Welcome to the Rumor Radar, a weekly column by Philly Football Daily MLS contributor, Noah Barnes. Each week, Barnes breaks down the top MLS transfer rumors of the week.
The start of the 2018 MLS season is within sight.
Officially beginning on March 4, kickoff for Major League Soccer’s 2018 regular season is now less than a week away, which means this will be the final Rumor Radar before the start of the new season.
More importantly, it means the final preseason additions are being scouted, speculated and signed. Let’s waste no time then, and jump right into this week’s top five rumored transfers.
Borek Dockal — Philadelphia Union
In what has been a considerably quiet offseason for the Philadelphia Union, it seems the club might finally make a splash in the international market, at least according to recent reports.
According to numerous reports out of the Czech Republic and China, Czech international Borek Dockal has been in Clearwater, FL with the team and is reportedly finalizing a deal.
Dockal has also reportedly passed a medical with the club, and Union coach Jim Curtin has confirmed the two parties are close to a deal. Curtin confirmed not only is the 29-year-old in Clearwater with the club, but also very close to agreeing to terms.
The attacking midfielder currently plays for Henan Jianye in China, but is reportedly unhappy with his role at the club. Jianye paid $9 million for the player last February, but since then Dockal has not featured in many matches.
I’d argue Dockal is at his best when allowed to drift into the half-spaces between the wingers and the striker. There, he can whip in dangerous balls to the striker or weak side winger, but he has also shown the attacking mindset to get into the box when necessary and tuck them away himself.
Most impressive, in my opinion, is the threat from distance that Dockal has developed. He showed his class from long range many times at former club Sparta Praha in the Czech first division, and Union fans will hope he can bring this talent to Chester.
Andre Horta — LAFC
Next on this week’s rumor list comes from the recent expansion club who will begin play this season, Los Angeles Football Club.
Though LAFC may be the “new kids on the block,” looking to make a name for themselves with the LA Galaxy next door, the club have already shown that they mean business.
LAFC has already brought in a wealth of experience to help lead the inaugural MLS side, signing traveled players like Mexican international Carlos Vela and former United States international Benny Feilhaber.
LAFC landed promising Uruguayan Diego Rossi earlier this year, and now, the club is looking to bring in even more youth. According to ESPN, LAFC are expected to finalize a transfer deal with Portuguese giants Benfica for 21-year-old Andre Horta.
Horta would round out LAFC manager Bob Bradley’s midfield, which remains an issue for the club, as far as depth is concerned. Horta, who tends to prefer taking up a more advanced role, would provide the perfect balance with Feilhaber in the midfield.
Horta has appeared as a youth international for Portugal’s U18, U19, U20 and U21 teams. He is on the books as a Benfica player, but is currently on loan at Sporting Braga.
Albert Rusnak — NYCFC
New York City Football Club has had a fairly busy offseason thus far, although much of the transfer buzz surrounding the club has been concerning the sale of budding star Jack Harrison to parent club Manchester City.
Now, according to ESPN FC, the club might be on the buying end.
Recently, the club have been linked with Real Salt Lake star Albert Rusnak, whom NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira identified as one of his top transfer targets before the start of the season.
Rusnak was one of RSL’s best players last season, scoring seven goals while creating another 14 as one of the club’s three designated players.
In order to the Slovakian international, NYCFC would likely have to work out a trade deal with Real, though RSL sources have maintained the player will remain in Salt Lake City this season.
Originally, Rusnak was a product of the Manchester City youth system, but failed to make a breakthrough at the club. After spending time in Holland, Rusnak found his way to MLS with RSL.
The 23-year-old might be keen to join NYCFC and manager Vieira, however, as the latter worked with Rusnak during his time coaching youth at City.
Simon Dawkins — Minnesota United
It appears Simon Dawkins’ time as a free agent might be short lived, and Minnesota United appears to be the Jamaican international’s likely destination.
According to Jeff Rueter, MNUFC are apparently looking to sign the player, just days after he agreed to part ways with his former club, the San Jose Earthquakes.
Dawkins made 43 appearances for the Quakes after signing in 2016, but agreed to mutually part ways with the club after agreeing to a buyout of his contract. The buyout is thought to have occurred because Dawkins has not featured for the side since August.
The midfielder scored just five times and provided two assists during his tenure in San Jose, but MUNFC are hoping the player will be able to provide a veteran presence, as the team enters its second season in MLS.
At the very least, Dawkins might be able to provide some much needed midfield depth for the Loons.
Arjen Robben — MLS
OK, I know what you’re all thinking: how does this transfer, which involves a star like Arjen Robben, make the bottom of the list?
Since it is a potential transfer, which would not take effect until this Summer, when the current German Bundesliga season ends, I have included it last in this week’s top-five rumored MLS transfers.
A report from Sport Buzzer says the Dutchman may be weighing a move to MLS in the Summer.
Robben has spent the last few years under short-term contracts at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and the latest of those deals is set to end this summer. Though the club is reportedly looking to extend the deal, no agreement has been reached as of yet, and the player has openly discussed a potential move to MLS.
Robben, 34, is a legend for the Bavarian club. He has kicked up dust in the face of Time this season under interim coach Jupp Heynckes, despite his past few seasons having been relatively mediocre.
Though he has lost some of his defining pace at his age, the Dutchman has shown this season that he still has the ability to play at a very high level of football.
If any MLS club is able to pry the player away from the German giants this Summer, it would certainly be a huge capture.
Robben himself has said he believes he can play at the top level for at least a few more years. Could the Dutchman fancy spending those years cutting in from the right in MLS?
Keep an eye out, throughout the week, for each of these rumored MLS transfers. Check back next Monday for the latest edition of the Rumor Radar. In the meantime, connect and follow Noah on Twitter. Cheers.