Analyzing the Impact/Red Bulls deal: Is Kljestan worth losing Alexander?


Analyzing Tuesday’s deal that sent a number of valuable assets from the New York Red Bulls to Montreal for Felipe Martins and the top spot in the allocation order is difficult to evaluate on the surface, even with the knowledge that it puts New York in the driver’s seat in pursuit of Sacha Kljestan.

That’s because on the surface, Montreal won the trade handily. But that’s not the focus here, as Ali Curtis and Jesse Marsch continue to revamp the Red Bulls after the sudden firing of Mike Petke earlier this month.

[ MORE: NYRB wanted to hire Marsch, not fire Petke ]

Marsch, in theory, lands his former Chivas USA teammate in Kljestan and, in certainty, nabs Martins, who played for him during his one-year stint as Montreal boss in 2012.

But in furthering his imprint on the Red Bulls, has Curtis lost a bit of the plot? Kljestan, 29, has struggled for playing time at Anderlecht. Yes, he’s been a solid contributor for the Belgian power until recently, but is he a major upgrade over Alexander, three years Kljestan’s junior?

Belgium’s top flight, the Jupiler League, is the 11th ranked league in Europe, 10 coefficient points behind even the Eredivisie. For comparison’s sake, the Jupiler League is 10 points ahead of nations like Romania, Czech Republic and Israel. So, yes, there’s a gulf.

Meanwhile, Martins is a one-dimensional player who, while capable of the sublime, has a horrific possession score in Squawka and a below-average defensive acumen. Granted the Impact weren’t very good, but the advanced stats say Martins was the 11th most valuable player on Montreal.

Compare that with Alexander, the sixth best Red Bull in 2014/15. A big part of New York’s engine under Petke, Alexander is a complete midfielder whose nine assists were second only to Thierry Henry on New York’s stat list. His 34 games played tied Luis Robles for most on the team, and his 30 starts were third to Robles and Lloyd Sam.

And Oyongo, at just 23, has made an impact — no pun intended — for the Cameroon national team, scoring his first international goal this month at the Africa Cup of Nations. Montreal had a major need in defense, and Oyongo landed in New York despite interest from Lille.

It already feels like Montreal has a major chance to be the winner in this deal, and that’s before they do anything with the allocation money.