As in Real Salt Lake. Not Real Madrid.
I was a bit stunned when I heard the news today while driving and listening to the John Riggins show, but in hindsight I shouldn’t be. This looks like as close to a win-win as you see nowadays.
And for sure, the two happiest campers out of all of this are Freddy Adu and Peter Nowak. Nowak has never (in my opinion) really understood what to do with Freddy, and for sure Freddy has not really embraced being played out of position and frequently pulled to the bench. Freddy’s outburst in the playoffs last year certainly didn’t endear him to Nowak.
My first thought was “Wow, this is a mistake, I hope we better get something good out of this”. But upon further reflection I think for DC United this is a good move.
First of all, Freddy wasn’t going to be playing in his natural position (center attacking midfield) since Christian Gomez holds that position down and he just won the league MVP after scoring 14 goals and 11 assists. So that means that Freddy would be stuck out on the wing again. A position he doesn’t embrace, and in all fairness, isn’t suited to him at all. Freddy is at his best actually being the engine that drives a team (much like Gomez), not on the periphery with heavy defensive responsibilities. And for United, his defensive liabilities were a challenge to overcome.
If Freddy were to go overseas this summer (as expected) then United would have received an allocation which they could then use to pick up more talent as a replacement.
Now by jumping the gun and sending Freddy off to RSL in exchange for an allocation (plus other stuff I’ll get to in a minute), United gets to use that allocation NOW before the early spring club competitions they are in. Rumor mill has it that Nowak and Payne were in Brasil “shopping” as recently as just a few weeks ago and considering the timeline its not far-fetched to assume they have a body lined up that they want to use the allocation on and get them in here quick.
Looking at the rest of this trade which is Nick Rimando also going to RSL for Jay Nolly and future considerations (along with the allocation) you can start to see the master plan. Rimando for Nolly is a straight-up goalie swap. Rimando is a better keeper by far, but also carries a much higher price tag. With Troy Perkins firmly entrenched as the starter here, Rimando was just taking up cap space. So better to bring in a younger, cheaper guy as backup.
So how can this backfire for DC? Well, if Gomez gets hurt we’re screwed. Freddy was the perfect guy to step right into his shoes. Rod Dyachenko would be my next choice but he’s gone after being picked up by Toronto in the expansion draft. Matias Donnet has not re-signed yet and frankly is in a similar boat as Freddy by playing wing in a 352 and not being used to the defensive responsibility. He is the only other guy on the roster who could have played that spot. So if Gomez gets injured, Nowak is going to have to change the way we play or formation or both to accomodate and Nowak has shown he’s not real good at those types of changes. Also, if we don’t use our allocation before the spring tournaments we’ve lost out as well since we won’t have Freddy nor his replacement.
On the flip side, how can this propel DC to the top? Well if we get a signing in soon and he turns out to be good AND more importantly he fits a hole in our system (striker next to Jaime Moreno, or winger opposite Josh Gros) that could help us get thru these tournaments more than Freddy could. With this trade we have the means (allocation), we have the money (space from Rimando). All we need is the player.
Here are links to the story:
Adu Headed to Real Salt Lake (Steven Goff, washingtonpost.com)
More on this as it develops or as I gather my thoughts…