>Monday Lunch: Wheeling and Dealing in MLS

Posted: September 20, 2010 in mls
Tags: ,

>By Evan Ream

Yes, that’s right; there has been some wheeling and dealing right before the trade deadline this year. Three pretty big deals were made last week, two of which made a great deal of sense for both teams and one that I am not sure about. So in chronological order, let’s take a look at each deal.

Deal #1 Colorado send Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy to New York, New York sends Forward Macoumba Kandji to Colorado.
It’s official: Mehdi Ballouchy has now been involved in two of the worst trades in MLS history. The first was in 2007 when he was traded straight up from Real Salt Lake to Colorado for USA international Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman has been the best holding midfielder in MLS during the past three years for an MLS Cup winning team, while Ballouchy has been a fringe starter for the Rapids. This being said, the reason why I think this trade is so bad is because Mac Kandji is utterly useless, especially in the Rapid’s system where they already have Connor Casey and Omar Cummings. As it was, Ballouchy was the one healthy creative midfielder on Colorado’s roster, and though his production was limited, what they got in return was Kandji’s 6 career goals in 41 games. Kandji has great skill, size, and speed but he is one of the worst decision makers in the league. He constantly overcomplicates things on the field and the Red Bulls were glad to get rid of him. Luckily, they got in return the attacking midfielder that they have been searching the whole year for. Ballouchy may not be Best XI material ever, but in Hans Backe’s possession oriented system he could really flourish. We have already seen dividends with Ballouchy scoring in his debut game.
Advantage: New York (by a long shot)
Deal #2 Colorado send injured Midfielder Colin Clark and an allocation (believed to be worth $100,000) to Houston. Houston sends Midfielder Brian Mullen to Colorado.

Gary Smith is clearly in win-now mode. By sending a promising player and a ton of money for a 32 year old midfielder Smith has clearly mortgaged Colorado’s long term prospects for the chance of a title run this year. Mullen is THE hardest working outside midfielder in the league and provides invaluable leadership along with a championship pedigree to this team. After dropping off the last few years, Mullen is having his best season in a while, producing three goals already (he had three goals in the last two years combined). Mullen is a classic English-style winger who will fit right in to Gary Smith’s system. So as much as I like this deal for Colorado, why did Houston get a steal? Quite simply, Colin Clark, before he was injured last year, was the best left midfielder in MLS. Aside from this patch, Clark has been an underachieving, unconvincing player with loads of talent who never fully developed. Therefore, the reason why I like this deal is that Colin Clark essentially is Brad Davis but two years younger. Before Davis was traded to the then Earthquakes, he was a troubled kid who never fully developed. Dominic Kinnear (now the Houston coach) turned Davis into one of the best players in MLS and a fringe USMNT player. Just like how Green Bay beating Buffalo (34-7 sons) was the lock of this week, the lock of next season is that Kinnear will turn Clark into one of the best players in MLS and Houston will be championship material again. Oh and they got 100,000 dollars to spend on players.
Advantage: Houston
Deal #3 DC United send Defender Carey Talley to New York. New York sends their 2010 2nd round draft pick to DC.
This deal was the most under the radar deal the whole week and yet it could turn out to be the most important. Carey Talley is a 13-year MLS veteran who is likely to retire at the end of the season. I like this deal for DC because their season is lost. They were just mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and the US Open Cup so there is officially nothing left for them to play. They were likely to lose Carey Talley to retirement at the end of the season anyways, so they are essentially freeing up a spot to play and develop a younger player like Jed Zayner while getting a draft pick in return. New York on the other hand is in the race for the title. They are deep at most positions but before this trade happened outside back wasn’t one of them. Talley is by no means the answer for a permanent outside back problem, but the fact that he can play any position along the back line as well as fill in at defensive mid is a huge boost for New York. Luckily for them, Chris Albright has been healthy all season but if he went down, they wouldn’t have had a replacement. Even if Talley doesn’t see a minute of playing time, I like this deal just for the comfort it offers as well as the veteran presence of Talley. As San Jose proved earlier in the season by picking up Jon Busch, it is never a bad idea to pick up a veteran player even if they can’t start for you right now. Injuries happen all the time and that is why I like this deal for New York as well; the price they paid of a probable 30th or lower pick wasn’t too steep.
Advantage: Even


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