The Montreal Impact chose to pass on their selection in Stage 1 of the 2015 MLS Re-Entry Draft. For those of you uncertain about what the Re-Entry Draft is, here are the basics:
- This season, for the first time ever, players who are either out of a contract or have their option declined by their club and satisfy the 28/8 rule (being at least 28 years old and having played at least 8 years in MLS) become unrestricted free agents - they are not available in the Re-Entry Draft.
- Players who are at least 23 years old and have played at least 3 MLS seasons and whose options were declined by their teams are eligible for the Re-Entry Draft.
- Players who are at least 25 years old and have played at least 4 MLS seasons and who are either out of a contract or whose clubs do not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary are eligible for the Re-Entry Draft.
There are two stages to the Re-Entry Draft. Teams selecting players in Stage 1 must respect the players' previous contracts (i.e. the option declined by the player's previous team must be picked up or new contracts must be signed at at least the same value as the player's previous contract).
Teams selecting players in Stage 2 are able to negotiate a new contract, contract value, and contract structure with the player. Ideally, teams would like to select the players they are interested in in Stage 2 in order to sign the player on their terms, however, they risk the player being selected in Stage 1.
This is one of the many mechanisms in MLS created to ensure parity (because teams select in reverse order of standings much like any draft) and keep player salaries/contracts stable and low (because it is very difficult to actually achieve complete unrestricted free agency... and even then there are limits to what teams can offer).
With Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft set for Thursday, here are some potential targets for the Impact to zero in on:
1) Lovel Palmer, 31 (FB - Chicago Fire)
Lovel Palmer is a speedy, strong full-back. If the rumors of Siaka Tiene joining the Impact turn out to be false and/or we see a repeat of the Ambroise Oyongo situation from last year in which Oyongo may push for a move to Europe, then it may be possible that the Impact need another option on the wings. This is especially true if Hassoun Camara is forced into the middle due to the potential departure of Victor Cabrera. Moreover, Eric Miller hasn't been particularly convincing in his ability to not get muscled off the ball. Palmer might be an interesting option for a team like Montreal that like to play with two holding midfielders and therefore need the full-backs to push the attack from the wings.
He made $125,500 last year, but being selected in Stage 2 would mean the Impact could negotiate to a lower number.
2) Jairo Arrieta, 32 (F - D.C. United)
Jairo Arrieta could be an option for the Montreal Impact in their search for a forward to slot behind Didier Drogba but in front of the younger players like Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Romario Williams, and Cameron Porter. This would also allow for Dominic Oduro to be permanently shifted over to the right side of the midfield in order to compensate for the loss of Justin Mapp. Arrieta provides some offensive punch, especially if brought in late in games that the Impact are trailing in and have therefore switched to a 2-forward system.
He made $165,000 last year, but being selected in Stage 2 would mean the Impact could negotiate to a lower number.
3) Michael Farfan, 27 (M - D.C. United)
Michael Farfan could give the Impact a versatile, offensive midfielder who can play on either wing or the middle. He does not fit the profile of the prolific centre-attacking-midfielder that the Impact should be looking for, but he has played in the middle before which could allow Ignacio Piatti to shift over to the left. Farfan is creative and has even spent some time with Mexican giant Cruz Azul.
He made $120,000 last year, but being selected in Stage 2 would mean the Impact could negotiate to a lower number.
4) Jalil Anibaba, 27 (CB - Sporting KC)
Jalil Anibaba was traded to Kansas City as part of the deal that brought Aurelein Collin to Orlando City. He was on the team's original back four as a right full-back, but was never able to quite crack the lineup as a centre-back, his natural position. Most in Kansas were happy with his play at right-back at the beginning of the year, but an injury de-railed his 2015 campaign and after missing a large chunk of time due to that injury, he was in and out of the lineup for the rest of the season. Anibaba will not be back with Sporting next year partly due to his injury but also greatly due to salary cap issues that Kansas City might face as they look to be big players in the free agent market (e.g. Justin Mapp).
He made $150,000 last year, but being selected in Stage 2 would mean the Impact could negotiate to a lower number.
5) Mauro Rosales, 34 (W/M - Vancouver Whitecaps)
Mauro Rosales went through this same situation last year. But the Whitecaps re-signed their winger before he was left unprotected in the draft. We shouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens this time around, but it is a lot less likely. After Vancouver re-signed defender Pa-Modou Kah, they are (apparently) in a sort of cap crunch. As a result, Rosales could be available to any team who selects him on December 17th. Rosales would make up for the offense that losing Justin Mapp has caused on the right side. Similarly, Rosales has played as a central attacking midfielder before which could facilitate Piatti's move to the left. He is an offensive-minded attacker who can add offensive depth to the midfield. Alternatively, Rosales is aging and his better days may be behind him. He may represent a high risk, high reward type of player in the Re-Entry draft, especially at that price.
He made $265,000 last year, but being selected in Stage 2 would mean the Impact could negotiate to a lower number.
Which players do you think the Impact should target on Thursday?