We should have known the day before the MLS SuperDraft would be busy on the player movement front. Teams are making their last second moves ahead of tomorrow’s festivities, with one of those movies landing one of the league’s best destroyers in a new home.
Jeff Larentowicz is the type of player every coach wants. He’s an intelligent, reliable veteran who reads the game as well as anybody playing at the base of midfield. He may be limited in what he provides going forward, but even there you can count on him to be sensible. In a league where experience with different styles, surroundings, and game conditions matters, Larentowicz’s experience can ground a team.
For his coaches, the 29-year-old is a set it and forget it player. You know what you’ve got. You just write his name in. He takes care of the rest.
As of Wednesday, Chicago’s Frank Klopas has got that player. According to reports, the Fire sent the 11th pick in Thursday’s SuperDraft and allocation money to Colorado for the four-time U.S. international.
(UPDATE: Colorado is also sending the 30th overall pick to Chicago while the Rapids receive and international slot. If this deal had the future rights to a designated home grown player, it would be the most MLS trade ever.)
The move creates a small logjam at the base of Klopas’s midfield, but given the price for a borderline all-star, you make the deal and ask questions later. At least, if you think Larentowicz is worth the $200,000 cap hit he brings (and these things are always debatable), you pull the trigger.
Will Larentowicz fit in with Pavel Pardo and Logan Pause? We’ll find out, but questions about how that trio will divide playing time shouldn’t derail this kind of deal. Add recently acquired Joel Lindpere to the mix and Klopas is suddenly overloaded with players who can man the middle.
On the other end of this deal, you can’t help but think Colorado’s hitting the reset button. Larentowicz, Conor Casey, and Omar Cummings — all major parts of the team’s 2010 MLS Cup winner — have been moved this offseason. With Edson Buddle, Atiba Harris, and Hendry Thomas (who joined at the end of last season) brought in, the Rapids appear to be shuffling the deck.
On the surface, it looks like change for change’s sake. The new trio cost about $100,000 less in base salary (using 2012 numbers), but would you take them over the three who left? Consider the Rapids weren’t going anywhere with their 2012 squad, this might be the devil you don’t know.
That’s not to say the three veterans should be painted with the same brush. Whereas Casey was expensive and injured and Cummings seemed to have lost his way, Larentowicz was still a valuable contributor. You can shake things up, ditch some of the old parts, but still keep what works, particularly with Pablo Mastroeni coming off an injury-filled campaign.
Maybe Colorado sees Nathan Sturgis as the cover they need. Or perhaps there’s some can’t miss prospect at 11 they don’t want to miss. We should at least acknowledge that as a possibility.
Whatever the reason, Colorado decided to move on. And Chicago is better off for it.