On the surface, I completely agree with Richard Farley’s initial assessment of Real Salt Lake’s acquisition of Brandon McDonald. Let me boil that down for you: “Whatever.”
Some of this is short-term relief, as Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe both remain out injured. (Watson-Siriboe for the season; Schuler has just been cleared for practice but remains weeks away from starting.) The choices to partner Nat Borchers get fairly limited past that, although Aaron Maund has responded well since his U.S. Open Cup struggles last month.
Looks like Jason Kreis has a choice between Maund and McDonald for tonight’s big meeting with Sporting Kansas City.
Further, I think we can safely assume that D.C. United will continue to eat a substantial portion of McDonald’s wildly substantial contract. That bad boy, which expires this year, guarantees McDonald (pictured, along the left) a hefty $273,000 this year. That’s just a little south of what Jamison Olave makes at New York, and when the big Colombian (formerly at RSL) is on his game he is among the most dominant back line men in MLS. Safe to say, McDonald is no Olave.
What McDonald can be, however, is an adequate MLS center back when partnered with a veteran leader to keep him out of positional trouble. And Borchers is practically gold standard when we start talking “veteran leaders” around MLS.
McDonald’s ability to fit into a locker room hasn’t always been tip-top. But early reports out of Rio Tinto are of the “model citizen” variety – and he’s certainly smart to adopt such a posture, because the guy just got thrown an absolute career lifeline.
No, McDonald will not reap a contract in 2014 anywhere near what he’s making this year. (Assuming he stays in MLS; remember, all that talk of a possible move to Europe was part of the reason he went from San Jose to United on the cheap.)
But if McDonald wants to stay in MLS, if he behaves and if he can be a useful third or fourth center back, the guy just went from one of the worst teams in MLS to one that has emerged as a legitimate contender. And that’s not a bad day’s work, is it?