Chivas acquisition of Guevara ranks as the worst move
Major League Soccer has never really been known as a league in which trades happen in bunches, but 2007 saw more activity than most seasons (thanks to the itchy trigger fingers at Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy).
With the regular season almost over, it is time to look back at the five most lopsided trades of the 2007 MLS season:
1. Amado Guevara for a designated player slot and third-round pick
This is without question the worst trade from the end of last season until now. The Red Bulls dealt Guevara, the 2004 MLS MVP, to Chivas USA for a designated player slot and a third-round pick in the 2007 SuperDraft, the only mechanism MLS teams have to sign high-priced players that cost more than the MLS maximum salary.
Chivas USA was banking on Guevara giving the team a dynamic playmaker who could also score goals and become a favorite of Chivas USA fans. Things did not work out that way. The coach who brokered the deal, Bob Bradley, left for the U.S. national team and Guevara never clicked with new coach Preki. The result was Guevara starting the season playing poorly and giving little effort. Preki tired of his act and unloaded Guevara. When the Honduran playmaker balked at a deal to Toronto, Chivas USA dismissed Guevara before eventually loaning him out to Honduran club CD Motagua for the remainder of his MLS contract.
What did Chivas USA get for its designated player slot? Just four games from Guevara, who failed to register a goal or assist, but did manage to earn a red card from the bench after being substituted in the final match he would ever play for Chivas USA. Now, the only thing that could keep this from being one of the worst trades in league history is if MLS grants the Goats an allocation for Guevara's departure and if the league gives teams a second designated player slot in 2008.
What did the Red Bulls get? They signed two designated players but Claudio Reyna came first, nearly three months before Juan Pablo Angel, so you could argue that the Red Bulls dealt Guevara for a player whose 16 goals have him in contention for MVP honors. Even if you consider the deal as Guevara for Reyna -- the former U.S. national team captain has played in 21 matches. While some will argue that Reyna has been a disappointment, he has still played extremely well in some matches and provided far more than Guevara did in his four-game cameo for Chivas USA.
2. Freddy Adu and Nick Rimando for a major allocation, Jay Nolly and future considerations
This deal was a lock to finish high on this list, and not just because I said it would be a disaster 10 months ago.
What did Real Salt Lake get exactly? Not much. Adu played a grand total of 11 games and registered one goal and two assists before being sold to Portugal's Benfica following the U-20 World Cup. According to some reports, Real Salt Lake received just $250,000 of the $2 million transfer fee Benfica paid for Adu, with D.C. United receiving $150,000 and a third-round draft pick.
So RSL did recoup some, if not all, of the major allocation it dealt D.C. United for Adu, but didn't get much in return from Adu in a season when in had plenty of needs to address.
You may point to Rimando's contributions this season, but it is easily forgotten that RSL cut Rimando before reacquiring him from the Red Bulls just two weeks later at the cost of a fourth-round draft pick.
D.C. United made out tremendously -- Saving tons of cap room by dealing Adu and Rimando, and also banking another allocation to help bolster an already-strong squad. The result was D.C. United having the resources to sign MVP candidate Luciano Emilio, who has scored 20 goals, and Brazilian midfielder Fred, who has been one of the team's best players down the stretch.
As for Real Salt Lake? The team will miss the playoffs for the third straight season and the two men who made this trade, coach John Ellinger and president Steve Pastorino, no longer have jobs with the club.
3. Robbie Findley and Nathan Sturgis for Chris Klein
Dealing youth for experience is nothing new in professional sports, but it still leaves you scratching your head sometimes. The Galaxy wanted a veteran presence in midfield and found one in Chris Klein, who not only gave Los Angeles an option on the right flank, but also at right back. The only problem with trading for him was that the Galaxy dealt away its two most promising young players.
Findley has flourished with Real Salt Lake, scoring five goals since arriving in late June. In fact, his seven combined goals this season leads all rookies and Findley just earned his first U.S. national team call-up.
Sturgis has yet to make an impact, having been injured after returning from the U-20 World Cup, but he is widely regarded as one of the best young defensive prospects in the league and the U.S. national team system.
Klein's production with the Galaxy hasn't been overwhelming. He has registered one goal and two assists (though there was that magical bicycle kick goal in the SuperLiga final), but Klein has also provided leadership to help the Galaxy emerge from its midseason disaster to challenge for a playoff spot.
4. Andy Herron for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 MLS draft
This trade made sense for both teams at the time it was made. The Crew had enough young players and badly needed a proven goal scorer while Chicago needed to get younger defensively.
However, Herron has provided just four goals and two assists, paltry stats considering he's managed just two goals in the team's past 20 matches. Also, none of his four goals came in one of the Crew's seven victories.
Chicago used the draft pick to select Bakary Soumare, widely regarded as the best defensive prospect in the 2007 draft. Soumare has had his struggles, but he has also shown tremendous potential and has started in several key matches for the Fire in the second half of the season. Perhaps most importantly, Soumare looks to have a bright future in MLS while Herron appears very unlikely to even be in MLS in 2008.
5. Todd Dunivant and cash considerations for Kevin Goldthwaite
Of all the trades on the list, this one made the least sense at the time it was made. The Red Bulls traded Dunivant, widely regarded as one of the best fullbacks in MLS, to Toronto for unproven left back Goldthwaite. That alone would have made for a questionable deal, but when it was learned that the Red Bulls were also paying the difference in salaries, approximately $75,000, the deal became a real head-scratcher.
Toronto was not about to complain. Mo Johnston secured a player he really liked in Dunivant, who has started all 16 matches for TFC since making the move. Dunivant has settled well and has even shown an ability to play in midfield.
The Red Bulls' side did not work out quite as well. Goldthwaite looked shaky upon joining the team and lost the starting left back spot to Chris Leitch after six matches. He earned two more starts, both Red Bulls losses, and suffered a serious knee injury in the second one, a 3-0 loss to Chivas USA on Sept. 9, and is likely out for the season.
Ives Galarcep covers MLS for ESPNsoccernet. He is a writer and columnist for the Herald News (N.J.) and writes a blog, Soccer By Ives. He can be reached at Ivespn79@aol.com.