Later that evening, it became apparent the always-outspoken Brad Evans – a Sounders original and teammate of Montero's from 2009-12 – had, ah … some strong feelings about this particular edition of #CascadiaCup "Can you top this?" (The 'Caps got their clapback, don't worry.)
The concept of sports rivalries runs deep, but Evans' principled stand against suiting up for the opposition is less viable in the current sports climate. Or perhaps comes from a place of privilege, at a cost both literal (straight cash, homey) and opportunistic. Evans, since being selected in the 2008 Expansion Draft, hasn't been traded like former New York Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty or subject to the Allocation Ranking Order, as Montero was, due to his $500,000-plus transfer fee from Seattle. You can hear the reluctance to leave in McCarty's interviews, and any team ready to chase Montero first needed to negotiate with Minnesota United FC.
Historical MLS examples abound, from Landon Donovan taking the heel turn in the California Clasico to the Atlantic Cup Exchange that D.C. United and RBNY can't stop contributing toward, from Petke-for-Pope (and Moreno!) to last season's Sam-for-GAM special.
Just look at the NBA, where Kevin Durant left nine years in Oklahoma City behind for the Bay Area, in the wake of LeBron James' there-and-back-again championship-chasing exodus from Cleveland to Miami. Major League Baseball's big-money, cap-free community left Derek Jeter standing as one of the few and the proud one-teamers. The NFL's hard cap has managed to produce similar entropy from the other end of the spectrum.
And considering the amount of player movement that does exist in MLS, it's not unlikely players are squaring off with former teammates, sometimes from the previous year's championship run. Sometimes they contribute to the culture on both sides of the rivalry (we see you, Alan Gordon). Often, the league's stars have a mutual, CONCACAF-y kinship from earning national team caps.
In the rare moments of agency that exist for athletes – for any of us – the only choices to make are the ones presented. I write this as someone Jonah Keri once labelled "the basketball bigamist" in an inscription because I had recently left the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for a gig with the New York Knicks at the World's Most Famous Arena. As a Brooklyn-born, Knicks-bred NBA nut who put 4 years of equity into the Nets move across the Hudson (and 1 1/2 after) that call involved a lot of #feelings, but eventually came down to deciding the opportunity at MSG – even after the pivot from content creator to digital marketing lead – was too great to pass up.
As my wife recently pointed out: "I'll cheer for anybody that pays our bills, especially if they give me free pajamas." She's a sports mercenary, but she's stuck with whoever cuts my checks, since cake decorating is much less of a spectator sport.
That is to say, don't overlook the role that simply being wanted plays in all of this. Vancouver sent a slew of assets to MNUFC in order to score the No. 1 Allocation slot. They also probably owe Mauro Rosales a nice Cabernet after tipping them off.
For his part, Fredy seems appreciative.
Any way you cut it, April 14 is going to get interesting. Clear out the calendar, and gear up for [fire] tweets: