FOX Soccer Exclusive
Montreal making a great Impact
The construction of the MLS expansion side Montreal Impact has only just begun, but the moves made by Major League Soccer’s 19th team over the past week have certainly turned heads.
The Impact added a pair of proven veterans on Monday, landing 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts from Los Angeles for an undisclosed amount of allocation money, and securing the services of midfielder Davy Arnaud from Sporting Kansas City for Seth Sinovic and an allocation sources tell Fox Soccer is worth $100,000.
Davy Arnaud became expendable at Kansas City but could be crucial at Montreal. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The deals were the third and fourth trades made by the Impact since last week’s expansion draft, trades that landed a quality left back in Tyson Wahl and promising striker in Justin Braun. As encouraging as those deals were, they paled in comparison to the Ricketts-Arnaud double, a pair of acquisitions that could not have been imagined a year ago, and a pair of deals that would probably never have happened if both players hadn’t suffered injuries in 2011.
In Ricketts, the Impact secured one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, and a player who probably would have kept his starting job with the Los Angeles Galaxy if a broken arm hadn’t opened the door for Josh Saunders to take it from him. Ricketts is an imposing figure who can help reinforce a defense that could endure its share of growing pains.
Arnaud is coming off an injury-plagued season, but prior to 2011, the tenacious midfielder was regarded as an indispensable leader for Kansas City. Sidelined by sports hernia surgery last summer, Arnaud saw Graham Zusi blossom in his absence and the 31-year-old suddenly went from captain to trade bait.
Montreal did well to pull off both deals, but also benefited from some ideal timing. It has been clear since Saunders overtook Ricketts as the Galaxy starter that keeping both players was not an option for 2012. Los Angeles was always going to need allocation money to help keep together the nucleus of its starting lineup and with Ricketts having secured a sizable allocation (likely in the $150K-$200K range), the Galaxy will be a step closer to keeping the core of their championship team together.
Sporting Kansas City is in a similar situation, with several players coming off outstanding seasons and looking for new deals with higher pay. This, coupled with the team’s desire to add at least one more designated player, made securing allocation money and shedding salary a priority. Arnaud became expendable (as did Jeferson, Craig Rocastle and Milos Stojcev), though, bringing back Sinovic was vital because the 24-year-old is a quality starter on a small salary (he made a bit more than $32K in 2011).
The needs of teams like LA and Sporting KC made Montreal a perfect trade partner because of the large amount of allocation money MLS gives expansion teams to start building their rosters. It should also mean that the Impact is not done dealing.
There is still the matter of Brian Ching, who Houston wants back badly. Montreal is desperate to pry away Quebec native Andre Hainault from the Dynamo, but will have to pay much more than just Ching to make that happen. Houston has told everyone who will listen that Hainault is not for sale, but with the Dynamo in dire need of cap relief, Montreal just might be able to put together a trade package to convince Houston to part with Hainault.
Andre Hainault is high on Montreal’s list of transfer targets. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Montreal isn’t confined to MLS deals to strengthen the roster. Sources tell Fox Soccer that the Impact are actively pursuing Designated Player options, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Montreal secures a high-profile signing this winter.
Marsch and the Montreal front office are far from done building the 2012 Impact, but they are off to a great start. With players like Ricketts, Arnaud and Braun already in the fold, Montreal is well on its way to being a threat in its opening season, and is already proving to be a formidable foe at the trade table.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.