MLS trade circuit predictably lively as offseason kicks into high gear
Remember last MLS season, when Real Salt Lake sent Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola to New York two days after MLS Cup?
Well, nothing on that blockbuster level has materialized just yet, but in the budget-conscious, overturn-heavy confines of MLS, change is almost always immediately in the offing, and the “offseason” has already started to resemble just that.
A day after parting ways with goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, the Seattle Sounders swung a trade with Toronto FC for former 1st-round draft pick and goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Seattle sent a first-round draft pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft to Toronto, which was busy in its own right on Monday evening.
TFC acquired versatile Brazilian Jackson from FC Dallas in exchange for allocation money and a conditional second-round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft. Not to be outdone north of the border, the Montreal Impact shipped captain Davy Arnaud to D.C. United for an international roster slot in 2014 and 2015, parting ways with the 33-year-old veteran.
Rampant and team-altering roster moves this time of year are common, as some teams try to balance the budget and others look to fill lineup holes with another side’s castaways. The next step in the offseason progression is next week’s MLS Re-Entry Draft, which features a slew of big names up for grabs (players can choose to opt out of the process by 5 p.m. ET Wednesday).
Former league MVPs Dwayne De Rosario, David Ferreira and Carlos Ruiz are among the 68 players on the Re-Entry Draft list, which also includes the likes of retired goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni as roster formalities. Other big names on the Re-Entry Draft list include Kenny Cooper, Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani, Chris Rolfe and Sean Franklin.
The player movement mechanism is still relatively young, but traditionally the first phase, which is more financially beneficial to the players, has yielded little player movement as teams look to avoid assuming control of a big contract number. The second phase, in which negotiations over new deals at lower salary numbers can take place, is much more team-friendly, and, as a result, has yielded exponentially more selections.
So, as always, brace yourself for continued big-player movement as preseason camps beckon sooner rather than later. MLS First kick 2014 is less than three months away.