With the transfer/trade window open, it's officially the silly season. That means I get to make up some fake trades (to be clear: THESE ARE FAKE TRADES, NONE OF THE BELOW IS REAL) that I think would make sense for the teams involved.
Feel free to rip 'em apart and suggest your own in the comments below. I will not be offended by your steady stream of insults.
Villarreal, who's bounced from center forward to playmaker to wing in his half-decade LA Galaxy career, has always found a way to be productive no matter where he's lined up. He has five goals and nine assists in 2300 MLS minutes and, for context, those are basically the numbers Tommy McNamara put up last season for NYCFC.
Villarreal is that level talent or maybe better – his underlying, per-90 chance creation numbers are better than Tommy Mac's. And they're significantly better than Ilsinho, the guy who's currently playing as the No. 10 in Philadelphia. The Brazilian has two goals and no assists, and in his 968 minutes he's created nine chances, including one "big chance" (a chance that, by Opta's reckoning, should result in a goal). In 347 minutes this year, Villarreal's created... nine chances, including two "big chances."
And it's not just final third stuff:
Villarreal can stay deep and send runners – like, say, a rocketized Fafa Picault – through.
So why, you ask, would LA trade a guy like that? First, because his best spot is occupied by Giovani dos Santos, and his second best spot is occupied by Romain Alessandrini, and it's pretty clear that the Galaxy will always be importing high-level talent like that into attacking positions. It's going to be hard to break into that squad as a young attacker, and since Villarreal is about to turn 24 he's no longer a "young attacker." GDS is the starter at that spot, Alessandrini is a more than able back-up as a No. 10, and there are other youngsters coming through the academy who will soon factor into the rotation. If there was ever a time for Villarreal to lock down that job for real in LA, it has come and gone.
And second, because Yaro is a legitimate, top-end talent. Last year's No. 2 overall draft pick has struggled with some injuries and a little bit of loose play (not unusual for a young center back), but there's a reason he went No. 2, right? The Galaxy's central defensive corps currently consists of Jelle Van Damme and a lot of functional younger players, but none have the upside Yaro possesses in terms of shrinking the field and changing a largely passive backline into one that can and does play on the front foot.
As for why Philly would trade Yaro, there are two big reasons: Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty. They struck gold in the draft with the 21-year-old Elliott, who's been the Rookie of the Year to this point, and the soon-to-be-19-year-old Homegrown Trusty will soon be getting MLS minutes after marinating in USL with Bethlehem Steel for the last few years. Between those two youngsters, a pair of workmanlike veterans in Richie Marquez and Ken Tribbett, and super-veteran Oguchi Onyewu, the Union's central defense is suddenly pretty crowded and Yaro is suddenly something close to expendable. It's not that he's the worst player on that list – far from it – but you've got to give talent to get talent.
For what it's worth, Villarreal was mysteriously absent from the gameday 18 in LA's 3-2 US Open Cup loss at San Jose on Monday night.
Trade No. 2: Ethan Finlay to RBNY for TAM and/or GAM
According to reports, the Red Bulls are flush with allocation cash. According to rumors, Columbus are about to be flush with wingers. According to the eye test, Finlay has struggled MIGHTILY this year and could clearly use a change of scenery.
Finlay has just 1g/1a in 1179 minutes this year, but here are his previous three seasons: 11g/7a in 1900 minutes, 12g/13a in 2800 minutes, 6g/9a in 2460 minutes. He's that player – a burning, direct threat from the wing, which is a big part of what the Red Bulls are starved for.
Columbus, meanwhile, are obviously looking for defensive cohesion and chemistry more than anything else. TAM and GAM can help with that in terms of possibly bringing in a new face, or buying your way out of a couple of mistakes.
Trade No. 3: Khiry Shelton to D.C. United for TAM and a 2018 international slot
D.C. revived their 2016 season by prizing a little-used former first-round draft pick away from NYCFC in exchange for some GAM and the temporary use of an international slot. Why not see if lightning can strike twice in the same place?
Shelton has spent most of 2016 injured, so he's played just 62 minutes. Plus the writing is on the wall, anyway, as since drafting Shelton second overall in 2015, 1) NYCFC took a winger with their to pick in 2016 (Jack Harrison); 2) struck gold using McNamara on the wing; 3) brought the invaluable Rodney Wallace back to MLS; 4) signed Panamanian youngster Miguel Camargo; and 5) traded a ton of allocation money to move up and take Jonathan Lewis No. 3 overall in the 2017 SuperDraft.
Where, exactly, does Shelton stand on the depth chart even if healthy? A guy who went for 4g/9a in just 1160 minutes last year is too good an asset to sit on, and D.C. are too desperate for a winger on the right side of 30 for there not to be some mutual interest.
That international slot United traded to the Cityzens comes back home at the end of the season, as in the rights revert back to D.C. on 12/31/2017. Extend it for another 12 months and add in a slice of TAM, and I bet you've got a deal.
Here's a list of some other potentially tradeable players:
- Kei Kamara, FW, New England Revolution
- Yura Movsisyan, FW, Real Salt Lake
- Darwin Ceren, DM, San Jose Earthquakes
- Russell Teibert, CM, Vancouver Whitecaps
- Sean Franklin, RB, D.C. United
- Gyasi Zardes, FW/W, LA Galaxy
- Juninho, DM, Chicago Fire
- Waylon Francis, LB, Columbus
- Dillon Powers, CM, Colorado
- Armando Cooper, CM, Toronto FC
- Cristian Higuita, DM, Orlando City