MLS: Top 3 free agents to target

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Toronto FC, Michael Bradley

QUEENS, NY – OCTOBER 23: Captain Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC claps as he charges up his team during the 2nd half of the 2019 MLS Cup Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Semifinal match between New York City FC and Toronto FC at Citi Field on October 23, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Toronto FC won the match with a score of 2 to 1 and advances to the Eastern Conference Finals. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

After the re-entry draft, waiver claims and expansion draft, a list of MLS free agents has now been assembled. Here are the top three players that clubs should target this offseason.

The offseason is a time of hope, rising expectation, and critical, team-building work. Teams can entirely turn their fortunes around with smart, progressive recruitment in the offseason. After all, matches are often won by the team with the most talent, irrespective of who the coach may be.

And this offseason, there is a vast array of excellent free agents that Major League Soccer sides should be looking to pursue. In fact, you could assemble a semi-decent squad out of the free agents that might do better than FC Cincinnati did last year.

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But who are the best individuals that MLS teams should target? Well, here are my top three candidates.

ATLANTA, GA JULY 07: Atlanta’s Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring a goal during the MLS match between the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United FC July 7th, 2019 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

3. Justin Meram

In terms of sheer ability, there are few players on the free agent list that can rival former Atlanta United winger Justin Meram. It was a surprise when the Five Stripes declined his contract option in 2020 after he performed admirably throughout the second half of the season, even filling in at left wing-back when needed.

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He may have only scored four goals in 1270 MLS minutes last season, following on from zero goals and assists for the Columbus Crew before he was traded to Georgia, but his impact reached far further than padding the stats sheet. His dribbling was a primary asset for Atlanta, both from an offensive standpoint and in releasing pressure, he showed increased positional versatility, and still has that same burst of speed that made him such a threat in Orlando and Columbus in years prior.

In 2017, Meram totalled 20 goals and assists for the Crew. He was then traded to Orlando before returning to Columbus before finally ending Atlanta. Not much was expected of Meram in Atlanta, but he proved his worth and could do so again as an experienced, versatile, still dangerous veteran.

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