The New England Revolution have a serious defensive problem, which I wrote about here and here on consecutive weeks. The problem? They have one first-team center back, Jose Goncalves, on their roster. That’s quite a problem.
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If they hope to make any noise in this year’s playoffs, it must be addressed. So, I, a Fake MLS General Manager, am here to present to you (and the Revs) a few Fake MLS Trades.
The assets: Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies — With the arrival of Kei Kamara, who’ll start 90 percent of the season’s remaining games at center forward, there’s just not enough minutes to go around for everyone else — particularly Davies, who can only play through the middle; at least Agudelo can play wide left, though it’s not his best position.
(Reminder: The maximum cap charge for a Designated Player contract is $457,500. Anything above that number doesn’t count toward a team’s salary cap.)
Simple and practical
Charlie Davies to New York Red Bulls; Damien Perrinelle, or Ronald Zubar and allocation money to New England Revolution
The numbers: Davies – $108,000 base salary; Perrinelle – $140,000 base salary; Zubar – $240,000 base salary
The rationale: Depending on how the Red Bulls view Perrinelle following his torn ACL during last year’s playoffs, he might or might not be available. If available, Perrinelle is the preferred option (assuming health), hence the inclusion of allocation money if it’s Zubar heading the other way. Davies wouldn’t be walking into a starting job — that still belongs to Bradley Wright-Phillips — but he’d at least be the first forward off the bench, whereas he’s third in the pecking order in New England.
Juan Agudelo to Orlando City SC; Antonio Nocerino and allocation money to LA Galaxy (Orlando City also send allcation money to New England Revolution); Leonardo and 2017 first-round SuperDraft Pick to New England Revolution
The numbers: Agudelo – $425,000 base salary; Nocerino – $600,000 base salary; Leonardo – $160,000 base salary
The rationale: First of all, are three-team trades legal in MLS? I can’t recall ever seeing one, but for the purpose of this exercise, let’s say they’re standard operating practice.
The allocation money that Orlando sends out is their way of saying, “we messed up,” by signing Nocerino to a DP-sized contract, which they get out from under for the duration of the deal, for a pair of one-time fees; it also helps to offset the $290,000 difference between Nocerino and Leonardo’s cap charges. Leonardo isn’t the most stable — or even healthy — player in MLS, but he’s a decent veteran fix for this season, and a replacement-level third center back next year, plus the flexibility of allocation money and an extra pick in next year’s draft — perhaps to be used on a center back.
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Let’s shake up the league
Juan Agudelo to FC Dallas; Victor Ulloa and allocation money to Sporting Kansas City; Matt Besler to New England Revolution
The numbers: Agudelo – $425,000 base salary; Ulloa – $130,000 base salary; Besler – $700,000 base salary
The rationale: Mostly I just think Oscar Pareja should be the Agudelo whisperer, because that would be great for the U.S. national team, and FCD, of course. Ulloa would (finally) give Sporting KC a fourth central midfielder capable of forcing his way into their three-man rotation, and they get out from under a DP cap charge for a center back who’s lost his starting job to Lawrence Olum.
The problem: Besler has a no-trade clause in the DP contract he signed following the 2014 World Cup. Chances are, he’s not agreeing to a trade that sends him to Foxborough. Perhaps another raise (what’s a little more money beyond his maxed-out cap charge?) and a fresh start away from Peter Vermes would be enough to convince him otherwise.
Conclusion: The market for MLS-experienced center backs isn’t great — there’s simply not a lot of great defenders around right now, let alone as spare parts (hence the bevy of three-team trades) — which makes trading an asset as valuable as Agudelo or Davies — again, their best assets, by a mile — rather tricky.