A mechanism created by the MLS Players Union and Major League Soccer, the new collective bargaining agreement was intended to create expediency for players in contract limbo. What Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft gave us today was nine minutes of a virtual free-for-all in what was essentially an open market -- nestled, of course, within the confines of the league’s single entity structure.
With 32 players available for the draft, 11 were quickly selected by nine MLS clubs. Now that the dust's begun to settle, here's what I observed.
With the option of Jeff Cunningham declined, the 13-year veteran returns to the club where it all began: Columbus Crew. With 132 career goals in the coffer, the 35-year old still has the ability to provide goal scoring punch to several teams at the right price. Used in reserve for FCD after the arrival of Colombian striker Milton Rodriguez, the pacy forward scored 11 goals during the 2010 campaign.
With Cunningham's arrival, the Crew immediately become more athletic up top. Can he provide a handful of goals -- I'd say in the range of seven to 10 is realistic -- for the Crew? Can he start as many as half of the games in 2011 (he'd have to in order to make the impact the Crew are looking for)? For the right price he is certainly worth the chance, and it may bolster the Eastern Conference club that has been rebuilding this offseason.
In return, FCD has spoken about the desire to pick up a striker, and his departure might allow the flexibility to bring one in that can start and get a similar number of goals. I believe that is a top priority for the Western Conference Champions.
Chris Seitz was linked to FC Dallas during pre-draft chatter. So what does he provide for Seattle, who selected him as the ninth pick in the draft (FCD missed out at 15)? It is a similar goalkeeping situation in Seattle as it is in Dallas. Seitz was thrown into a starting situation last season in front of a porous Philadelphia Union defense. He has the tools, but still needs further seasoning. FCD had a terrific season defensively and the young goalkeeper could be served well at either club by being brought along by experienced professionals. For Seitz it will be about learning this season, and taking the reigns later.
Juan Pablo Angel
In typical fashion, the LA Galaxy stole the show when they traded with Houston at the last minute to receive a better position in the draft. The move was made so that Bruce Arena could select the same player he enticed in moving to MLS just four years ago -- Juan Pablo Angel. One question here: What did Houston get in return for allowing a Western Conference foe the opportunity to bolster their squad? The answer is not much (a fourth-round draft pick in 2014).
On the other side of the coin, I sure would hate to be the number cruncher for LA with the acquisition of another high-priced, DP-level player. Is JPA willing to take a pay cut to make the move to the west coast? The quality of life for the Colombian, and desire to play again for a manager that wants you, could make negotiations go much smoother. One thing is for sure, as big brother the Galaxy need to make sure they thank Houston for that one.
In summary, it looks as though the Re-Entry draft is serving its purpose: to present players who still have value exactly what they are eager to have at the end of a season -- options. Can the 11 players selected now play at a level that is comparable to their value? If so, then it is a perfect remedy for all.
December has a whole new life, and the drama that unfolded in only nine minutes may pay dividends for any team in 2011.
The recently announced move by LA to trade Tristan Bowen, who had been the club’s first homegrown player, to Chivas USA in exchange for allocation money is a move meant to pay down the wage that JPA would command. At almost the exact same time, LA picked up the serviceable Frankie Hejduk from Sporting KC. Hejduk is nearing the end of a fantastic career and would probably play for a nominal number in order to partake in the extracurricular activity he loves so much -- surfing. Right back depth and locker room character prove valuable these days.
FC Dallas has now also made a move with Seattle to improve their goalkeeping situation. Chris Seitz has a perfect scenario waiting for him in Frisco. With a crowded CONCACAF schedule in 2011, FCD will be able to get him proper games to test the rate at which he is developing. Hartman still has good years in front of him, and FCD now has an insurance policy with the young talented goalkeeper.
Follow Bobby Rhine on Twitter @bobbyrhine.