Tip Sheet: Temporary spells for stars carry benefits, risks for MLS expansion teams

Frank Lampard is poised to complete the trio of high-profile players shipped out on temporary deals by MLS expansion sides ahead of the 2015 season.

The former Chelsea midfielder is expected to link up with Manchester City on a six-month loan deal to pass the time before New York City FC opens training camp next year. The decision will provide him with an opportunity to acquire and retain match fitness with Champions League and Premier League fixtures ahead of his MLS bow next season. It also supplies Manchester City — the primary investor in both organizations — with an opportunity to augment its playing squad under the strictures imposed by UEFA in recent months.

Lampard joins Kaká (Sao Paulo) and David Villa (Melbourne City) on temporary assignment ahead of their MLS bows. It is by no means the ideal scenario to send out crucial cogs to other clubs, but it may in fact represent the best solution for all involved parties.

New York City FC and Orlando City made the prudent decision to dip into the more fertile summer transfer window to stock their sides with big names ahead of next season. This decision provided them with more options, but it also left them with the awkward brief of figuring out a solution to the dead periods once they landed their preferred targets.

By fixing up external solutions instead of creating training programs, the MLS sides diminished their wage bills for the next few months and provided their stars with a chance to keep sharp. It comes at the expense of increased risk of injury, though. The potential loss of Kaka, Lampard or Villa for the start of next season for a concern created elsewhere is a potential headache both clubs will hope to avoid.

That particular component is factored into the calculus, but it is not enough to prevent these deals from going through. City can leverage its big-money NYCFC signings to benefit other clubs in their orbit over the next few months, while Orlando City can provide Kaka (already on the scoresheet in his return to his home country) with a chance to play with his hometown club for the next six months. It is, in essence, a win-win for everyone involved if everything proceeds according to plan.

As difficult as it is to send top players on loan to another side, the choice does provide NYCFC and Orlando City with a measure of certainty and control. Both clubs know they will have their stars already signed when they take their MLS bows early next year. In this case, the guarantees in hand make the temporary sacrifices worthwhile.

Five Points – Week 22

1. Galaxy, Timbers prepare for expansive battle: LA Galaxy delivered a statement of intent with the 3-0 victory at Seattle on Monday night. The visit from Portland on Saturday afternoon offers a chance for the Galaxy – now with a game in hand on Sounders FC and three matches in hand on every other viable playoff contender in the Western Conference – to build on that display. The home side must lean on its reconstituted defense to provide the bedrock for another sweeping display against a Timbers side capable of presenting questions if the Galaxy falters.

2. Is Toronto FC in “must-win” territory?: TFC boss Ryan Nelsen placed this match into that dreaded category after the 3-0 defeat at D.C. United on Wednesday. It is a bit hasty to label any match as a necessary victory at this stage of the season, but the Reds should take advantage of the opportunity against the scuffling Impact. Their games in hand – one or two, depending on the adversary – only matter if they grasp the opportunity provided in these sorts of affairs.

3. Chicago, Columbus ponder reinforcements as they meet at Toyota Park: Fire boss Frank Yallop confirmed his side’s interest in Jermaine Jones this week, while Crew coach and technical director Gregg Berhalter revealed an inquiry from a U.S. national team player this week about joining the ranks before the close of the transfer window. Both teams do need to supplement their squads, but this match matters a great deal. Columbus must pick apart the revamped Chicago back four and prevent Fire from breaking quickly at home to stay inside the red line for another week.

MLS ROUNDUP: NEW ENGLAND SNAPS SKID

4. Colorado prepares for Rocky Mountain Cup response against Real Salt Lake after midweek disappointment: “What do I take away? Just everything,” Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni told reporters after the 3-0 defeat at New England on Wednesday. “Everything from the preparation, the mindset, the desire to compete – none of it was there from top to bottom today. I never felt like we looked dangerous, always looked like we were on the back foot instead of the front. But obviously there are games that you have to take something from, they’re going to happen, especially with a relatively young group. We just have to take our lumps and move on.”

The margin for error is not particularly wide with a derby date against RSL in Commerce City on tap. Colorado must increase its intensity in midfield – the likely restoration of Dillon Powers will help – and present more of a threat up front to secure a result.

5. Eddie Johnson travels to Houston with a point to prove: Former Dynamo forward Brian Ching offered a rather frank assessment of Johnson’s motivation levels in a club-released podcast earlier this week. Johnson responded by scoring his third goal in three games in United’s victory over Toronto FC and sweeping aside the comments on Twitter. Houston may need to include DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido to quell the threat posed by a United side in good form and a striker with plenty of reasons to extend his own successful run in front of goal.

BONUSJamison Olave suspended two matches by Disciplinary Committee for violent conduct: Olave placed himself at the mercy of the panel after cameras caught him grabbing Olmes Garcia in a tender area during the 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night. He escaped with a relatively light ban given the facts in play, but the Red Bulls will miss his physical presence when New England visits on Saturday night.