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Lagerway evokes ‘Moneyball’ to explain Brandon McDonald’s acquisition

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Brandon McDonald was a major part of D.C. United’s success last season, but amid the downturn at RFK this season, he lost his spot. Before this morning’s trade, the former LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes defender hadn’t played a Major League Soccer game since June 15. Even on the league’s worst team, McDonald had become expendable.

That Real Salt Lake, a team sitting at the opposite end of the Supporters’ Shield standings, took a chance on McDonald was the surprise. Though RSL’s dealing with some injuries at the back (Aaron Maund, Carlos Salcedo, and Chris Schuler out), they have enough to scratch through Saturday’s visit from Sporting Kansas City without adding McDonald to the roster.

But instead of waiting that out, general manager Garth Lagerway’s giving up a third-round pick (2014) and a conditional choice (2015) for the 27-year-old.

“The basic premise of ‘Money Ball’ (sic) is that you try to acquire undervalued assets,” was Lagerway’s curious explanation for a player with a $235,000 base salary. “We’ve had a long track record of picking up pieces that other people don’t want anymore and cultivating their talents …”

That’s indisputable. Lagerway and head coach Jason Kreis consistently take other teams’ cast offs are turn then into valuable depth, with Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Lovel Palmer, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson, Abdoulie Mansally and Josh Saunders all giving Kreis meaningful minutes this season. With that track record, RSL deserve the benefit of the doubt with McDonald.

How much of a benefit they deserve all comes down to length of McDonald’s contract. Because terms of the extension he signed in 2011 weren’t disclosed, we don’t know how long McDonald has left on his deal. If his contract runs beyond this season, this is a bad deal for an RSL team who will have to carry that cap hit into 2014. If, however, McDonald is in the final year of his deal, Lagerway may have decided the less than $100,000 the team owes McDonald is the best use of their remaining cap space.

If that’s the case, this does have the look of a Billy Beane-esque deadline deal, looking beyond what would otherwise be a bad contract to see the short-term benefits. And if short-term benefits are the only things RSL have to absorb from this deal, McDonald may prove more valuable than the throwaway picks it cost to get him.

WATCH: Carrasco levels Champions League final, finds partner for long kiss

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Yannick Carrasco of Atletico Madrid celebrates afte scorig the equalizing goal during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Milan on a starry night sounds romantic. Add in a massive match-tying goal, and it was all too much for Yannick Carrasco.

The 22-year-old Belgian attacker got on the end of Juanfran‘s cross and beat Keylor Navas at the near post.

[ MORE: Griezmann’s PK miss ]

In celebration, Carrasco raced toward a pitch side suite and into the arms and lips of what we presume is his partner for a gift that must count as much as a few dozen roses (but probably smelled much worse).

WATCH: Griezmann misses Torres-won PK in huge Champions League moment

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid speaks to head coach Diego Simeone during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Frankly, Antoine Griezmann embodied the Atletico Madrid attack in the first half, so it was no surprise when he stepped up to the penalty spot early in the second half.

Fernando Torres had won a penalty kick from Pepe after the Portuguese back stamped on his ankle in the 46th minute, and Greizmann got Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas going the wrong direction before cranking the ball off the bar.

[ MORE: Hull City snares last PL spot for 2016-17 ]

The miss looms large.

Argentine star Messi leaves Honduras match with back injury

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  (L-R) Jose Juan Vazquez #23 of Mexico and Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina during a international friendly at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi left the field with a back injury in the second half of a 1-0 victory over Honduras in a friendly Friday night.

The Argentine team captain and Barcelona star was hit on an apparently inconsequential play and immediately went to the locker room. He was replaced at the 62-minute mark by Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and never returned to the field.

“Messi suffered a trauma to the left side of his lower back and rib cage,” the Argentine Football (Soccer) Association said in a statement, adding that doctors were looking at the injury.

[ MORE: Hull City snares last PL spot for 2016-17 ]

Messi is not a player who leaves the field with minor injuries like he did Friday at San Juan’s Bicentenario stadium.

“I would not dare to venture a diagnosis,” said a concerned Argentine manager, Gerardo Martino.

Gonzalo Higuain, who scored for Argentina, said it “was an important win and here’s hoping that what happened to Leo is nothing.”

Messi was scheduled to fly to Spain to resolve a tax issue and then rejoin the team in Santa Clara, California.

Hull City secures PL position next season

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Ross Wallace of Sheffield Wednesday make a break during Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final match between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Mohamed Diame was the hero on the day for Hull City, as the Tigers gain promotion to the Premier League next season.

The Senegalese attacker sent Sheffield Wednesday packing on Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium after hitting a scorching long-distance effort past goalkeeper Kieren Westwood in the second half.

After an initial back-and-forth spell of chances over the opening half hour-plus, Sheffield was drastically taken out of the match as Hull began to gain their composure on the ball.

Hull City will join Championship winners Burnley and Middlesbrough in the Premier League in 2016-17 after being promoted. Relegated clubs Newcastle, Norwich City and Aston Villa will take their place in England’s second flight.

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