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How MLS' new big-name signings have fared so far in 2023

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; D.C. United midfielder Mateusz Klich (43) dribbles against FC Cincinnati in the second half at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

• LAFC's Stipe Biuk: Biuk joined LAFC this summer for $7.1 million, and while he has struggled a bit, he is still only 20 years old.

• St. Louis City SC's João Klauss: Klauss has burst onto the scene for the expansion side, pushing St. Louis City to second in the Western Conference.

• D.C. United's Mateusz Klich: Klich has scored one goal and created 25 chances, serving as the engine for D.C. United to start the season.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins

With 11 match days in the books so far in the 2023 MLS season, we can start to truly evaluate how well some of the big-name signings from this past offseason are performing.

Stipe Biuk: LAFC, Left winger

Biuk joined LAFC this summer for $7.1 million from Hajduk Split of the Croatian first division. The 20-year-old made 52 appearances for Hajduk, scoring nine goals. He has made four starts and nine appearances for a very talented LAFC team this season. His stat line includes one goal, one assist, and seven key passes (passes that lead to shots).

Stipe currently sits behind MVP front-runner Dénis Bouanga on the depth chart, making it a little difficult to find form currently. Biuk’s 61.7 PFF shooting grade ranks him 83rd out of 87 qualified forwards (minimum of nine shot attempts). He is still just 20 years old and playing for the best team in MLS, so his slow start in MLS should not be a worry. Playing with superstars like Carlos Vela and Bouanga should help him play up to his potential. 

Evander: Portland Timbers, Attacking midfielder

The 24-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder joined the Portland Timbers this past winter from FC Midtjylland for a hefty fee of $10.3 million, making him the ninth-most expensive transfer for an MLS club. Evander registered 50 goals and 38 assists across 167 appearances for the Danish club. In his first season in MLS, he has two goals, two assists and 10 key passes in eight appearances.

Evander has excelled at both crossing and dribbling in 2023. His 76.9 PFF crossing grade ranks him 18th out of 141 midfielders, and his 71.3 PFF dribbling grade is currently 36th. With 14 completed dribbles from 24 attempts, his 58% dribble completion rate is the 11th-best mark in the league among players to attempt 20 or more dribbles so far this season.

Martín Ojeda: Orlando City SC, Left winger

Ojeda joined Orlando City this past winter from Godoy Cruz of the Argentine Primera División, scoring 29 goals in 88 appearances for the club. The 24-year-old winger joined Orlando for $5.4 million in what was an offseason roster overhaul. Orlando scored only 44 goals last year, tied for 11th out of 14 teams in the Eastern Conference. Bringing Ojeda into the team was their hope at sparking the attack. He has two goals, three assists and 14 key passes for Orlando in MLS this season.

Ojeda has been excellent thus far, earning PFF grades over 70.0 in crossing (75.2), passing (71.5) and shooting (80.3). That shooting grade ranks 20th among forwards, with Ojeda attempting 38 shots this year, tied for second most among forwards. 

João Klauss: St. Louis City SC, Center forward

Klauss has burst onto the scene for the expansion side, pushing St. Louis City to second in the Western Conference. He joined St. Louis from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on a permanent transfer, for only $3.5 million. Klauss never got his chance with the Hoffenheim first team, making only four appearances from 2020-2022. After Klauss' loan spells at Standard Liège and Sint-Truidense V.V., St. Louis went and got their main man in the summer of 2022. 

Klauss has started all nine games for St. Louis, accumulating five goals and creating eight chances. He is powering the team's frontline, earning an 88.9 PFF shooting grade, good for fifth among forwards and seventh among all players. He has put 60% of all his shots on target, tied for ninth among forwards who have attempted at least nine shots.

Enzo Copetti: Charlotte FC, Center forward

Charlotte FC failed to make the playoffs in their first MLS season, finishing ninth and scoring only 44 goals, tied for 11th out of 14 teams. In need of a goal-scoring threat, Charlotte turned to Enzo Copetti, a 27-year-old Argentinian center forward. Copetti was acquired from Racing Club for a transfer fee of $6.6 million.

Copetti has started all 11 games for Charlotte in 2023, scoring four goals and creating 14 chances for his team. He has excelled in front of goal, earning an 84.7 PFF shooting grade to rank 10th among forwards. While Copetti has been lethal in front of goal, he has failed to shine elsewhere on the field. He sports a 65.7 PFF dribbling grade, completing just six of 18 dribble attempts. Copetti has also earned a lowly 51.7 PFF passing grade, completing just 62% of his passes this season. 

Giorgos Giakoumakis: Atlanta United FC, Center forward

This past offseason saw Atlanta trade club talisman Josef Martínez to Inter Miami FC. Atlanta had to look elsewhere for a goal-scoring threat, eventually landing on Giakoumakis of Celtic in Scotland. The 28-year-old Greek international played for a plethora of teams throughout Greece before moving to Celtic in 2021. In the two years with the Scottish champions, he made 40 appearances and scored 19 goals. Atlanta United acquired Giakoumakis in February of 2023 for $4.3 million.

Giakoumakis has made seven appearances for his new club, scoring five goals and creating five chances. Starting off strong for Atlanta, he has earned 70.0-plus PFF grades in aerial duels (71.6), passing (70.7) and shooting (90.9). Giakoumakis has shined brightest when in front of goal, putting 73% of shots on target, good for second among center forwards to have attempted at least nine shots.

Mateusz Klich: D.C. United, Center-midfielder

D.C. United hit the reset button after a horrible year in 2022, finishing last in MLS after earning just 27 points in 34 games. They needed new talent in a big way heading into the 2023 season. Enter Mateusz Klich, a 32-year-old Polish international who was acquired on a free transfer from Leeds United in January of 2023.

Klich has scored one goal and created 25 chances, good for 11th in MLS. Klich has been the engine for D.C. United to start the season. He has earned an 88.0 PFF crossing grade, second among all midfielders, and a 72.4 PFF passing grade, which ranks 64th. 

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