The new home for Edson Buddle was coming. That much was apparent after a healthy stretch run in which he still managed only spot minutes for the LA Galaxy, and in which you could argue that his biggest contribution was getting out of the way (see the below counterattack goal). I love good off-the-ball movement, but you need more than that from a starting forward on a title team.
Here's my breakdown of Friday's deal, which saw the veteran forward move from LA to Colorado.
What it means for LA
It's Robbie Keane's team now. And the Irishman just never quite jibed with Buddle, who returned from Germany and was mostly ineffective and looking kind of lost all season.
This is an important transition to note, since Landon Donovan and Buddle have had a pretty significant amount of success together. They won one Supporters' Shield in 2010, nearly won one in '09 as well and, of course, were a missed penalty kick away from an MLS Cup title in '09.
GOAL: Classic Galaxy counterattack
They also played in the 2010 World Cup together, and go all the way back to 2007 on the Galaxy, with the only blip being Buddle's season-long stop at Ingolstadt in the 2.Bundesliga — a transfer that's largely considered a failure. But it's worth noting that he scored nine goals in 31 appearances, half as a substitute, for Ingolstadt. Not Zlatan Ibrahimovic numbers, certainly, but it's not like he was a speed bump. He just didn't quite fit.
And he doesn't quite fit with Keane. With Beckham gone, and Donovan on his vision quest, Bruce Arena needs someone who does fit with Keane. Chances are it'll be someone a little more dynamic off the ball, and a little less of a big-man-in-the-box presence. Maybe it even signifies a level of confidence in youngsters Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal, both of whom have shown some serious game over the past 12 months.
More likely, though, it means there's a big-name forward coming. Or that Donovan's journey into his own mind is going to be more abbreviated than first suspected.
By the way: No, you can't play Kaká and Keane as forwards together. I could see it working in a 4-3-2-1, but in that case, they'd both be on the "2" line and whoever's the "1" is going to have to run themselves into the ground for 90 minutes at a clip.
The good news, though, is that they now have the cap space and a bunch of allocation money to go after quite a few different options.
What it means for Colorado
I wrote earlier in the week about how Oscar Pareja's team had a lot of the pieces for a 4-3-3, which he badly wants to play, in place, but really lacked that No. 9, that center forward fulcrum necessary to build the whole thing around. Almost every team that plays a possession 4-3-3 does that (note how effective Sporting KC are with C.J. Sapong, who's masterful at holding the ball up and bringing the wingers into the play), and the Rapids were kind of spinning their wheels at that spot.
GOAL: Buddle header reclaims lead
Now, he's not the perfect solution. He's a good, not great passer, a streaky finisher, and doesn't stretch the defense all that much. But he's more mobile than Conor Casey and a better fulcrum than Omar Cummings. If Buddle's in burgundy, it means the rest of the Rapids gets more looks running at goal instead of having to do the dirty work themselves.
There's also the small matter of goal scoring. Buddle's not young anymore — he turns 32 in May — but he still has life in his legs and looked good attacking crosses the few times the Galaxy played that way in the second half of the season. With Pareja's set-up expected to feature a couple of overlapping fullbacks, as well as Martín Rivero's pinpoint set piece service, this could end up being the perfect fit for a guy who really has produced everywhere he's gone.
So. .. win-win. I think most neutrals would rather have seen it win(Colorado)-lose(Galaxy), but LA didn't get to the top by making dumb trades.
The Rapids, like everybody else, are just trying to catch up.