MLS announces inaugural class of free agents, re-entry draft candidates
Who says there’s such a thing as the Major League Soccer “offseason?” And who says we were supposed to kick back and enjoy such a thing on Monday, barely 24 hours after the Portland Timbers hoisted the 2015 MLS Cup?
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Not only have we already witnessed a flurry of early offseason trades today, but MLS also announced the inaugural class of free agents — players who are eligible to negotiate new contracts with any of the league’s 20 teams after meeting its brand new age-28 and eight-years-MLS-experienced requirements.
(All salary numbers taken from MLS Players Union salary release, found here.)
FULL LIST OF 2015-16 FREE AGENTS (by position, alphabetically)
Jon Busch — Chicago Fire
Troy Perkins — Montreal Impact
Kyle Reynish — New York Red Bulls
Andrew Weber — Portland Timbers
Corey Ashe — Orlando City SC
Bobby Burling — Colorado Rapids
Ty Harden — Chicago Fire
Michael Harrington — Colorado Rapids
Steven Keel — FC Dallas
Jeff Larentowicz — Chicago Fire
Drew Moor — Colorado Rapids
James Riley — Colorado Rapids
Eric Avila — Orlando City SC
Brian Carroll — Philadelphia Union
Ricado Clark — Houston Dynamo
Ned Grabavoy — New York City FC
Nick LaBrocca — Colorado Rapids
Justin Mapp — Montreal Impact
Paulo Nagamura — Sporting Kansas City
Nathan Sturgis — Houston Dynamo
Chad Barrett — Seattle Sounders
Edson Buddle — LA Galaxy
Conor Casey — Philadelphia Union
Kenny Cooper — Montreal Impact
Alan Gordon — LA Galaxy
Mike Magee — Chicago Fire
Of the above listed players, the following names (no particular order) seem most likely to garner the most interest on the open market: Mike Magee, Justin Mapp, Paulo Nagamura, Ned Grabavoy, Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor.
Magee, who won the MLS MVP award just two years ago, has fallen off spectacularly since that 2013 campaign in which he scored 22 goals in 29 games while splitting time between the Galaxy and Fire. In the two seasons since, he has scored just seven goals in 29 appearance for his hometown club. Given his $400,000 cap hit in 2015, he’ll have to take a pay-cut, but he will land somewhere.
Mapp might just be the gem of this inaugural class. Sure, he just turned 31 years old and he missed most of 2015 due to a long-term injury, but he’s only one year removed from back-to-back eight-assist seasons in Montreal. For the right price ($186,725 cap hit in 2015) and with the right team, he’ll be one of the best fringe-starter wingers in the league.
Larentowicz, Magee’s now-former teammate in Chicago, is a more-than-serviceable starting center back, even at 32 years old, with the ability to seamlessly slot in at defensive midfield. He’ll be an intriguing option for teams looking to shore up either position with a craft veteran (hellooooo, D.C. United!), though he’ll likely have to do so at a slightly lower price than his $265,000 cap hit from 2015.
The other possible starter of the players mentioned above is Grabavoy, who ended up with NYCFC at the behest of Jason Kreis, who is no longer the team’s head coach. He’s approaching 300 games played in his MLS career and was a massive part of Real Salt Lake’s sustained successes from 2009-2014. As with Larentowicz, on the right team and the right system, Grabavoy will be a useful pick-up for something a little below his 2015 cap hit of $200,000.
Nagamura is wanted in Kansas City, where there are hopes he’ll take a reduced salary ($230,000 cap hit in 2015) to remain the first midfield option off the bench for Peter Vermes’ side. Moor is an interesting case in his own right, in that he’ll turn 32 in January, but he’s coming off of arguably the best season of his career. He could actually get close the his 2015 cap hit of $258,500 if a team believes he’s still a full-time starter.