3 Drafts, 3 transfer windows, 3 signings, 1 new player. MLS!!!!
So, we’re clearly a week too late with the launch of this thing aren’t we? Oh well. The MLS Cup final is done, and with that, we can finally move on past the bloody big shambles of the 2014 season. Time to start looking ahead to 2015 with the wide eyed wonder of a child; a fresh start, so many possibilities, just how will it go wrong this time?
The league wasted no time getting into the spirit of things, in it’s own magnificently MLS way, and the off season really is when MLS is a viking! Transfer window, draft, draft, transfer window, draft, transfer window, all swimming in allocation money and at the end of it all, where did TFC end up? Slightly ahead of where they started, maybe, depending on how optimistic you are about injury plagued players suddenly finding the key to continued health.
First order of business was a tiny transfer window, 4 hours, a gloryhole if you will, with TFC waggling their junk at Aurelien Collin and Nat Borchers (and perhaps others they didn’t publicly admit to) and apparently impressing neither of them, thus the first chance to bring in a needed quality centre back was lost. Then it was on to the expansion draft. There were plenty of questioning eyebrows to be raised at the protected list, mainly in Kyle Bekker’s direction, while exposing Mark Bloom seemed an unnecessary risk to take. Dan Lovitz (who I should point out was on VMP’s theoretical protected list) got picked up by New York City, which meant Mark Bloom got to be bumped up to the protected list and no-one else got selected. It certainly could have been worse, see DC or New England, but losing Lovitz left it a tie rather than a fully intact win.
Then there was the waiver draft, nothing happened there and the next transfer window opened up and TFC signed a youngish up and coming player moving into his 2nd MLS season. Yes some funny money sent NYC’s way meant that Dan Lovitz was back as a TFC red and in essence TFC lost nobody. Couple of ways to look at that. Either a) The braintrust gambled that no-one would be picked, and lost, thus having to cough up some cash to get Lovitz back, or b) Tim Bezbatchenko is some kind of GM jedi who did his homework, figured everything out, made a deal beforehand and played the draft and the rest of the league like a fiddle, using merely a bit of allocation money to effectively protect 13 players and end up with his squad intact. That was certainly how the club presented it and many fans seemed all too happy to go along with that. Whatever the case may be, we got a good result, so I’m comfortable with just moving on.
Moving on to what? Well, firstly, this article from Sportsnet’s masterchef John Molinaro that showed just how wrong everyone who laughed at Bekker’s protetction was. See, everyone wants him, he was a hot commodity, we’re lucky to have him etc etc. All that info from ‘a source close to Bekker’, so maybe his agent, Bezbatchenko perhaps, maybe the dude who sat next to Kyle on the GO train back to Oakville after TFC’s holiday party, who knows really? Either way, a totally impartial view that shows us just how awesome he is and just how right TFC were to protect him, so you just stop your doubting right now young man!
Next up was the Re-entry draft, where all the mopes who couldn’t prove their worth last season (and whoever from Chivas who didn’t get picked in dispersal or waiver drafts) got to hope that someone else might be inclined to look back at their past achievements that got them the excessively high contracts in the first place and give them another go. Nothing ever happens here so move along, and whoa, something did happen, TFC using their 6th pick to be one of 3 teams making a selection, picking up Robbie Findley from Real Salt Lake.
US international forward, with World Cup appearance no less, and with a stint in England interrupting a lot of MLS experience, still only 29 years old, and we picked him up for nothing! Didn’t even have to spend any allocation money. Al those things are true, and there’s definitely an upside to this, it’s a risk with potentially a good reward, but you can’t help but look at the fact that in 2011-14 he didn’t really catch on with Nottingham Forest in the Championship, or with RSL back in MLS. He’s played 73 times and scored 10 goals in the last 4 years. Picking him in the first phase of the Re-entry draft means we don’t get to re-negotiate his contract, $215,000 base last season as per the Union, so um, yeah, that’s a lot of cap space, there’s potential for this to go very wrong.
They weren’t done there though, with one last, rather surprising, move, announcing that they’d re-signed Bright Dike. Initially announced as one of the players who didn’t have his option picked up, Dike pulled himself out of the Re-Entry draft earlier in the week and now we know why. It’ll be interesting to see what his new deal is when the union releases the numbers, but I’m happy to see him back, though a bit surprised given how he so fully disappeared from view after Greg Vanney took over last season. With Dike and Findley joining Luke Moore, that’s not a bad set of backups/benchwarmers/complimentary strikers to have alongside Defoe/Gilberto/whoever as the main man up front.
So, a busy week for TFC, with another one ahead of them with a few days to re-negotiate with any player they might want to keep with a new deal and then phase 2 of the Re-Entry draft on Thursday with plenty of intriguing options to sniff around and potentially pick with no obligations to previous salaries. Welcome back off season, I missed you.