary Transfer Window for MLS teams slams shut on Monday, April 24 at midnight — and the Secondary Transfer Window doesn’t open until the summer. You might think that teams one or two players away from being considered a contender are working hard to get a deal done before the transfer window deadline closes.
Enter New York City FC, which, by some accounts, are one striker and one left-footed center-back short of fielding an elite squad. To go by conventional wisdom, Monday’s transfer window deadline should mean that New York City sporting director David Lee will be working the phones through the weekend.
Over on MLS.com, Tom Selleck look-alike Tom Bogert named NYCFC as one of the four teams in which “there should be some more movement between now and Monday night.” Both he and MLS.com’s “Armchair Analyst” Matthew Doyle agree that the club need a productive striker, and fast.
In an Escher-like construction, Bogert quotes Doyle telling readers to follow Bogert’s feed on Twitter. It’s good advice. Bogert has a well-earned reputation for breaking legitimate transfer news before anybody else in MLS-land.
The only problem is the Primary Transfer Window deadline on Monday isn’t necessarily the cutoff for an announcement from NYCFC or Lee. You see, you can’t sign players from other MLS teams after the transfer window deadline shuts on Monday, but the rest of the world is fair game as long as you file the paperwork on time.
According to MLS 2023 transfer rules, “All in-season trades between MLS clubs must take place within either the Primary Transfer Window or the Secondary Transfer Window.” However, “deals may be agreed upon” to sign “a player under contract in another country” provided “the transfer and receipt of an ITC,” or International Transfer Certificate, is completed within the window. In other words, a deal outside of MLS can be reached at any time but the ITC needs to be obtained within a transfer window.
Historically, NYCFC prefer to sign players from abroad, or to sign players developed in the NYCFC Academy. The current First Team roster has only three players who came from other MLS teams, and only one arrived via a trade, namely backup goalkeeper Matt Freese, who was signed from Philadelphia Union. But backup center-back Tony Alfaro (DC United) was a free agent, and starting winger Matías Pellegrini (Inter Miami CF) was claimed off waivers. NYCFC simply doesn’t make many domestic trades.
Still, the transfer window deadline is fast-approaching. Is Lee on the phone with an agent in Croatia at this very moment, hammering out a chicken bucket bonus if certain performance benchmarks are met? Possibly. But it’s more likely that Lee is looking at scouting reports in advance of bringing in the right player at the right time, whenever that might be.
Bogert pegs NYCFC as one of the four teams most likely to make a deal by Monday, but he also allows that New York City is the least likely of them to rush and sign a player. “Whether a deal comes together over the next week (or at all) remains to be seen, of course,” Bogert wrote. “This club has been patient.”