We are eight days from the Primary Transfer Window closing, and with it the MLS trade deadline. From May 2nd until July 10, teams cannot sign players who are currently under contract with another team, only adding free agents who are out of contract. That said, trades for non-player assets, including international roster slots, allocation money, allocation order slots and MLS SuperDraft picks, can take place outside the transfer window periods.
With an assist from National Writer Paul Tenorio, here are five trades I'd like to see:
NYCFC’s Tommy McNamara to Philadelphia
In 2018, Tommy McNamara has only gotten 38 minutes so far. He’s down to third or fourth on Patrick Vieira’s depth chart at either center attacking mid or winger. The last time McNamara held down a starting spot, however, he notched five goals and nine assists in 2016. Not breathtaking numbers, but more than the Philadelphia Union have received from an attacking mid in the last couple years.
Philadelphia signed Borek Dockal at the start of the season, but Dockal has struggled through his first five games. It takes time for a player to settle, but Philly – and head coach Jim Curtin – need to start asking themselves how much time they are willing to give. They are currently next to last in the East. The alternative choice right now, 18-year-old Anthony Fontana, might not be ready for a full-time role.
Enter Tommy Mac. He provides the nose for goal that Philly executives have been craving and he also carries himself with an edge and mentality Philly fans would love.
TENORIO'S TAKE: The big question is whether Philadelphia has the assets to get a deal done. They had a decent amount of funds, but have used a lot of Targeted Allocation Money already, sending $900,000 in TAM for David Accam, and using more to buy down contracts for both Accam and goalkeeper Andre Blake. Yet it likely wouldn’t take a huge amount to acquire McNamara; based on recent deals for Felipe and Benny Feilhaber, this should be a sub-$300,000 TAM trade. With one open senior roster spot, it wouldn’t require any additional roster maneuvering.
Portland’s Liam Ridgewell to Minnesota
And because Minnesota, who are on pace to give up the most goals in league history, could use someone to keep the ball out of the net.
TENORIO'S TAKE: This would be a difficult trade for one big reason: Ridgewell is in the final year of his contract with the Timbers, which means restructuring his deal if they were going to send anything valuable to Portland. Yes, Minnesota have immediate needs on the backline, but what is a worthwhile cost for renting a 33-year-old center back? The tension in Portland may mean Ridgewell comes cheap, which would be a plus, and the center back has a green card (Minnesota are out of international slots), though they might help offsetting salary. If Minnesota cash in on Francisco Calvo after the World Cup, however, it could be a smart short-term solution.
New England’s Lee Nguyen to Chicago
Do we need to explain this one more than it’s been discussed already? Lee Nguyen wants out of New England. The Revolution aren't playing him, either. The Chicago Fire need someone who can create anything in the attacking third. It makes so much sense it’s frustrating it hasn’t happened yet.
Reports suggest that the Fire made an offer to the Revs for roughly $750,000 in allocation money, but the Revs said "No." Anybody up for a game of chicken?
TENORIO'S TAKE: This trade makes too much sense not to happen, though some teams try to avoid intra-conference deals. Sending Nguyen to Chicago would open up more than $1 million in budget space/assets for the Revs, taking a $500,000 salary off the books and adding a hefty chunk of allocation funds to better the team, which is already playing Diego Fagundez at the No. 10. The Fire have plenty of allocation money to make this move worth it, and Nguyen is a TAM player, so he wouldn’t eat up a ton of space on their cap.
LA Galaxy’s Ema Boateng to Seattle
The Seattle Sounders need pace in the attack. Jordan Morris was their only attacker who could threaten open space and he went out injured at the start of the season. The Sounders could use another forward, as well, so they’d probably prefer a striker with pace rather than a winger. They might get that player in the transfer window either next week or in the summer. If they don’t, they may be able to turn to Ema Boateng.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival and Giovani dos Santos returning to health, the Galaxy may have too many options to accommodate. Boateng provides the pace and direct play that Seattle doesn’t have. The Galaxy, meanwhile, might decide they need a defender and would swap an attacker to get funds to find help in the defense.
TENORIO'S TAKE: This could certainly work. Seattle have two open senior roster slots, one presumably for a DP striker, and Boateng would add some badly-needed pace to the attack. Seattle have the GAM and TAM to make a deal like this work, and the price for Boateng would be the most interesting aspect of this deal. He’s got bright attacking qualities, not an international and carries a low salary number. That kind of roster-friendly, cap-friendly contributor has massive value in today’s MLS market.
Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle also had a couple ideas he wanted to throw out there:
NYCFC's Jonathan Lewis to Columbus
Columbus Crew SC haven’t gotten much production from their wings, Cristian Martinez and Pedro Santos, so far. Niko Hansen stepped in last weekend and didn’t impress much, either. Lewis is relatively untested in his short career, but he could provide an automatic upgrade if he takes to Gregg Berhalter’s system. If he doesn’t acclimate well enough to be a starter, he could offer the element of energy and pace that Columbus lack off the bench.
Currently buried on Vieira’s bench in NYC – reports surfaced that Lewis showed up late to a team event – Lewis doesn’t cost much and hasn’t done enough to warrant a sum that NYCFC could put to much use. On the other hand, maybe Vieira could never trust the kid again or wants to set an example and dispose of someone who committed a cardinal sin.
TENORIO'S TAKE: Columbus would have to do a small touch of roster maneuvering to make it all happen. Crew SC would likely look to bump a player up to the senior roster or waive someone in order to accommodate Lewis, who is a Generation Adidas player. The other question is what NYCFC would want in return for an off-budget player for whom they traded $250,000 in General Allocation Money to move up and select in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Also, Lewis has a British passport, which could mean massive value in the transfer market if they can get him going again; any trade would likely require a percentage of the sell-on.
New England's Kelyn Rowe to Seattle
The Sounders have been after Kelyn Rowe, a Seattle native, for years. I understand why any team would want to sign a player with international appearances to their hometown team, but I don’t see how it fits an immediate need. It seems like a misuse of precious allocation funds for Seattle.
Doyle disagrees: “Rowe is an above-average to very good player with the potential to be great in the right system. He can play four different positions and he’s in his prime. He could help almost any team in MLS. Especially since he’s not starting in New England and his price should be below market value. It’d be stupid for any team not to go for him.”
Rowe has only started twice this year for New England. Revs coach Brad Friedel seems to prefer other players in his midfield. Rowe is a high priced asset to keep on the bench.
But so is Lee Nguyen, so who knows?
TENORIO'S TAKE: This is all about value. How much money would it take to pry Rowe away from New England, considering he’s in his prime, has been productive in MLS and earned call-ups from the US national team not so long ago? It’s likely Mike Burns would use Justin Meram as a market-setter at 29 years old with 37 goals and and 33 assists at the time of his trade. If Columbus could fetch $1.05 million for Meram, what should New England realistically ask for in return for Rowe? Is there a player Seattle could send back the other way to sweeten the deal?