The Dynamo, intent on completely rebuilding a team that was mostly disastrous in 2016, had a big day on Friday in LA. They made a big trade, drafted three players, and acquired a veteran defender who will likely start next year. It also set the stage for one final flurry of moves, which could include the acquisition of the long-awaited starting-caliber international No. 10.
Going into the day, Houston held the number four pick in the SuperDraft. I, and many others, expected them to choose center midfielder Jackson Yueill, a player who would fill a big need as a creative, ball-moving No. 8 or No. 10.
But with Yueill as well as top striker Jeremy Ebobisse on the board with the Dynamo on the clock, Matt Jordan took the opportunity to get some cash for the pick. I expect, without insider knowledge, of course, that a multitude of teams were inquiring for the pick, wanting to pick the highly-touted Ebobisse.
The offer they chose to accept was the Portland Timbers’, who sent the Dynamo three components: $100,000 of General Allocation Money, one international roster spot, and the tenth pick in the draft. Was this is a good trade? Let’s go a bit deeper.
It is safe to assume that they were receiving a variety of offers for the fourth pick. What made Portland’s offer special was the international roster spot, which will allow the Dynamo the freedom to 1) sign Jose Escalante and 2) acquire another international player, presumably a No. 10. Jordan and the organization, likely, prioritized this element of the trade.
$100,000 of GAM is not as much as the $250,000 Chicago got from NYCFC for the third pick (that was a king’s ransom), but along with an international spot and a top ten pick, it’s a solid haul that can be used to acquire a solid player, as we would find out.
If Ebobisse had not been on the board by this point — he wasn’t predicted to be — I would have expected Houston to bite the bullet on getting an offer like they got from Portland and take Yueill, who would be snatched by San Jose at six. It was no secret that they were considering a trade from the beginning, though.
Moving down to the tenth pick was an added bonus. The Dynamo likely had decided that they could still get someone useful if they moved down to go along with a crucial roster spot and some useful cash. Some would argue, though, that they did not make good use of that pick.
Midfielder Joe Holland — who is a less flashy and less creative version of Yueill — was that pick. From what I saw at the combine, Holland is actually relatively similar to Ricardo Clark. He’s not a bad player, but he’s no day one starter.
The argument against using him with a top ten pick is that he just as easily could have been selected much lower. Most mock drafts did not have him going in the first half.
If they liked him enough to pass on Yueill, then there is no problem with trading down and picking Holland. But why not trade down lower and add $50,000 of GAM? This is questionable maneuvering from the front office.
Then again, if Holland proves he was worthy of a top ten pick, we should all complement the Dynamo on their impressive scouting and draft day dealing. For right now, we can say the trade was a net gain, with some downsides.
That brings us to their second move of the day: acquiring versatile veteran defender AJ DeLaGarza from the LA Galaxy. The Dynamo gave LA $125,000 in GAM and $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for the right back/center back, who will likely step right into the starting lineup in March.
Here’s what that could look like:
The other option would be to start DeLaGarza at right back and play Leonardo (another former Galaxy defender) at center back, but Jalil Anibaba is better than the Brazilian, so I settled with this. The next task is to re-sign DaMarcus Beasley, and then use that international slot on a top-quality passer in midfield.
To do that, they’ll have to buy down Mauro Manotas off of his DP contract using TAM, which should be another one of their top priorities.
It’s been an offseason full of huge change and roster turnover that we haven’t seen from any other team in MLS aside from the expansion clubs. They still have a lot to do, but you could argue that the hard part is over.
Will all of this result in a 2017 playoff appearance? That’s a question for another day.