Evaluating Stage One

So the list is out for the first stage of the reentry draft. (via Goff)

Marcelo Saragosa, Chivas USA
Alex Zotinca, Chivas USA
Claudio Lopez, Colorado Rapids
Ciaran O'Brien, Colorado Rapids
Peter Vagenas, Colorado Rapids
Frankie Hejduk, Columbus Crew
Duncan Oughton, Columbus Crew
Gino Padula, Columbus Crew
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew
Jaime Moreno, D.C. United
Jeff Cunningham, FC Dallas
Dario Sala, FC Dallas
Ryan Cochrane, Houston Dynamo
Richard Mulrooney, Houston Dynamo
Joseph Ngwenya, Houston Dynamo
Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo
Adrian Serioux, Houston Dynamo
Jovan Kirovski, Los Angeles Galaxy
Dema Kovalenko, Los Angeles Galaxy
Chris Sharpe, MLS pool goalkeeper
Preston Burpo, New England Revolution
Nico Colaluca, New England Revolution
Cory Gibbs, New England Revolution
Khano Smith, New England Revolution
Juan Pablo Angel, New York Red Bulls
Luke Sassano, New York Red Bulls
Carey Talley, New York Red Bulls
Fred, Philadelphia Union
Chris Seitz, Philadelphia Union
Khari Stephenson, San Jose Earthquakes
Tyrone Marshall, Seattle Sounders
Jimmy Conrad, Sporting Kansas City
Aaron Hohlbein, Sporting Kansas City
Josh Wolff, Sporting Kansas City
Nick Garcia, Toronto FC

Anything look interesting to you? Allow me to produce a shortlist of ten who might help DC United and add in their 2010 base salary (from the MLS Players Union) and age for the sake of further whittling of the list shall we?

Frankie Hejduk ($120k, 36)
Guillermo Barros Schelotto ($140k, 37)
Jeff Cunningham ($220k, 34)
Ryan Cochrane ($100k, 27)
Joseph Ngwenya ($72k, 29)
Cory Gibbs ($121k, 30)
Juan Pablo Angel($1.62M, 35)
Tyrone Marshall ($165k, 36)
Jimmy Conrad ($233k, 33)
Josh Wolff ($220k, 33)

I'm heavy on the forwards and defenders here because I think our midfield is reasonable, particularly with McCarty on board. I considered Fred and Khari Stephenson, but ultimately decided that we needed to focus primarily on the front and back lines in the absence of any "can't miss" candidates. Some might claim Schelotto as a midfielder, but I'm going to class him as withdrawn forward.

From that list, I see a lot of guys in their mid 30's that are slowing or proving injury-prone. Anybody we can jettison from the capsule right off the bat? I'm thinking that Angel's big salary puts him out of the running altogether, even if his decidedly average performances down the stretch for Red Bull didn't. With Chang shopping for investment help and Benny's appointment probably at least partially due to financial concerns, I don't think we break the bank on a 35 year-old striker who's probably sidling past "past his best" territory.

I'd also jettison Schelotto and Tyrone Marshall. Schelotto may be a quality player and the price is right, but I just can't see us fitting both him and Boskovic into the same team, particularly given that we're likely to see Boskovic either playing atop McCarty-Simms (in the Schelotto spot) or pushed wide on the left (Schelotto needs energetic runners on both sides of him). Marshall's cap figure is also decent for a veteran center back, but he was a pretty spent force this year and, at 36, I'm afraid we'd be watching Pena 2.0 as he shuffled off into the sunset.

My final cuts to knock the shortlist down to a top five are Wolff and Cochrane. I just didn't see enough out of Wolff this year to justify that salary. He's not exactly a deadly finisher, and without the speed of his younger years, I just don't find him an attractive prospect. As for Cochrane: the price is right, and he's the youngest guy on our list. But while he does have solid MLS experience, I don't see that he brings the leadership and organization skills that we're lacking in central defense.

To wrap up, let's rank the five remaining candidates on my shortlist...

1.  Cory Gibbs ($121k, 30)

There are no perfect candidates here, let's just get that out of the way, shall we? Gibbs' sketchy injury history is a strike against him, and I wouldn't rank him too highly as an organizer either, but he's a smart veteran with a few good years left in the tank, and isn't on a huge salary. He can also slot in on our painfully thin left flank in a pinch.

2.  Jimmy Conrad ($233k, 33)

I go back and forth on this one and even debated making him my #1 candidate. Conrad is without question the best defensive organizer available on the list, a leader both on the field and off, and bangs in his fair share from set pieces. On the other hand, I can't shake those images of him struggling to keep up last year for KC. Combine those images with that big salary (nearly double that of Gibbs) and I think you can see why he slid down to #2.

3.  Jeff Cunningham ($220k, 34)

Yeah, he's 34. Yeah, that's a big cap hit. Yeah, there's that "locker room cancer" thing. But he's still relatively quick, has always finished, wherever he's gone (save maybe TFC...but come on! TFC?), is only a year removed from winning the Golden Boot, and doesn't have a history of injuries. For a team in need of reliable finishing and pace up top, you could do worse. Still, there's a reason he moves around a lot...

4.  Joseph Ngwenya ($72k, 29)

No, he's never been a prolific or deadly finisher. Yes, he spent almost a year without a club before the Dynamo picked him off the scrap heap. Yes, he's pushing 30. But he has the ability to stretch defenses and doesn't cost much. He'd be a rotation player at best, likely coming on mostly as a sub, but we could use the variety in attack. Still, I'd see this as a stretch pickup.

5. Frankie Hejduk ($120k, 36)

If you've been reading FBF for long, you know how hard it was to let Frankie on this list. Suffice it to say, I've never been a fan. But with the FO showing any semblance of fullback depth the door last week, we need to start shopping for replacements. Of course, Hejduk looked downright awful at times last year, so I'd be really, really hesitant to pull this particular trigger. That said, he's a veteran leader and a solid presence in the locker room. Not sure that makes him worth picking up though.

And let me close on a final note to MLS...The wording of this whole "reentry" thing. Couldn't you have gone with rounds or phases? Pairing Stage 1 and Stage 2 with Reentry pushes all kinds of "wrong, wrong, WRONG!" buttons in the minds of some of use who may or may not have had adolescent fascinations with the space program.




  1. Gibbs seems the obvious choice here - experience *and* pace? Yes, please. I know a lot of people are excited about Conrad but man, he really put up some poor performances at times this season, and his cap number isn't exactly miniscule.

  2. Completely agreed (well, obviously, given my list). Conrad had to be up for the "Most Spent Player" award last year. That said, he does bring valuable leadership qualities, a big, marketable personality, and other such intangibles. But for that salary? I'd rather have on-field qualities...

  3. Conrad would be a nice upgrade over Talley and Pena to mentor the young'uns but the price is steep. Hejduk would be a great locker room guy and good for a few drinks and cheers with Barra - not sure how much he has left on the field - Gibbs isn't worth it - he was always the guy with potential who's now run out of time and is ust ordinary. Schelloto is the class of this class and truest to what we used to call the DCU way. If he could give us a good two years, I would be happy, but is even one year in the cards?

  4. A. Props for including Ngwenya on your list when no one else (that I saw) was talking about him.

    B. I kind of like the pickup. He's about as close as this thing -- which is basically a list of overpriced players -- had to a bargain. If he's the new Adam Cristman (bench forward who might occasionally start), I'm reasonably pleased. At least Ngwenya might beat a defender or two to the ball. I'd rather see him blaze over the bar from a tight angle than watch Allsopp get beat in a footrace by a one-legged centerback.

  5. C. When I saw "United selects Houston..." on Goff's blog, I thought for sure it was going to finish with Cochrane.

  6. I'm puzzling out whether my thoughts on this are enough for a whole post. How many words does it take to say "meh"? ;-)