Sporting Kansas City
Sent: Adrian Zendejas in trade to Nashville
Received: $50,000 in General Allocation Money, $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, and a 2020 International Spot (valued in the market at around $150,000-$175,000 xAM last offseason) from Nashville.
This feels like a good haul to receive for a backup goalkeeper. Zendejas only has one MLS start to his name. The bulk of his minutes have come in the USL Championship with Swope Park Rangers. Zac MacMath, to provide a reference point, went from Colorado to Vancouver for $100,000 in TAM; Maxime Crepeau moved from Montreal to Vancouver for $50,000 in TAM. Maybe SKC let go of the next great goalkeeper, but I think you have to take this type of money when it comes for your untested backup.
Medranda, though, will hurt to lose. It wouldn't be surprising to see Peter Vermes shed players this offseason, but you would have thought that Medranda, a versatile player on a manageable salary who has always felt close to becoming a stud, would have been in Vermes' plans.
Sent: Daniel Lovitz to Nashville
Received: $50,000 in GAM, $50,000 in TAM, and a 2020 International Spot (valued in the market at around $150,000-$175,000 xAM last offseason).
New coaches want their own players. Lovitz has demonstrated in the last two seasons that he's a top-half MLS left back and Nashville did well to get that type of player for less than $300,000 in xAM, but you can't blame Thierry Henry for wanting to accumulate as much allocation money as possible to build his own roster. Also, Lovitz is out of contract and you could bet someone getting consistent minutes with the US men's national team will want a raise over the $97,453 he made, according to the MLS Players' Union, in 2019.
Sent: No. 3 overall pick in 2020 SuperDraft to Inter Miami
Received: $150,000 in GAM
Sent: $150,000 in TAM, $50,000 GAM to Nashville
Received: Brandon Vazquez
Lost: Alvas Powell in Expansion Draft to Miami
First, on Powell... I imagine Cincinnati were happy to offload anyone – or ideally everyone – so they could get a chance to start their roster build again.
That leads us into the conversation for the second part: the trades. I read the news in the order it's listed above (trade with Miami first, trade with Nashville second). After the Miami part, it made total sense. Cincinnati already have supplemental options and don't need any more depth near the bottom of their roster; they don't need the draft pick. $150,000 is a fair amount for the No. 3 pick, and FCC can use that money to pile resources toward top-level talent.
The subsequent Vazquez trade surprised me, then. On one hand, as it stands, Vazquez might be the starting striker for Cincy on opening day... so, fair enough. At the same time, FCC are already stacked with "maybe they could break out!" attackers. It's time to stack some money together and go get someone in the next tier, isn't it? If Vazquez is your starter heading into the season, you're taking a leap of faith. Best-case scenario for FCC is that this signals they feel confident that they can get Fanendo Adi off their books and bring in a new elite striker to top the depth chart.
Sent: Joe Willis to Nashville
Received: Zarek Valentin, $75,000 in 2021 TAM
Here's one of those MLS opinions that I have that I have no problem typing but would probable shy away from if I had to make the actual personnel decision: Goalkeepers are a dime a dozen and unless you have one of the best in the league, don't sweat too much over them.
The margins are small and generally impossible to predict. Willis has been a solid goalkeeper for Houston over the last four years, notching 88 starts. But if you can get someone with Valentin's presence and versatility – he can play anywhere across the back four – plus an international roster spot, something that you might not be able to get later... it's a good trade to make.
Lost: Bryan Meredith in Expansion Draft to Nashville
I might think that starting goalkeepers are expendable, but I'll die on a hill for backup 'keepers. They are vital to the culture of a team. Meredith only has 11 starts in eight years in MLS, but he's been Stefan Frei's backup for both MLS Cup runs, and whatever Frei has been doing in training has been working.
Lost: Lee Nguyen in Expansion Draft to Miami
It hurts to lose a former MVP candidate, who you spent around $700,000 in xAM on just 18 months ago, for free. But for the direction LAFC seem to be going – mobile and energetic and to completely suffocate opponents in midfield – Nguyen doesn't fit that mold. He was the perfect fourth option in the middle for LAFC, but it was tough picturing him beating out any of three in front of him at this point. It could be a blessing to drop his contract.
Columbus Crew SC
Lost: Luis Argudo in Expansion Draft to Miami
Argudo has turned into one of my favorite players in the league – he works his butt off and provides a nice complement to more talented pieces around him. With that said, if you can't develop multiple players like that per year, you aren't doing your job. Argudo is a nice pickup for Miami as they build their roster, but Columbus should simply look down the line.
Lost: Abu Danladi in Expansion Draft to Nashville
It sucks to lose a former No. 1 overall pick only two years into his career. Sometimes, though, a club wants what's best for the player. Danladi has plenty of talent, it just wasn't working out for him in Minnesota. Everyone around Minnesota United had to see that. People within the soccer community generally want to see talented players make the most of their careers, so I imagine the Loons will accept fate on this one and wish the best for Danladi as he moves on.
Lost: Zarek Valentin in Expansion Draft to Nashville (later traded to Houston Dynamo)
This feels like one of those "we aren't about to get worried about losing our backup outside back" things now that turns into a "damn, we didn't know how much that guy mattered to us" thing in July.
Lost: Brandon Vazquez in Expansion Draft to Nashville (later trade to FC Cincinnati)
While Vazquez might not be the guy you want starting up top for you, he was kinda the perfect backup to Josef Martinez. He provided a little bit of something different and didn't seem to mind playing behind a star. Atlanta probably aren't freaking out, but they have some work to do to find the right guy for that specific spot.
New England Revolution
Lost: Jalil Anibaba in Expansion Draft to Nashville
The most underrated assets in MLS always have been and probably always will be (this seems to be true in other leagues around the world, as well) good, solid domestic veterans. You know exactly what you're going to get every day, they show up excited to be there and they provide an overall positive influence that outweighs their talent. Anibaba is one of those guys in MLS right now. It might not be hard to replace his FIFA rating, but the Revs will struggle to replace the person.
Lost: Ben Sweat in Expansion Draft to Miami
Given the other options available from NYCFC's roster (Jesus Medina and Sebastien Ibeagha) the Cityzens probably let out a sigh of relief, especially given that Sweat gets to return to his home state.