Thursday, November 24, 2011

Puzzling Evidence

On Monday, the Columbus Crew, along with every other MLS team, released its list of players protected from the possibility of selecting by the Montreal Impact in the expansion draft. The ten players they chose to protect included a number of familiar names:
  • Balchan, Rich
  • Duka, Dilly
  • Gaven, Eddie
  • Hesmer, Will (GK)
  • James, Julius
  • Marshall, Chad
  • Miranda, Sebastian
  • Renteria, Emilio
  • Rogers, Robbie
  • Tchani, Tony
  • Anor, Bernardo
The inclusion of a former much-beloved DCU alum means that Columbus believed that Julius James and his $72k salary were important enough to the future of the Crew that the club risked losing an established contributor such as Andres Mendoza or Emmanuel Ekpo or an inexpensive prospect like Justin Meram or Korey Veeder. Again, we are less than one-year removed from the front office's determination that James did not merit a roster spot (replaced by Rodrigo Braseco) on D.C. United, dropping him into Columbus' lap at no cost to them.

For its part, D.C. United protected Dejan Jakovic.

Last season, Jakovic earned $201k to play 15 games, after managing 18 games in 2010 and 23 in 2009. In the 15 games Jakovic started, United gave up 24 goals -- a 1.4 goal against average per game that represented an improvement over the 1.5 GAA United had for the full season.

James started 31 of Columbus's 34 games and, in those matches, the Crew gave up 35 goals (the equivalent of a 1.1 GAA).

I like Jakovic and I enjoy watching him play. But the decision to protect Dejan and eliminate the possibility that Montreal would select a Canadian international that happens to be one of the highest wage-earners on the team seems about as puzzling as cutting Julius James.

Ethan White was automatically protected as a home grown player and protecting Brandon McDonald, who earned a paltry $45k last season, was an obvious move. With Perry Kitchen also protected, United has three good options at center back even before taking Dejan Jakovic into consideration.

And yet, there it is, United's front office will go into 2012 making the same gamble on Jakovic's health as has been made the last two seasons. And, at the same time, will go into the year with a complement of fullbacks that don't exactly strike fear into the heart of opponents.

It is unfair to kill the FO for dumping James without recognizing the shrewd acquisition of Brandon McDonald in season, but having benefited from Frank Yallop's erratic judgment already, people around the team have to have considered that Jakovic's salary would be better applied to trying to entice Bobby Convey back to RFK (perhaps this is not an option... I know nothing about Convey's previous tenure here).

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