Chris Klute

MLS hot stove: Offseason trades, free agent signings roll on

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Last time we checked in on the hot stove that is the MLS offseason, we were just hours into the fast and furious season of wheeling and dealing assets, but a handful of key trades had already been executed.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

As we check back in a few days later, it’s still trade after trade (after free-agent signing) after trade going down these days. A quick recap of noteworthy MLS roster moves made over the last week…

Prior to selecting Urruti with the first pick of the re-entry draft (stage one), FC Dallas acquired said position from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money. Urruti, who counted just $200,000 against the salary cap in 2015, scored five goals for the Timbers in 2015 (playoffs included), a year after bagging 10 in just 12 starts (30 total appearances). With Blas Perez out of contract and on his way out of town, Urruti will compete with David Texeira for the starting center forward spot in 2016.

[ MORE: Sale of Houston Dynamo completed ]

The reigning MLS Cup champions sold Jorge Villafana to Santos Laguna for a fee of just under $1 million, and quickly filled the gaping hole at left back by acquiring Chris Klute from Columbus Crew SC in exchange for allocation money. Klute ($82,500 cap hit in 2015), who had plenty of U.S. national team buzz around him back in 2013, racked up seven assists while playing full back for the Colorado Rapids, but saw his playing time decrease in 2014 before being traded to Crew SC last winter. He made just 14 appearances (8 starts) for Crew SC this season, but fits the two-way profile for full backs in Caleb Porter’s system to a T.

[ MORE: USMNT to face Iceland, Canada at conclusion of January camp ]

If you had Justin Mapp in your “Who will be the first free agent signed in MLS history?” office pool, you’re a winner. Mapp signed with Sporting Kansas City on Monday, giving the current U.S. Open Cup holders a much-needed injection of width and wing play heading into 2016. Mapp played in just five games in 2015 thanks to a dislocated and broken elbow suffered in the season opener back in March. In his three previous seasons with the Montreal Impact, Mapp averaged seven assists per season from 2012-2014. His salary cap hit was $186,725 in 2015, meaning he is eligible for a raise of up to 20 percent, given he made between $100,000 and $200,000 this year.

[ MORE: MLS announces $37 million investment for player signings ]

Marco Pappa was traded to the Rapids, by the Seattle Sounders, in exchange for allocation money. Pappa somehow counted just $75,000 against the cap in 2015 — that number was perhaps paid down with allocation money — after returning from a failed stint in Holland in 2014. In his first season back in MLS, Pappa scored six goals and assisted on five others, but his time in Seattle soured this season when he was arrested for DUI in July.

Colorado Rapids defender Chris Klute traded to Columbus Crew SC in draft-day exchange

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Defender Chris Klute is headed away from Colorado, ending his two-year stint at the club that included a loan move from the Atlanta Silverbacks of NASL.

Columbus Crew SC executed a trade that sent its 14th overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft to Colorado for Klute and a 19th overall pick.

The club’s official website divulged some interesting statistics detailing the play of the former Furman standout, whom Jurgen Klinsmann named to the United States’ January roster at the start of 2014.

[RELATED: St. Louis, San Antonio among cities joining race for MLS Expansion]

Klute, 24, logged 2,132 minutes over 25 appearances (24 starts) for Colorado in 2014. He led the club in crosses from open play (51) and tackles won (67), as well as ranked third on the team in touches (1,634). In 2013, Klute made a career-high 31 appearances (30 starts), registering seven assists to lead the club. He won the club’s Defensive Player of the Year award, as voted upon by his teammates and technical staff, and received mention in consideration for the MLS Best XI.

“Chris is a player we’ve been tracking for the last year,” Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement. “We identified him as a player that can fit well into our system of play. He’s a very dynamic full back that likes to get into the attack and his versatility makes him an option on either side of the field.”

With the 19th overall pick, Crew selected Jamaican defender Sergio Campbell from the University of Connecticut.

BREAKING: Óscar Pareja steps down as Colorado head coach; headed for Dallas?

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Óscar Pareja appeared in 170 MLS matches for Dallas before spending 2005-11 as an assistant coach with the club. His work in Texas propelled him forward in his coaching career when he was hired as head coach of Colorado in 2012, and now he’s stepped down as boss of the Rapids in a surprise move just two weeks before the MLS SuperDraft.

Could a return to Dallas be in the cards? Our own Steve Davis has been on these rumors for what feels like ages.

In two years with Colorado, Pareja went 24W-12D-32L but helped a turnaround in 2013 that saw the Rapids back into the postseason behind youngsters Deshorn Brown (10 goals, 4 assists) and Dillon Powers (5 goals, 5 assists). He’s also watched over Chris Klute and Shane O’Neill on their paths to the USMNT camp.

Pareja has long been speculated to be the replacement for Schellas Hyndman in Dallas, but has a clause in his contract that keeps him from becoming a head coach elsewhere for one year (barring an arrangement with Colorado). The Rapids had initially denied a request from FC Dallas to speak with Pareja regarding their opening, and it’s unclear whether any agreement’s been made that would allow the Colombian to return to Texas.

John Spencer and Robin Fraser are considered prime candidates to replace Pareja, according to a Goal.com report.

ProSoccerTalk’s MLS awards choices: Staff picks for Best XI

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We continue to roll out our choices for the league’s top defender, top goalkeeper, top rookie, MVP and more:

Today we look at ProSoccerTalk’s writer’s picks for Major League Soccer’s Best XI teams:

Steve Davis’ MLS Best XI (3-4-3):source:

  • GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • DF: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
  • DF: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • DF: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • MF: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
  • MF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • MF: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
  • MF: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
  • F: Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • F: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
  • F: Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact

Richard Farley’s MLS Best XI (4-3-3):source:

  • GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • RB: Hassoun Camara, Montréal Impact
  • CB: Aurélien Collin, Sporting Kansas City
  • CB: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • LB: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • DM: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
  • MF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • MF: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
  • FW Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • FW: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
  • FW: Camilo Sanvezzo, Vancouver Whitecaps

Joe Prince-Wright’s MLS Best XI (4-2-3-1):source:

  • GK: Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls
  • RB: DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders
  • CB: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • CB: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
  • LB: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • DMF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • DMF: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
  • MF: Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • MF: Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact
  • MF: Camilo Sanvezzo; Vancouver Whitecaps
  • FW: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

Wednesday: Defender of the Year
Thursday: Goalkeeper of the Year
Friday: Rookie of the Year
Monday: Coach of the Y
Tuesday: MLS Most Valuable Player
Wednesday: MLS Best XI

What We Learned from Seattle’s first round win over Colorado

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Seattle eliminated Colorado on Wednesday night, advancing in the MLS playoffs with a 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field. Here’s what we learned:

  • Either Oscar Pareja got it wrong, or his team didn’t execute

Actually, both. Pareja seemed to want to get German Mera into the team without sacrificing Shane O’Neill, which means sense. Shane O’Neill is a very good player.

Moving him to right back may have been about matching up with Eddie Johnson, but given Mera’s actually slightly shorter than O’Neill, there are a couple more likely explanations. Maybe Pareja just didn’t want to go with a 20-year-old, first year starter in central defense in the playoffs. Also, the Colorado boss may have seen something in Sunday’s against the Whitecaps that compelled him to made the call. In the process, however, he shook up two positions along the back, a disruption that showed during the match’s first half-hour.

That wasn’t Colorado’s only problem. Against Seattle’s narrow formation, they neglected their width, even though they should have had a huge advantage down their left. Chris Klute, however, was a none factor, with the Rapids trying to build through the middle to Gabriel Torres. Against a three-man middle that got help in the defensive phase from Clint Dempsey, Colorado was at a loss. All the speed Pareja had injected into his starting lineup went to waste.

Once we hear from the Colorado boss, we can start to lay blame. But something clearly went wrong. Either the Rapids failed to execute the plan, or the plan was destined to fail.

[MORE: Evans blast, Johnson insurance sees Seattle past Colorado, into the Western Conference semifinals]

  • Seattle’s midfield dictated the first hour

Colorado only generated three meaningful chances in the first hour, and I’m using “chances” pretty liberally. Martin Rivero got behind the defense in the first half before electing to blast a speculative shot toward the Emerald City Supporters. Near halftime, the Argentine attacker nailed a ball from 20 yards  right at Michael Gspurning. Near the hour, Deshorn Brown tried his low percentage luck from 19 yards out.

The rest of the time, Colorado couldn’t connect with Rivero. Seattle’s three true midfielders kept the Rapids from having success through the middle, while longer play was snuffed out by Djimi Traoré.

Colorado needed to go wide, and they did so occasionally. But they almost always went right, where their natural central defender was left trying to create something going forward. Meanwhile, on the other side, the league’s best left back was forgotten.

[MORE: How it happened: More details on Seattle’s big win over Colorado]

  • Colorado’s midfield disappeared

Clint Dempsey had his best night with Seattle, a huge indictment of Hendry Thomas and Nathan Sturgis. Those two should have won their battle. Instead, Dempsey was allowed to serve as a focal point for the Sounders’ attack.

Perhaps the 24th minute yellow card Silviu Petrescu showed Thomas slowed down the rugged Honduran. Or perhaps he just had a bad night. If so, he picked a terrible time to do it. Not only were the stakes higher than he’s ever seen in MLS, but his holding partner was set to go quiet, too. Thomas and Sturgis was non-factors in their two-on-one matchup.

  • Eddie Johnson is a really, really tough matchup

When he’s staying between the center backs, Johnson’s bad enough, but when he drifts into the wide areas as often as he did tonight, he forces the opposition into a lot of decisions. Unfortunately, Colorado made few correct ones tonight.

So often we saw Johnson played the ball even with or wider than Colorado’s fullbacks. Unless you want release those fullbacks to mark and pressure him (problematic in its own right), it becomes very difficult to deny him that ball. Once he has it, though, it’s probably better to deny the ball back to the midfield and show him wide, forcing a goal-scorer away from goal, forcing him to provide service for his teammates. Encourage the nature striker to go continue to drift away from where he’s most dangerous.

With that in mind, here are Johnson’s Wednesday passes and heatmap:

source:  source:

Notice how many of them are from wide positions? Particularly along Seattle’s right, it doesn’t appear as if Colorado had much of a plan for how to deal with Johnson. While most of his passes go back to the middle, he’s still able to provide a wide outlet for his midfield, one that Colorado didn’t subsequently shut down (another issue with the Rapids’ holders).

Not every forward can be effective doing this. That’s the virtue of Eddie Johnson. In a more traditional role, he has the size, strength and speed to beat you straight up. Going wide, he has the skill and versatility to play as he did tonight. Colorado didn’t adjust.

[MORE: PST Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson edges Brad Evans]

  • The Sounders will need to generate more chances in later rounds

The Sounders were the better team. They controlled the game, dictating how it was played, and player-for-player had the better performances. This was a really encouraging performance.

They also generated four shots on target. Of their two goals, one doesn’t come if Colorado’s not desperately chasing the game. The other was a great finish, but it’s also a shot we often see put out of play. That time, however, Evans came good.

Seattle took a big step forward tonight, and within that step you can see the type of team that can compete for an MLS Cup. But even though they controlled Colorado, they still have to play better. They still need to improve.

Bonus what we learned: We’ve probably seen the last of Michael Gspurning for 2013.