Scraping the Bargain Bin

Stage 1 of the MLS Re-entry Draft came and went, not with a bang, but the most pathetic of whimpers. Two players got picked up, pretty much confirming the consensus that Stage 1 was about finding bargains, not landing big money fish. That high-priced, aging talent like Angel, Conrad, and Cunningham is going to be moving when we hit Stage 2 and salary figures can be negotiated down.

United was one of the two teams that registered any activity, snapping up journeyman midfielder/forward Joseph Ngwenya. I did have the foresight to toss Ngwenya on my draft(s) shortlist at #4, even if I did think he'd be a bit of a stretch. I still think we might take a stab at those higher up on the list when we get a chance to bring those cap hits under $200k, but I wonder about the #1 on my shortlist. I thought Cory Gibbs was the right mix of veteran savvy, position of need, and low(ish) cap figure, iced with his being 3-4 years younger than my other top targets. Frankly, I think he'd be a far bigger contributor than Ngwenya is going to be, and I'd even advance the notion that he has more left to contribute, and over more years, than Conrad.

Speaking of the new man, let's take a look at Joe, shall we? Sure, I suppose he's athletic and worries defenses with his speed and movement. That's certainly something we lack. But he only made 12 appearances for a Houston side that struggled mightily and missed the playoffs by a wide, 13 point margin last year. He scored one goal in that campaign. In fact, since a 7-goal season for Houston in 2007, he's scored a grand total of two professional goals in three years. Two. Hasn't been playing many games, that's true, but...two goals?

He'll also be thirty in March. Thirty is a much bigger deal to forwards than defenders, particularly when you're comparing quick forwards and central defenders.

But you can't beat the price, right? And therein lies the worry. Chang is shopping for investors. Part of the reason for Olsen's hiring might be (speculation alert, but there you go) not having cash to splash on a higher-priced candidate since we're still paying off Onalfo. The stadium situation is a financial albatross. Are we going to end up with a bargain-bin roster stuffed with the likes of Ngwenya?

Let me clarify that I think Ngwenya can be a decent contributor in spurts. He provides a change of pace we didn't posses last year, and that, combined with his low salary, was enough for me to put him on my own shortlist. What worries me more is that we didn't make a move for Gibbs. Maybe it's all part of the master plan. Maybe we have our veteran center back candidate already in the bag. Maybe Ngwenya is just what I'm hoping he is: a squad player to compliment the mysterious lethal finisher we'll be partnering with a healthy Pontius. But that would be ignoring the slow-motion train wreck we've been suffering through for the last three years. 

I'll be watching the second stage and our further moves in the off-season transfer waters with interest, if not hope.


  1. "Are we going to end up with a bargain-bin roster stuffed with the likes of Ngwenya?"

    You might have reason to worry about that in most leagues, but the league pays the players up to the salary cap. The only place penny-pinching would manifest itself is in designated players.

  2. Good point. Certainly takes the wind out of that argument's sails...

    Still doesn't mean Ngwenya's not straight out of the bargain bin nor that Kasper won't be pawing through it to fill the roster. ;-)