With MLS free agency opening on December 16th, the rumor mill that is soccer transfer twitter has already begun to churn. The latest is that the Revs have reached an agreement with 27-year-old Colombian left back Christian Mafla.
At 9:00 am yesterday, MLS Transfer Zone reported that Mafla was set to sign with an unnamed MLS club.
Colombian left back Christian Mafla is set to sign with an unnamed MLS team. The transfer fee has been agreed upon and the player must pass a fitness test. He plays for Colombian club Atlético Nacional. He is 27-years-old and is valued at $520 thousand. (Gustavo López) #MLS pic.twitter.com/n35XuhqzvI
— MLS Transfer Zone (@MLS_ZONE) December 18, 2020
About an hour later, Colombian side Atlético Nacional confirmed that Mafla was indeed leaving the club.
El defensor de 27 años Christian Mafla no continuará en Atlético Nacional. Estuvo durante tres temporadas y media en el Club. A Christian desearle muchos éxitos en su nuevo reto deportivo.
— Atlético Nacional (@nacionaloficial) December 18, 2020
Around 12 hours later, MLS Transfers and News reported that the Revs were the unnamed team interested in Mafla.
The New England Revolution are signing Colombian fullback Christian Mafla from Nacional. He is 27 years old and it is now confirmed that the Revs were the unnamed team that he reached an agreement with. #NERevs pic.twitter.com/74o1BFkbEN
— MLS Transfers and News (@transfers_mls) December 19, 2020
To be perfectly honest, I was completely unaware that Christian Mafla existed prior to yesterday. Mafla is a left footed left back. According to TransferMarkt, he has made 60 appearances for Atlético Nacional since 2018. In the past eight seasons he has scored one goal and added two assists in 66 games. Mafla has some versatility to his game. He has been deployed as a left mid, right mid and center back along with his usual left back role.
I have to say, the reaction of Atlético fans to the news that Mafla is departing the club is not particularly encouraging. Accusations that he has stolen from the club and encouragement to take his “mediocrity elsewhere” are not exactly what I’d like to be reading. It does seem that injuries have been a concern for Mafla in the past, which might explain his lack of regular game time. Most recently, Mafla suffered a significant clavicle injury at the end of October.
However, it is pretty clear that a coach as savvy as Bruce Arena would not be bringing Mafla on board if he did not see something in him. Assuming the Mafla rumors are true, we still do not know the transfer fee or the terms of the contract. In short, there is still a lot to be determined before this move is judged.
The other significant updates on the acquisition front are that the Revs have signed free agent goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr and traded for the College Player Rights to San Jose defender Jon Bell.
The 23-year-old Bell spent the 2020 season with Revolution II. As a result, he is very familiar with the New England set up.
Edwards Jr. attended UCLA and has played professionally for a number of teams, including Orlando City and D.C. United. The 28-year-old should help provide some competition for the backup goalkeeper role. Notably, Edwards Jr. is a co-founder and board member of Black Players For Change, which suggests he will be a great voice to have in the locker room.
Considering the Revs have parted ways with 12 different players heading into the 2021 season, this free agency activity is likely to be just the beginning. With just over a month to go until the January 21st SuperDraft, the Revs have plenty of time to continue shaping their team for next season.
The next few months should be crucial for the Revs as they look to build on a successful 2020 season. Both trades and free agent signings will be on the table as Bruce Arena continues to build his roster.
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