For most U.S based MLS teams, the # 1 spot in the allocation process is a highly sought after commodity. The Montreal Impact held that spot heading into the day, and decided to use it as leverage and dealt it along with Felipe to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for Ambroise Oyongo and Eric Alexander, and allocation money.
With the allocation money, they were also able to add Dominic Oduro from arch rivals Toronto FC.
Felipe was one of the originals to the Impact when the team made their MLS debut back in 2012. He was brought on by Jesse Marsch, who now happens to be NYRB's boss, so it was no surprise when rumors first started to swirl about a potential swap.
As much as I love Felipe, and what he brought to the team, I think this was a steal for Montreal. Yes, he's a warrior, by all accounts a true professional, and never complained at least not publicly to my knowledge of where he was asked to play on the field.
Under different managers, he was asked to play there as well as on the wings, even sometimes as a defensive midfielder. The fact is, Felipe did everything he was asked and then some. He has that flashy style that fans love, willing to take on opponents, and create opportunities for himself or his teammates. He's best suited for the middle of the pitch where he can attack and help control the pace of play. More than likely Piatti will now be in charge of getting the offense going.
What made Felipe expendable?
I believe it was a combination of acquisitions that made this deal too good for Montreal to pass up. The Impact have brought in a multitude of players to add quality and depth to the lineup and as a result they were able to trade an asset to up grade multiple area on the pitch. As with most trades, if you are looking to improve your roster you must give up quality in order to get quality back and I feel that is what was done here.
It will not be as hard for the team to cope with Felipe's loss with the addition of Alexander. He will be able to come in and provide the same type of attacking options as Felipe as well as help out on the defensive side of the ball.
Ambroise Oyongo will come in and challenge Danny Toia for that starting left back position, a spot on the field that has been severely lacking since day one in MLS for the Impact. In Eric Alexander, the Impact have secured a very solid and reliable #8. For those who liked the fact that Felipe was one of a few players to log tons of minutes during his time with IMFC, well you will be encouraged to know that Alexander has played in every game for the Red Bulls over the last 2 seasons.
Last season, he found his way into team records by appearing in 41 competitive matches for the Red Bulls. He is another veteran of the league entering his 7th year and his point totals are not too shabby either : 8 goals and 20 assists.
For those who argue that it is easy to collect assists when you have a legend like Thierry Henry, or a stud like Bradley Wright-Phillips, keep in mind Felipe had Marco Di Vaio. With this trade, they have replaced a stud midfielder with another solid midfielder, added a much need left back and money that the team was able to use to bring in Oduro. He will add a different dynamic to the team's attack.
For those who are still not sold on the off-season moves the club has made, I say be patient. The club continues to work hard to put together a winning formula. I don't think the team has finished making moves, as there is still a log jam of players especially in midfield, and Klopas has repeated several times that he is still looking for the pure striker to replace Di Vaio.
Surely some of the younger academy grads will find themselves lining up for. Contrary to what some may feel, Joey Saputo does care deeply about this team and only wants to win.
He will do what it takes! This coming year will be special!
Felipe, thank-you for bringing your passion and hard work to the city of Montreal! You will truly be missed! I wish you and you family all the best in New York.