Quick Grades: MLS Montreal Impact Expansion Draft

Some of this is recounting from Twitterisms–some, you just couldn’t make up:

Seattle Sounders: B+

Fucito, not cruising anywhere...

Good day to you Sounders fans. Two years ago Sebu Le Toux couldn’t quite get on the field for Sigi Schmid’s first team. Off he went to the Philly Union in their expansion draft and nearly captured an improbably MLS MVP award (of far from it, but you get the picture.)

The nameplates of “Mike ‘Tom Cruise’ Fucito,” “O’Brien White,” and “Patrick Ianni” remain firmly screwed into stalls in the home locker room up in Seattle.

Quite a coup for a number of reasons. First, leverage against Mauro Rosales. A little bit easier if you have depth up front to negotiate with Rosales if he’s a “we’d absolutely love to have him back” player instead of a “must-have, no qualms” player.

Second, flexibility with Fredy Montero. Who knows what Fredy thinks of international prospects. OB White, gives you a hold-up guy in his absence.

Sure Seattle lost John Legend, James Riley on the corner in the back and Tyson Wahl, but both were nice complements rather than necessary starters.

Well played Sounders.

San Jose Earthquake: D

Here’s the thing San Jose. You had to know Jesse March would want a marshall in the back that he was comfortable with. He played with Burling at Chivas USA.

Instead, San Jose left Steve Betlashour protected in a fullback-rich draft and Khari Shephenson who was never going to be picked by the likes of Marsch.

Could have kept all your assets San Jose. And you don’t have many.

Portland Timbers: A

Ryan Pore was great insurance so the Timbers could hold on to a host of encouraging players, like Eric Alexander. The Timbers made their play ahead of the curve.


Chivas USA: D-

There needs to be an investigation launched into the sanity of the front office for HDC’s B Team.

I mean this Seinfeld clip doesn’t even do the lunacy justice:

Chivas “lose” two quality youngsters Zarek Valentin (by selection) and Justin Braun (trade for the aforementioned James Riley).

The Clippers have been the running joke in Southern California for some time. Someone just blew them out of the water.

Colorado Rapids: C

Some explanation for the Rapids leaving selection Sanna Nyassi exposed.

That said, why not leave Joseph Nane exposed? With he and Ross LeBeaux unprotected, the Rapids would have guaranteed themselves to hold on to at least one back-up CM with promise in the middle….instead of losing their lone speedster out wide/up top.

Montreal Impact: Dealing, A; Draft C+

Marsching forward...

Some shrewd dealing by the Impact to pick up players (Pore) or money (Seattle) before and during the draft. The drafting of Brian Ching (we’ll get to that) and Collen Warner (trade bait?) also insure some leverage in trade talks going forward. The trade for Justin Braun–losing only James Riley–was the definition of a heist. Very, very nice work there.

On the draft, it seems head coach Jesse Marsch either went for no-brainers (Warner, Valentin, Sinovic) or played it almost too safe with middle-of-the-road veterans with picks like Burling, Mapp and Gardner…while there were plenty of other options that would seem to have a bigger impact. Components like Chris Birchall, Kyle Nakazawa and Michael Boxall seem to have much higher upsides than the aforementioned trio and be better value for the pick and compensation.

A major mistake coaches always seem to make is relying too much on “trust” or “familiarity” rather than statistical analysis or player risk-reward review. Sure, Montreal wants to be competitive. Do Burling, Mapp and Gardner carry enough weight this year to offset potential gains of some younger players that were available? I don’t think so.

Houston Dynamo: D- (* or maybe not)

First, let’s get the “we played YOU Montreal” notion out of the way. It goes like this:

Impact? Felt.

Brian Ching is set to retire. He alerts Dom Kinnear and staff that he wants a role in the front office. Kinnear tells Ching he’s going to leave him unprotected so that he can protect another asset. Ching agrees and then issues a “I’ll retire first if Montreal takes me” to ward off Marsch on his selection.

If the Impact pick Ching then Houston postures like it’s shocked and gains Ching back with his retirement leverage instead of losing another asset.

Is Houston that smart?

Their history of recent front office dealings show them on the wrong side on a number of gambits and plays.

Let’s look at those for a moment in no particular order–and with a lot of leeway for this argument: a) losing Stu Holden and Ricardo Clark free of charge, b) trading away Dominic Oduro and Kei Kamara, c) losing Chris Wondolowski and DeWayne DeRosario, d) striking out, looking, with Luis Angel Landin in the DP role last year, e) selecting a player in Sergio Koke who has only played in celebrated cultural towns and who summarily asked for his release after less than a cup of coffee with the squad, f) losing out on the Feilhaber sweepstates which forced the signing of Luiz Camarago g) signing an injured Primera sub in Carlos Costly to add firepower up top. (Must note the positive Mullan and Moffatt trades though.)

No, let’s assume Houston is not playing everyone, including TSG, with this Ching move.

It’s a horrible gambit that has backfired for a club that came two goals away from hoisting the MLS Cup.

Ching is the team captain and face of the franchise. At 33, he’s more valuable–one would think–to the Dynamo than Montreal. However, Montreal saw Ching as an “asset” more than a “player” with his $400,000 price tag and veteran leadership as a backdrop if a deal didn’t materialize.

In all likelihood (which is likely why, as well, that Ching uttered his “retirement” statement), Montreal went to the Dynamo (as Seattle and Portland went to Montreal) and said something to the effect of, “We like Ching. We’ll play him if we take him…but he’s worth more to you. Why don’t you offer us some allocation money and we may or may not take someone else.”

Houston likely balked and Montreal called their bluff.

And now, my oh my, what a predicament Houston is in.

They lose their captain heading into a new stadium. They lose a target man up top and are left with Calen Carr, Will Bruin and Cam Weaver as their forwards…meaning a) unless Will Bruin truly breaks out there will not be a big target for Brad Davis or Adam Moffatt from the run of play and b) everyone knows they now need a forward…in other words, “ante up Dynamo…we’re going to make you overpay!”

In all likelihood, Houston loses “less” here after some negotiation–perhaps Colin Clark and some money. (Mind you, if they left Clark unprotected Montreal may or may not have taken him.)

Or maybe it’s worse and Andre Hainault makes a return north of the border with Ching as the chip in the game.

Poor dealings Houston. Should’ve left Bobby Boswell unprotected instead. Marsch was either going to take Burling or Ramiro Corrales–two players he’s played with before and even if he did take Boswell, then perhaps Dynamo swing a deal for LA’s Leonardo (De La Garza and Omar Gonzalez are firmly entrenched) or signs a player sunsetting his career in Europe (Sylvan Distin…just throwing a name out there.)

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by prizby on 2011/11/24 at 6:51 PM

    don’t MTL get allocation money if Ching retires from the MLS?


  2. Posted by MM on 2011/11/24 at 10:01 PM

    The Rapids were forced to protect 3 internationals due to MLS rules. Nyassi didn’t qualify as an international. I can’t imagine the Rapids wanted to protect Smith, Nane, & Earls. But then it is the Rapids FO. With the 8 players that they could protect that mattered, I probably would have exposed Pablo and Pickens and protected Nyassi and Kimura.


  3. It’s Ramiro CORRALES. Interesting you didn’t give LA a grade..


  4. Posted by 4now on 2011/11/25 at 1:38 AM

    Another fun read Matthew. Thanks.
    I’d say that the Montreal grade will depend upon what they get or don’t get for Ching. I hope they demand Hainault and really orchestrate a big trade with draft picks, allocation money, etc.

    Otherwise, I think that Montreal did pretty well. But what is the deal with Gardner. Is he really a legitimate player?

    And is Sinovic really a better choice than Harrinton?


    • Posted by Berg on 2011/11/25 at 11:02 AM

      Looking at both Harrington and Sinovic purely as left backs, I would rate Sinovic slightly ahead of Harrington (He’s substantially cheaper as well.)

      Harrington gets bonus points for his versatility though, which I thought would have been attractive for an expansion side that needs to fill spots quite literally everywhere.


  5. Posted by dth on 2011/11/25 at 11:56 PM

    I think I’m somewhat suspicious of Montreal right out of the gate. Why Marsch? Seems like an aiming-low kind of a pick. And, a broader question: why does it seem as if North American soccer tends towards picking up and fast tracking former destroyers as coaches?

    Compare, for instance, the relative coaching career arcs of Tab Ramos and Jesse Marsch: both have positions of comparable visibility and prestige, but Ramos has been at it a hell of a lot longer than Marsch.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/26 at 10:05 AM

      Great point on Montreal’s manager. Feel similarly on the hire.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/11/28 at 8:51 AM

      Obviously I am not a coach or in coaching circles so this is just a guess but I would much rather be in Ramos’ job then Marsch’s. The choice between
      1) An expansion team that is probably a couple years from the playoffs in a cold climate with the cast offs of other teams or
      2) coach of the US U-20s working mostly in the US and europe with top talent
      seems easy to me.

      Plus my guess is that if you want a job that is a step up from MLS coach the U20 gig seems much better than coaching a below .500 MLS team.


  6. Posted by Kevin on 2011/11/26 at 9:01 AM

    Calling all of those Houston moves a gambit is kind of deceiving. Losing Stu and Clark was not the decision of Houston. Neither of them chose to renew their contracts because they wished to go abroad. Losing DeRosario also was due to the wishes of the player. DeRosario wanted to finish his career in his hometown of Toronto, but was never really happy on that team. What is very understated about the Dynamo is that they take into heavy consideration what the player wants. Another example of this was when Serioux was released to go to Toronto. Houston fans expect the same from other teams, but apparently Marsch didn’t get the memo.

    To address some of your other examples I had heard a rumor that Kei wasn’t very good in the locker room or got in some sort of fight or argument with Kinnear. Costly and especially Camargo were players that Kinnear wanted. Camargo was a player he wanted during the offseason but they couldnt come to terms. I’ll give you those other three though with the most perplexing being Wondolowski. For whatever reason he was never able to break into starting lineup even though he was known as the best finisher on the team.

    As far as what’s going on, I think Montreal’s trying to get Hainault. If this is true, then we know what Canetti is talking about by saying that those game “won’t work with us”. I think a deal for Hainault would mean some good allocation or maybe one of Nyassi or Braun. Hainault has more trade value especially to Montreal than Ching does to Houston because what is clear now is that Ching will remain with Houston one way or another. It just depends on whether he’ll be able to play or not. Essentially, Montreal has a player without any value for trade or on the field for them.


  7. Posted by Ryan on 2011/11/26 at 6:08 PM

    If Chivas didn’t get an F then no one can get one.


  8. Posted by Rafael on 2011/11/27 at 12:50 PM

    Way too generous with Chivas. They deserved an F at the very least, if not an F-

    Some of Montreal’s picks are baffling. Hard to understand why they would go out and get three LBs. Sinovic, Wahl, and Gardner are all LBs.


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