Nearly a month has passed since the Seattle Sounders' MLS Cup triumph, and while the city still may be working to remove Rave Green from any nook and cranny in town, teams around the league already have their sights firmly set on the 2020 season. As front offices discuss incomings and outgoings in hushed tones, we bring you the latest gossip from across Major League Soccer in this edition of the MLS Hot Stove.
Cristian Espinoza to San Jose: 75%
The 24-year-old winger made a splash in MLS last year after he was acquired on loan from La Liga side Villarreal.
San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda has a strong relationship with the former Argentina U20 international, who had two goals and 13 assists in 30 matches last year for the Quakes. Sources tell ESPN FC that San Jose in talks with Villarreal to make the move permanent, a deal that Espinoza is on board with.
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez to MLS: 45%
OK, this one has been rumored for a while, but there is something to this.
The Mexico international recently said that MLS is a very real possibility for him, but would the Sevilla striker actually make the move at this point? Moving to the league could potentially be a very big pay day, and El Tri teammates Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos have thrived in Los Angeles.
Sources tell ESPN FC that Chicharito's interest in MLS is "more than just lip service" and that one team has already talked to him about a move that would make him the highest-paid player in league history. Commissioner Don Garber is also said to be keen on this transfer, possibility as it would do wonders for television ratings and attendance.
As for landing spots, one person close to the situation said that the re-branded Chicago Fire are a very real possibility given their move to Soldier Field and need to fill up the venue. Inter Miami has been in the mix in the past as well and could be a potential destination to watch.
Tyler Miller to Europe: 55%
The LAFC goalkeeper, out of contract, might be on the move.
Multiple sources tell ESPN FC that Miller has a couple of suitors within MLS that could be interested in making a deal, including one Eastern Conference team eyeing a goalkeeper. In addition, Miller has garnered significant interest from "clubs in Portugal, Belgium and Germany," according to one source.
Lucas Cavallini to Vancouver: 45%
The Canada international, on the books in Mexico with Puebla, is looking for a move to MLS. The 26-year-old striker could help any number of MLS teams and was recently linked with a move to Sporting Kansas City.
Other teams are in the mix here, however. The Chicago Fire have some interest, but the one to watch here are the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Cascadia club has the discovery rights on the striker, giving them the right of first refusal. And one source says that the club has an interest in signing the goal scorer, which would be an ambitious swoop for the club that finished last in the West in 2019.
Miguel Ibarra to Houston: 50%
Minnesota United declined to pick up the winger's option, and the thrice-capped United States international is drawing some interest from within the league.
Ibarra has generated some looks from the Houston Dynamo as well as New York City FC, sources say. A good technical player, Ibarra would add some pace and creativity down the wing for either club, but Houston is likely the best bet here given the need on the wing..
Josh Sims to the Red Bulls: 60%
The loan player from Premier League club Southampton is looking more and more likely to return to the Red Bulls. A source said that the Red Bulls are actively engaged in trying to bring Sims back and that there is "optimism" that a deal for 2020 can be worked out. If this deal is a loan or a permanent transfer is unclear at the moment.
What is known is that Sims is open to the move per one source and sees it as a good step for his development. A former England U20 international, the winger has good pace and work rate, making him an ideal fit for the high-pressing Red Bulls. With a full preseason, he could become the type of impact player that the club has been looking for the past couple of years.
Kelyn Rowe to be traded: 70%
Now with Real Salt Lake, Rowe could be moving to his fourth team in 12 months. Last December, he was traded from the New England Revolution to the Colorado Rapids, who then immediately shipped him to Sporting Kansas City. RSL acquired Rowe in August, and the midfielder hasn't settled at Rio Tinto.
Salt Lake is looking to move Rowe, who has four caps with the U.S.. One sporting director told ESPN FC that RSL is seeking "around $300,00" in allocation money for the 28-year-old.
Thiago Santos to Dallas: 95%
The Brazilian midfielder soon will be heading to FC Dallas, leaving last year's Brazilian champion Palmeiras for Major League Soccer.
He turned down Brazilian clubs such as Gremio, Atletico Mineiro and Athletico Paranaense to come to North America. One source says that the 30-year-old will be a TAM signing.