The season may be over, but there was plenty of action in Major League Soccer this past week.
The offseason hit the ground running with a flurry of trades, a 10-round expansion draft followed by nearly half of the 20 draftees being traded, and a first look at the rosters (and approaches) of the league’s newest teams, Portland and Vancouver.
Also, in this edition, the Postgame casts a glance at American players overseas, and the historic day looming for soccer fans on Thursday.
Let’s dive right in.
[inline_node:324042]The Portland Timbers selected Dax McCarty from Dallas with the first pick of last week’s Expansion Draft, and immediately shipped the midfielder to D.C. United in exchange for defender Rodney Wallace and a fourth-round pick in January’s SuperDraft.
That set the theme for Wednesday’s proceedings, as the expansion teams avoided the big names available in the draft and unleashed a dizzying array of trades involving modest-pedigree players.
After McCarty, Portland traded expansion picks Anthony Wallace (back to Colorado, for allocation money) and Arturo Alvarez (to Real Salt Lake, for a second-round pick in the SuperDraft).
Timbers brass also announced that they were closing in on a playmaking central midfielder, currently based in Europe, who would “be one of the best midfielders in the entire league,” according to Portland technical director Gavin Wilkinson.
Wilkinson also said the Timbers were in talks with “a proven goal-scorer who has been successful overseas.” Stay tuned.
Portland added a couple of wrinkles to Wednesday’s event by selecting Jonathan Bornstein, who has a deal to join Mexican club Tigres UANL in January, and Robbie Findley, who has expressed an interest in playing in Europe. If either of these US internationals decides to return to MLS, the Timbers will hold their rights.
Cap and Trade
The Vancouver Whitecaps also traded their top pick in the Expansion Draft, sending former Seattle winger Sanna Nyassi to Colorado in exchange for an international roster spot.
[inline_node:323599]Vancouver drafted three other attacking players—Alejandro Moreno, Alan Gordon and O'Brian White—and promptly shipped all three out of town for allocation money. Moreno, plucked off the Philadelphia roster, went to Chivas USA, while Gordon was traded back to Chivas USA, and White, drafted from Toronto FC, was sent to Seattle.
The Whitecaps already held the No. 1 pick in January’s SuperDraft, and they made yet another trade over the weekend to acquire an additional first-round pick in that draft from Toronto FC. Vancouver sent former Seattle midfielder Nathan Sturgis to Toronto in exchange for the eighth overall pick.
The Caps also signed three players from their USSF D-2 roster, leaving their holiday-weekend scorecard looking like this come Monday:
- Nine players on their official MLS roster (including veteran goalkeeper Joe Cannon and US international center back Jay DeMerit)
- Two new international roster spots (from Chivas USA and Colorado)
- Two new allocation-money deposits (undisclosed amounts from Pillly and Chivas USA)
- One additional first-round SuperDraft pick (to go with the No. 1 overall pick)
Wheeling, Dealing, and Reeling?
The Expansion Draft was by no means the only MLS location that resembled the New York Stock Exchange last week.
[inline_node:312851]Less than 24 hours after winning MLS Cup 2010, Colorado sent center back Julien Baudet and 21-year-old defender Danny Earls to Seattle in exchange for veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas.
The day before the Expansion Draft, Portland made their first trade as an MLS franchise, sending a third-round SuperDraft pick to New York for defender/midfielder Jeremy Hall.
Columbus dealt veteran midfielder Brian Carroll to Philadelphia in exchange for allocation money and a conditional second-round pick in the SuperDraft. The Crew also lost midfielder Adam Moffat and defender Eric Brunner in the Expansion Draft. Tough times in Columbus.
Beleaguered Toronto FC continued their housecleaning, waiving five players—including striker and DP Mista—and acquiring Sturgis in the trade with Vancouver one day after losing White in the Expansion Draft.
The USA Bid Committee for FIFA World Cup 2022, led by Honorary Chairman President Bill Clinton, will make its case in Zürich on Wednesday—and learn its fate on Thursday.
Competing with the US to host in 2022 are Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.
FIFA will announce the hosts for the 2018 World Cup on the same day, from a group of candidates that includes England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal.
In other words, Thursday is a huge day. HUGE! It will be a watershed moment for soccer, not only in the US, but also worldwide.
Think of the momentum a 12-year buildup to the World Cup would give soccer in this country. MLS is already in a good position, with a steadily rising standard of play, and three more teams set to join in the next two years. Adding the World Cup to the horizon would provide an immeasurable boost, from the grassroots to the corporate level.
[inline_node:321315]But the benefits would extend far beyond the States. As Commissioner Don Garber told The New York Times, awarding the Cup to the US would “unleash the power of 320 million consumers who are intrigued by and excited about this sport.”
While that would obviously be tremendous for the US and MLS, it could also lock down a new frontier for soccer, and reenergize the game on a global scale.
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