After all the discussion (great comments, folks--thanks!) yesterday over whether we could make Nowak deal for Szetela + whatever, the FO turns around and makes a deal that I'm still trying to figure out who comes out ahead on: Fred + our first round pick in the draft (#7) + allocation money for Perkins.
Points for consideration...
* I know I'm in the minority, but I was really looking forward to seeing what Fred could do given the coach's trust, a role as an a-mid/withdrawn forward, and fewer emotional distractions off the field. In my feverish tactical imaginings, I had envisioned Fred dropping deep off Pontius up top with Quaranta and Castillo playing high on the flanks, leaving Moreno available to supersub on for Pontius or Fred. That said, given that we don't know how if Fred will be able to recover his first-season form and the fact that we desperately needed to fix the broken keeper situation, I can accept losing Fred to gain Perkins. Perkins is, after all, a proven MLS and mid-tier Euro-league keeper who is getting looks with a national team known for great keepers. We're ahead at this point.
* But giving up the first round pick? I can understand that in isolation: we're not guaranteed to get a solid contriubutor at #7, despite our success in and around that position last year. The concensus seems to be that this year's draft pool is shallower than last and that the can't-miss talent will be gone by the #4 pick. So I get that that the #7 maybe wasn't as valuable as it would have been last year. But couldn't we have exchanged our first and third rounders for Philly's second rounder? As it stands, we'll have just two picks: one in each of the third and fourth rounds. At this point, I think we're just about even on the trade.
* Plus allocation money? See this is where I get a little confused. Dealing the first-round pick says to me that we're going shopping. The FO cleared a lot of cap space this off-season and also freed up some senior roster and international slots. United's default position has usually been to treat the draft with a bit of disdain, looking abroad for acquisitions that can make an immediate difference, rather than gambling on college kids. I guess we're going to the bargain bin, and that leaves me thinking that Nowak, who never needed a keeper in the first place, came out ahead on this one.
Overall though, I'm pretty pleased to have solved what I though was one of the biggest issues with the lineup last year. We traded two unknowns (Fred as meaningful contributor + whatever a highly-rated college kid could bring in his first pro season) for a proven commodity in an area we needed to upgrade. Even if we might have overpaid, the deal does make the team better, at least in the short-term. Now the question becomes: how do the rest of the keepers shake out?
Perkins is the starter. We'll take that as a given. But behind him, we've now got Hamid, Kocic, and Wicks on the books. Assume we're carrying three keepers. Who gets left by the wayside?
Hamid: I think we can all agree that Hamid is a no-brainer to keep. He's Generation Adidas, so he doesn't count against the cap, and a highly rated youngster to boot. To most minds, that makes him the automatic #3. But I'm going to just throw something out there. I wonder if American soccer is too much in lock-step with the Brits when it comes to not trusting young keepers. Buffon won his starting spot in Serie A at 17. Casillas won the starting job at one of the biggest clubs in the world (Real Madrid) around 18-19. Sure, I understand that those are two of the most talented keepers in the world, but we've produced some pretty damned good ones in this country as well. Who's to say Hamid shouldn't be getting some significant minutes at 19 just because that's not the way they do things in Ol' Blighty?
Kocic: I'm still not sure I'm seeing what the FO is seeing in Kocic. He's a decent shot-stopper, but his decision making, communication, and command of the box are questionable to say the least. Maybe with a sane veteran to mentor him, he turns into a reasonable backup, but that's a big "if" should Perkins go down and he be the man tasked with the job of replacing him. We saw last year the lack of trust in his ability when we went shopping for Cronin on loan when Wicks went down. Also, I wonder what his contract status is. Did he re-up for Dev Dollars or is he too old for a developmental contract now? Additionally, if we're going shopping overseas, does Kocic's foreign nationality make him a liability?
Wicks: It should come as no surprise that I'm not a big fan of Wicks as the starter. But as a backup? He's cheap and brings reasonable quality, so I wouldn't be averse to him returning. I just wonder if his ego takes a battering if he gets demoted? Also, he does have more trade value than Kocic would. If Kocic is now on the senior roster, I'd lean towards letting the slight difference in their salaries eat into our cap space and keep Wicks. If Kocic is still on Dev Dollars? Then things get a little more interesting.
I think my first inclination would be to part ways with Kocic and go with Perkins, Wicks, and Hamid. But I wouldn't be averse to dangling Wicks as trade bait to see who might be interested in a nibble.