The Throw-In: Dizzied from Re-Entry madness

Twitterverse provides some answers in whirlwind day of dealings

What just happened?

That’s the reaction shared by more than a few of us after Wednesday’s frantic Stage 2 Re-Entry Draft saw the rights to 11 players change hands in less than five minutes. Then the aftermath saw another three players move, and there’s undoubtedly more to come as MLS teams keep reshaping their rosters.

There have been bigger rashes of player movement over one day in league history – take the multiple Expansion Drafts, Roster Deadline day in 2008 that saw more than a dozen players switch teams and, oh yeah, the inaugural draft in 1996 when 160 soccer players joined MLS in less than 24 hours.

But it’s rare to see a collection of such noted players – Golden Boot winners, team captains, US national-teamers, Best XI selections, MLS Cup champions and more – move so quickly in such a short span of time.

How to analyze this? It’s not easy – there’s no precedent for the Re-Entry Process, a stipulation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. So looking for sage pundit advice is almost pointless. But we can break down the immediate response and take a closer look at some of the fallout by consulting the news wire of the 21st century: Twitter.

@thechad172: The #MLSReEntry Draft might be my new favorite part of the MLS offseason. 3 months worth of free agency in 3 minutes? Yes please! #MLS

Amen, brother. It may still be a little dizzifying for most of us, but between Wednesday’s Stage 2 and last week’s Stage 1, we had two full rounds of teams getting a chance to select players in a combined less than 10 minutes.

As much fun as it is to dissect the NFL Draft, the excruciating wait between picks is akin to watching paint dry – while waiting for grass to grow and passing the time by reading Tolstoy. We may still not know what hit us, but we’ll take it.

@Seitzy1: Why hello there seattle

And goodbye, Emerald City. Seitz was officially a Sounder for all of four hours before Seattle turned around and dealt him to FC Dallas. That encapsulated the madness of the day better than anything. In one day, the onetime heir-apparent to Nick Rimando at Real Salt Lake passed through three team’s rosters – to become the heir-apparent to Kevin Hartman in Frisco.

Seitz is still just 23 and has plenty of time to develop, but he took a step backwards toward the end of the season in Philadelphia. A new start in Dallas behind arguably the best ‘keeper MLS has ever had will do him a world of good.

@Morgan_Hughes: #crew96 getting jeff cunningham and stern john back in the black and gold means we could see lord GBS back in columbus in 5-7 years. #jokes

Can’t disagree here. Brian Bliss and Robert Warzycha ditched four players last month who were all in the their mid- to late 30s: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Gino Padula and Duncan Oughton.

The Crew brass swore up and down they needed to get younger and spoke of handing the keys to the younger guys to begin a new era in Columbus. Two straight first-round exits from the MLS Cup Playoffs against lower seeds often will prompt a team to do that.

But picking the 34-year-old Cunningham? I scratched my head a bit on this one, too. The sentimental value of bringing the original Crew man back to C-bus isn’t lost on anyone. And watching Cunningham likely set the mark for the all-time scoring record in Crew Stadium could be a fun moment for Crew fans, many of who still haven’t gotten over Brian McBride picking another team for his return to MLS.

Still, this still doesn’t add up to me, even if Bliss sees Cunningham as a part-time striker who can score “nine or 10 goals,” as the GM said Wednesday. I don’t doubt Cunningham could do it, but this is a strange message to send to the fans, more of whom have bought into the “get younger” manifesto than you’d think.

@shinguardian: Galaxy starting to look like a little Celtics like here....Cobbling together star vets (JPA, 'Dinho?) for sure MLS Cup win year?

Agreed – to a point. Shinguardian is, of course, referring to the NBA team stockpiling aging stars like they’re on the sale rack at Urban Outfitters. And it worked for them, didn’t it? Boston won the 2008 NBA Finals and then made a return trip this past year. So what if they’re longer in the tooth? Celtics fans aren’t complaining.

And Galaxy fans shouldn’t, either. Dealing promising young forward Tristan Bowen across the hall to Chivas USA might have been a little alarming. But this is perhaps the most striking sign so far that MLS is maturing into a big American sporting league – salary caps quite often force teams in all sports to go for broke, because you never know if you’ll get another shot at a title.

David Beckham, Juan Pablo Angel and the growing assortment of veterans in LA are certainly not young. (And slow down there on the Ronaldinho talk, Shinny.) But if they lead the Galaxy to a third MLS Cup next November, few will be sweating betting the future for the present. Our pal Alexi Lalas probably tweeted that strategy best on Wednesday:

@alexilalas22: Galaxy go all in for 2011.

Any interest in donning a Galaxy kit again, Big Red?

Jonah Freedman is the managing editor of MLSsoccer.com. “The Throw-In” appears every Thursday.

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