Brandon Vazquez photo courtesy Atlanta United
We’ve come to the final piece. Make sure you ear the others:
This is a tough spot to evaluate because, as Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs has said repeatedly, teams aren’t willing to part with goal-scorers in the Expansion Draft. If they are letting guys go, they’re mostly trying to unload bad contracts, or begin a youth movement (or hope that leaving an expensive guy unprotected means he doesn’t get picked).
Let’s do it
1. Abu Danladi, Minnesota United
He made $145k last year and is just 24. His production was only OK within the group (eighth out of 18 guys who actually played), but it’s not a steep price for a young guy. MNUFC is going to be less stingy than others with putting a scorer on the unprotected list because they’ve found their striker of the future in Mason Toye (along with getting production from other positions).
2. Brandon Vazquez, Atlanta United
He got nearly 700 minutes for Atlanta United’s stacked lineup, and only makes $150k at 21. There’s a serious development opportunity here for such a young guy.
3. Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Montreal Impact
Reasonably young at 26, but he did get under 700 minutes last year. Only made $160k, so a change of scenery could be beneficial. Downside? He’s a Quebecois who might not be motivated to perform at his best by being pulled away from Montreal. I’m honestly not positive if a guy who’s been a domestic for an MLS team would count as an international without a US Green Card (Canadians count as domestic players for Canadian teams only, but there may be some grandfathering here).
4. Patrick Mullins, Toronto FC
He’s another player who, if at another position, I’d probably be sliding into a less-enticing category. At $260k last year, he only got 613 minutes and wasn’t hyper-productive in that time. At 27, he doesn’t have a ton of career first-team time in recent years (but with almost a decade in the league, could be a mentor type for younger strikers).
Good, but with questions
Will Bruin, Seattle Sounders FC
Bruin is a pretty good player, but he missed all of 2018 and was limited this season after an ACL tear. For a guy who’s not only 30, but making $350k a year, you’re putting a lot of faith in modern medicine to assume he’ll be back to his former productive self.
Krisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City
Nemeth is in DP/TAM range, but was an extremely productive player in xG terms this season (even if he was part of SKC’s finishing woes that saw them underperform their xG significantly). At 30, there may not be a ton of tread left on the tires, but a couple good years out of him (particularly if he can be renegotiated down after a disappointing 2019) could be worth it. Given that he takes up an international slot, less likely.
Romario Williams, Columbus Crew
Close to the senior minimum so there’s not a ton of risk involved here, but he’s only been reasonably productive when he’s gotten on the pitch (which is a downgrade from much of what you’d expect for a Crew striker), and hasn’t been able to be there much, anyway.
Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution
I was very close to including Agudelo in the “good with questions” category because I’ve been a defender of his for a little while (and, like Gedion Zelalem, he’s pretty young to get the “bust” tag in MLS just because he certainly earned said tag for the national team). However, $575k is a steep price for a guy who’s basically never performed at a high level.
Miguel Ibarra, Minnesota United
He’s just over $300k and a 29-year old veteran, so maybe not the worst choice. However, he didn’t put up numbers comparable to his teammates last season, and two of them are more appealing by a combination of age and price.
Nemanja Nikolic, Chicago Fire
Sound the “31-year old DP” klaxons, but Nikolic was as productive as anybody available not named Zlatan, and even though the Fire at large underachieved their xG, there were probably plenty of reasons that may dry up immediately with a change of scenery. $1.7m is a massive outlay and he also takes an international slot, or I’d actually be thinking serious about this one.
Angelo Rodriguez, Minnesota United
He’s the second-best forward choice on the Minnesota United roster, but is quite a bit more proven than Danladi. He also makes four times as much and is a half-dozen years older, so there’s that. He also takes up an international slot. I moved him down to a hard “no” because of that.
Luis Silva, Seattle Sounders FC
He’s no spring chicken at 31, but on a senior minimum contract, the risk is pretty low. Silva got only 215 minutes last year – and if his decent level of production had come in a broader base of evidence, he’d be a category higher, no doubt.
Maximiliano Urruti, Montreal Impact
28-year old DP (with TAM-buydown ability) who didn’t really produce. He got 2600 minutes exactly, so certainly there’s still plenty of gas in the tank, but a forward has to get more than 0.3 xG/game to be worth a DP price in comparison to some of these other players (though his name could be big enough that a willing trade partner is available for draft-and-flip).
Not Enough Data
These guys mostly loaned out to USL teams this season.
Jon Bakero, Toronto FC
Justin Dhillon, Seattle Sounders FC
Niki Jackson, Colorado Rapids – could have one more year of reserve-minimum compensation
Luiz Fernando, Atlanta United – at least two more years on reserve minimum
Edward Opoku, Columbus Crew
Brian Wright, New England Revolution
Fanendo Adi, FC Cincinnati
I don’t have a broad enough view of MLS to call Adi the worst idea in MLS history, but FC Cincinnati did give up over a million in allocation money to pay this guy like a DP when he couldn’t score in USL, much less in MLS. Clown shoes gon’ clown shoe.
Elliot Collier, Chicago Fire
Though on a senior minimum, he was exclusively a USL player this year (and Memphis 901 continued adding forward talent because he’s not good enough) and takes up an international slot.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, LA Galaxy
Insanely productive. Insanely disinterested in playing in MLS.
Darren Mattocks, FC Cincinnati
This may be a little harsh, but I felt like I was overly generous with the categories above, so a guy just below the TAM cutoff (i.e. not quite good enough to be in the TAM category where you can spend the fake salary cap money on him, but good enough that you have to come close) who has the stink of FC Cincinnati on him gets the brunt of it.