COUNTER: For Both Sides, Marcelo Sarvas Trade Came Down to Money

After Andrew Schmidt sounded off on why the Marcelo Sarvas trade leaves LA with a mess to clean up, here’s Chandrima Chatterjee with an opposing take:

This is not about bashing Sarvas. I’m the first to admit how natural the emotional response to losing a beloved player who helped secure a 5th MLS Cup for the Galaxy, and who took on the enormous responsiblity of ‘replacing’ David Beckham in the midfield is. I feel it too. Yet, emotions don’t rule the transfer and allocation process in the MLS. There’s actually just one thing that seems to overrule all loyalty ties, homesickness and the cherished magic of team chemistry that takes so much time and patience to build: Money.

Sarvas himself has stated it in his own way, indicating that he wants to plan for his family’s future with the few years of playing time that remain for him. “Every player and every athlete needs a new challenge. I’ve been here for three years and while it’s natural to get settled, I always try to look over those emotions. It was time for a new challenge to get the best for me. Last year, I showed my best here and now I think I need something more to get the best from me. This move came at a good time for me. I’m 33, it’s no secret and I know that I’m going to be retired in three or four or five years.”

I don’t think that it was a question of LA not having the money to pay Sarvas what he deserved or about the allocation money LA received in exchange. Would it have been better to wait another year before trying to trade Marcelo? He’s worth now more than what he’d be worth in a year — I feel terrible writing that since I’m in my 30s. With the addition of Steven Gerrard to the midfield, Marcelo’s leadership and experience would not get the field time it deserves. Overall, it was the best decision for Sarvas.

Marcelo’s worth now more than what he’d be worth in a year — I feel terrible writing that since I’m in my 30s.

So let’s address the possibility that LA Galaxy’s head coach Bruce Arena made the same error in judgement twice over Sacha Kljestan. It’s a game of chess. And the Red Bulls trumped LA by leaping to the top of the allocation order doing whatever they had to to get Kljestan. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice? After the public conflict between him and MLS’ commissioner Don Garber in which Bruce ended up being fined, it seems unlikely Arena would take on the risk of 3rd in the allocation lineup for that same player whose desires to play in the US have been clear for a long time. Just before the Red Bulls announced their deal, Bruce told LA Galaxy Insider, “Well, certainly it changes the pecking order on players that are available. That’ll likely be the case that may be our first preferred choice we wouldn’t get and we get somebody else.” No matter how many times I roll the thought over in my mind, I can’t see anyone risking it without actually having a different plan in mind the whole time.

No matter how many times I roll the thought over in my mind, I can’t see anyone risking it without actually having a different plan in mind.

Well, what’s the plan then or is it still developing? Bringing Sacha to LA last year didn’t pan out so a tactician would be thinking at least one step ahead next time around. There are many options available to LA Galaxy with that 2nd spot in the allocation order. I’ll just throw the one I see most obvious out there. He’s not new to the rumor list — the murmurs of USMNT’s youngster Bobby Wood wanting an exit from the 2. Bundesliga’s 1860 Munich are getting louder by the day. Wood joined 1860 Munich in July 2007. He made his first appearance with the senior team in January 2011 and had scored 15 goals in 92 matches. But a falling out with the team manager last October ended his hopes for remaining a relevant player (4 minutes of playing time). Given reports of his high price tag (€500,000), 1860 will have to lower their transfer-fee demands and start a bidding process at the end of this month. Theoretically do I see him asking for less than what Sarvas probably requested? Yes or equal. But even if he goes for $300,000, his potential and the likelihood that he would have many solid years with LA, a spot on the 2018 WC team and more, wouldn’t that be a worthwhile investment?

As for Bobby’s personal reasons, a return to California (he grew up in Irvine) would likely be welcomed. It brings to mind the ghost of Landon Donovan and his ‘retreat’ from Bayern FC, which in my mind, turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made, and one I never criticized him for. It seems that Klinsmann truly sees the potential in him too given the number of call-ups to the USMNT and compliments he doles out. The truth is, within the right environment and with more chances to work on his finishing skills and confidence; he could have as great of a legacy as that now famous former MLS forward hailing from Hawaii. I may be overstating his case a bit but it’s only 1 player of at least 3* that I can think of right now who’d be on the list of players to fit the coveted, allocation-worthy spot.

Overall, let’s put the emotions aside and think of it more as an investment in the future, and let’s believe that Bruce Arena knows how to steer this ship towards more MLS Cups.

*Alternate theory worth noting: that Bruce acts out of compassion and gambles a lot by taking a chance on a risky investment, Freddy Adu, giving the 25-year-old one last opportunity to shine.