Going into the MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia, D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper had one young prospect in his mind – only that player wasn’t on anyone’s draft boards.
“My goal was to get [Yamil] Asad,” Kasper told MLSsoccer.com.
The discussions to acquire Asad had already been eventful.
Per league sources, Atlanta Unitedmade Asad an offer after the 2017 season but the player turned the deal down. Trade discussions started with multiple MLS teams. Then Atlanta circled back and made another offer to Asad – a multi-year guaranteed contract that would have, on average, more than doubled Asad’s 2017 salary. Asad’s asking price rose again. Talks broke down once more.
D.C. United were ready to pounce.
Kasper’s draft-day maneuvering put his team in a position to make the Asad move a reality. D.C. traded the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 SuperDraft to LAFC for $100,000 in General Allocation Money and another $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. Then they sent the rights to Homegrown midfielder Eryk Williamson to the Portland Timbers for another $100,000 in GAM and $100,000 in TAM, plus an international roster spot and a second-round draft pick.
With $400,000 of allocation money and an international spot secured, D.C. picked up the phone one more time to work out a deal with Atlanta, Asad and Velez Sarsfield, the midfielder’s club in Argentina.
Asad with ATLUTD | USA Today Sports Images
The price D.C. paid was a considerable investment – at least $500,000 in allocation money ($300,000 GAM, $200,000 TAM over two years) to Atlanta, $300,000 in loan fees for Asad and $400,000 in salary, per a league source. That doesn’t include another potential $700,000 to Velez at the end of the season to make it a permanent move and an extra $100,000 in TAM to Atlanta in 2020, should Asad play in an MLS game that year.
For Kasper, however, the significant outlay was worth it.
“He did a lot of work for [Atlanta],” Kasper said. “His pressure is very good. He’s a chance creator. He makes plays in the attacking third. He can score goals, he can thread balls. We like what he brought to the table. His energy, he’s an honest two-way player, he plays multiple positions. We liked his age and half the battle is knowing when they move to the league whether they can make the transition and have an impact. We knew he could do that in this league.
“We gave up quite a bit of money, GAM and TAM, to get him. When you factor in what we gave Atlanta and [Velez], the value to get a 23-year-old player in Argentina who is playing at a club like Velez; they do multi-million dollar transfers every year. We were quite happy with the economics.”
After nearly returning to ATLUTD twice this offseason, Asad will be back in the ATL this weekend – only this time wearing the black and red of another MLS team when he takes the field on Sunday (3 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US | MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
D.C. was ecstatic to add Asad to their overhauled team, and Asad scored in his debut last weekend in a 1-1 draw against Orlando City. The Argentine midfielder’s two-way work rate and ability to create goals in the final third was the perfect complement for an attacking midfield line that already included US national team midfielder Paul Arriola and Argentine playmaker Luciano Acosta.
Teams try to find a player for their future on MLS draft day. D.C. feel they may have done better than anyone else with their “top pick.”
“It was a young guy we can have for a long time,” Kasper said. “He hasn’t reached his ceiling. This is the kind of player we want right now.”