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Top 5 MLS Offseason Transfers

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Top 5 MLS Offseason Transfers

Top 5 MLS Offseason Transfers
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the opening of the January transfer market, teams around the globe have the opportunity to both strengthen their squads, or "trim the fat," so to speak. Often known as the "silly season," it is not uncommon for teams to spend ridiculous amounts of money on players that they may, or may not, need. For teams fighting relegation, this transfer window has the ability to either make or break a season by injecting fresh blood. On the opposite end of the league table, teams at the top can look to replace injured players, or add a bit more quality to their roster to make the final push.

Because the January market opens halfway through the MLS offseason, it is especially helpful for teams looking to take advantage of disgruntled or declining European players looking for playing time, or South American's looking to make a name for themselves. MLS is a league that is gaining popularity daily, and many players around the world are beginning to view it as a viable playing option. The increase in quality over the past few seasons represents a global shift in the way MLS is viewed, something very positive for the growth of U.S. soccer going forward.

Prime transfer time for MLS starts around December once the dust from the end of the season has settled. Despite the fact that the window has only officially been open for a little over a week in Europe, there have already been various dealings between MLS, South American and European teams. Here are the top five MLS transfers of the offseason so far.

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Charlie Davies

Randers FC to New England Revolution
Maxwell Kruger-USA TODAY Sports

Starting out the top five offseason transfers is former U.S. international forward Charlie Davies. Having left the United States shortly after graduating college to play professionally, Davies signed for Swedish side Hammarby IK. After failing to score in the league during his first season at Hammarby, Davies' finished his second season with the club with 14 goals, attracting interest from French Side Sochaux, who he would join in 2009.

Toward the end of his first season in France, Davies was seriously injured during a car crash while in Washington D.C. After making a full recovery, Davies was sent on loan to D.C. United and later signed for Danish side Randers FC. While playing for Randers, Davies spent part of the 2013 MLS season on loan at the New England Revolution, and the two clubs made the move permanent during the January window after New England signed the forward on a free transfer.

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Eddie Johnson

Seattle Sounders FC to DC United
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United experienced an extremely disappointing 2013 MLS season and have turned their attention to the transfer market to reshuffle their roster. Their best signing by far has been U.S. international Eddie Johnson, who D.C. acquired from the Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for allocation money.

A proven goal scorer with loads of confidence, Johnson's aerial presence and hunger to score make him a dangerous option alongside Fabian Espindola, another player D.C. has brought in to add a different dimension to their attack. Johnson, who scored 28 goals in all competitions for the Sounders over two seasons, joins D.C. as one of the best forwards in the MLS, and is expected to be traveling to the World Cup in Brazil this summer with the USMNT.

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Clint Dempsey

Seattle Sounders FC-Fulham FC
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Dempsey has returned to his old stomping grounds, and it's not in America with the Seattle Sounders FC. U.S. fans need not be alarmed, however, as the Deuce will not be gone for long. In a bid to stay in shape ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, Dempsey has returned on a two-month loan to former club EPL Fulham FC.

After joining the Seattle Sounders last August from English side Tottenham Hotspur, Dempsey underperformed during the last few months of the MLS season and hasn't yet hit the form he was in while playing for Fulham or Tottenham. The move is mutually beneficial, both for Dempsey, and Fulham, as he will get regular playing time and attempt to help a club he once called home stave off relegation.

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Jermain Defoe

Tottenham Hotspur to Toronto FC
Jermain Defoe Twitter Page: IAmJermainDefoe

This is a deal that just couldn't be left out of the top two, and for obvious reasons. A seasoned international with 55 caps and 19 goals for England's national team, Jermain Defoe leaves EPL side Tottenham Hotspur in search of regular playing time to boost his chances of being on the plane to Brazil come June.

With the arrival of Roberto Soldado from Spanish side Valencia this summer, combined with the resurgence of former African Player of the Year Emmanuel Adebayor, playing time has been scare for Defoe as of late, and Toronto FC jumped on the deal, signing him for a fee of around $10 million. With a proven goal-scorer like Defoe, Toronto adds a new dimension to an attack that has struggled for goals and has finished in the bottom two of the MLS Eastern Conference for three years in a row.

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Michael Bradley

AS Roma to Toronto FC
Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports

Easily the biggest transfer of the offseason so far, U.S. international Michael Bradley is returning to MLS with Toronto FC from Italian side AS Roma. Although an incredible piece of business by Toronto, the deal has been heavily scrutinized by U.S. fans, with many believing that Bradley's return is premature.

Despite the fact that a host of European clubs were interested in signing Bradley, he opted for Toronto, who have continued to splash the cash by signing the midfielder for a fee between $7 and $10 million. With the arrival of Bradley and England international Jermain Defoe, Toronto are starting to look like genuine MLS Cup contenders. With quality players like Defoe and Bradley, it will hard to bet against them making waves when the 2014 MLS regular season kicks off in March.