Costs of MLS leadership changes evident in Berry, Laba, Moffat deals

2 Comments

When ESPN analyst and United States Men’s National Team legend Alexi Lalas revealed Austin Berry cost Philadelphia only $100,000 in allocation money, fans across the league would have been right to ask why their favorite team didn’t get in on the action. A more direct question: How could Frank Yallop, handed the keys to the Chicago Fire this offseason, make that deal?

The obvious answer is probably the right one. Citing defense as an area of need when he traded for former Sounders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, Yallop didn’t appear to value Berry as highly as his predecessors. Add in the constraints of the league’s salary cap and the need to get players off the books, and Yallop may have just decided to let go. He might have wanted more for the 2012 Rookie of the Year, but with Kennedy, Bakary Soumaré, and Ianni in his squad, the desire to free up a roster spot as soon as possible may have won out.

In an ideal situation, Chicago would have planned ahead for Berry’s departure, knowing he was not a part of their long-term plan. They could have picked a time in the MLS calendar that maximized his value and gotten more than $100,000 worth of allocation. A long-term vision for not only their team but the value they could get for assets would have paid off.

But those kind of plans go out the window when a team’s decision-makers change, and while the Fire undoubtedly had a series of persuasive reasons for moving on from Frank Klopas, those types of changes don’t come without costs. Not only are you embracing the risk that your new hire won’t work, but you’re also accepting the fact that even successful transitions come with inefficiencies.

Berry represents one of those inefficiencies, something Philadelphia took advantage of with this week’s trade. Whereas the Union got a 25-year-old center back they hope can slot in beside Amobi Okugo in their starting lineup, Chicago had to accept a poor return on a player who, five months ago, appeared to be a part of their long-term plan.

source:  Then again, Chicago’s not the only team that’s had to embrace with these types of inefficiencies this winter:

  • Earlier today, Vancouver sent Daigo Kobayashi to New England, a trade that garnered a fourth round pick for a player that was on track to do little more than take up one of the team’s international slots. Under Martin Rennie, however, Kobayashi played 30 games in 2013, and while he failed to live up to the expectations cast on him when he arrived last winter, Vancouver’s willingness to accept a fourth round pick speaks to their sharp change in opinion about the Japanese midfielder.
  • In Frisco, an early offseason trade saw FC Dallas swap Kenny Cooper for Seattle’s Adam Moffat (right), a player that had been sent to the Pacific Northwest from Houston midseason in a cost-cutting move. On Jan. 10, however, Dallas hired Óscar Pareja as their new head coach, a move the precipitated this month’s trade for former Rapids destroyer Hendry Thomas. Now Moffat, thought to be making in the high $100,000-range this season, is an inefficiency, one that may not have been acquired if Pareja had been hired a month earlier.
  • And in Toronto, the transition from Kevin Payne to Tim Bezbatchenko temporarily left Argentine Matías Laba in limbo, with the Argentine midfielder becoming the fourth of three Designated Players after the Reds signed Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Brazilian striker Gilberto. On Tuesday, Laba was sent to Vancouver, forced to leave Toronto less than one year after Payne signed the 22-year-old.

The potential benefits to changing coaches, general managers, or chief executives tend to be huge, mostly because teams prone to making those moves are failing on some level. But big transitions are rarely smooth ones, and while Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver may see themselves in better hands than they did when the 2013 season ended, their winters have featured the types of inefficiencies that come with a change in approach.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
Leave a comment

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.