MLS- D.C. United

My take on the Christian Gomez trade


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Christian Gomez for a designated player slot and a first round draft pick. Think about that one for a second.

If you were a team that missed the playoffs last season and haven’t finished better than fourth in the West for three straight seasons would you give all that up for a 33-year-old Christian Gomez?

I know I wouldn’t. And I’m not sure if any other team besides the Colorado Rapids would have.

That’s the gist of my take on the Rapids-DC United blockbuster last week for ESPN.com. It is a trade that has officials around the league clapping their hands in the direction of DC United, which has fleeced yet another team.

Let me clarify one thing. It isn’t that I don’t think Gomez can play. He’s still an impact player, one of the best in MLS, but for Colorado to give up so much when DC had few, if any, other suitors willing to pay anywhere near that price for Gomez, is terrible.

Give my column a read and share your own thoughts on the trade below.

  • Dave

    Speaking as a DC fan, i was at first sad to see him go, and spent months trying to block the rumors from getting to me. Then when he finally went, i realized “Hey we got Gallardo, potential for a 2ND DP, and the first round pick from colorado next year…not bad.” So, in the end, I think it was a good move for DC (stupid on Colorado’s part), but I’ll still get all torn up when we play him next year. Good luck, Christian!!


  • GLD432

    I am with you Ives, way to steep a price to pay for Gomez. Colorado already knew that DC was not going to bring him back, so they only had to hedge their bets against Gomez going outside MLS. However they came to an agreement with Gomez and I am sure DC would have taken alot less versus getting nothing. This one baffles me, I vote the Rapids FO as the most inept in the league after this one. 1st roud draft pick and maybe another pick or two or some allocation money is all that should have been paid.


  • inkedAG

    Yup, the Crapids sure are suckers!!! šŸ˜€

    It’s so refreshing to read about MLS and dumb, awful mistakes and not have RBNY anywhere in the column!!


  • MM

    Why has CO struggled for so long? Oh wait, this is why. Good Luck Gomez, you’re gonna need it.


  • Keith

    Ives, can you confirm that the DP slot was included in the trade. Everywhere else it has been reported that the DP slot was included, but only DC could use it, and it was only for the next 2 or 3 years, and would then revert back to the Rapids.

    Your ESPN article seems to assume that they traded it away permanently.

    If CO are treating Gomez as their DP for the next 2 or 3 years, and they have no need for the DP slot during that period, then what exactly did they give up besides the first round pick?

    Please also remember that RSL received Nick Rimando in the Adu trade, who lead the league in saves last year. I am not sure I would call RSL a sucker, they sold a large number of season tickets because of Freddy, and many attribute the new stadium to his presence. That trade worked for both sides, and the Gomez trade may do the same, only time will tell.


  • Derek

    Colorado gave up way too much. They are paying Gomez what amounts to a full max salary hit, they can’t find someone in South America as a DP who would be even better than Gomez, but at still a max salary?


  • kpugs

    I can’t believe I saw DC fans complaining about this. They were NOT going to sign Gomez!

    They “traded” a player that wouldn’t even have been on their team in a few months.

    I called up the DC United front office and offered them $1 for Gomez. The deal was practically done and he would have been playing for Roche Soccer Club this spring if Colorado didn’t barge in with their absurd offer.


  • Ives

    Keith, did you miss this line in my column, “The reality is that trading away the designated player slot for two to three years”.

    And yes, I recall that Nick Rimando was a part of the Adu trade originally, but RSL turned around and dealt Rimando to the Red Bulls before getting him back in another deal. Thanks to that, I can’t really give them credit for Rimando in the original trade.

    And when you say “many attribute” the stadium to Adu’s presence, who might these many be? Did Adu being around three months really get the stadium done? Believe that one and I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    The only way you can say the Adu trade worked out for RSL is that it got the previous management fired sooner. From that standpoint, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought.


  • Curtis Spiteri

    Colorado continues to prove they are the worst managed team in MLS.

    So crappy that even I’ve been invited to their preseason camp. That’s right, me!

    Look for me between the wood wrok folks. I’m BACK!


  • Edward

    To me the wording of the official press release made it seem that Colorado didn’t trade away the DP slot straight up. Why wouldn’t they just go ahead and say that they had traded it away instead of stating “and future considerations”? The way I read it DC has first dibs on its DP slot, but they would still have to trade something for it.


  • Martek

    Man, Colorado proves once again why they have sucked for so long. Even when something good happens, they manage to make sure it comes with something bad. Are we all sure Alexi Lalas isn’t running that squad? Has anyone ever seen Lalas and Clavijo in the same place at the same time? I’m just saying…


  • dcpohl


    Wasn’t the DP slot only traded away for 2 seasons? I’m a Rapids fan and at this point I’m just happy to get a marquee offensive player, albeit a 33 year old Christian Gomez. The Rapids FO is terrible and I doubt they were going to sign a DP anytime soon anyway, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.


  • danj

    Colorado wasn’t going to use the DP.

    They needed a playmaker and time was running out.

    DC knew they wanted Gomez badly and wasn’t going to give him up for nothing.

    Even if nobody else in MLS wanted Gomez (we don’t know that for sure), he had offers for that much money overseas.

    DC would rather have Gomez in Dubai than face him in the regular season, so they had incentive and leverage to drive a hard bargain.

    Recent MLS drafts have shown even a first-rounder is far from a sure bet.

    DCU probably won’t use the DP to acquire a new player either. (They might use it to keep Emilio.)

    In the end the Rapids gave up what would at best be a medium-term draft project next year and would at worst be a talented kid who bolted to France before he could be signed (full disclosure: I’m a bitter DCU fan). That’s in exchange for the rights to the 2006 MLS MVP. The Rapids probably won’t lift the cup this season, but Gomez will get them closer at a reasonable price.


  • aristotle


    It is kind of weird. In your article here all that you say is:

    “Christian Gomez for a designated player slot and a first round draft pick. Think about that one for a second.”

    Then you follow it with:

    “It is a trade that has officials around the league clapping their hands in the direction of DC United, which has fleeced yet another team.”

    Just going by that information you certainly would think Colorado was fleeced. The weird thing is you didn’t mention here that the DP slot is only for two years. That makes all of the difference in the world.

    If Colorado just wanted an impact player and would be happy with Gomez as being close enough to a DP without getting sucked into a worldwide hunt for someone who may or may not make it in MLS, (think Reyna) and who would cost a fortune, they basically traded a first round pick for Gomez. Is anyone going to say that’s a bad trade?

    Gomez was arguably a DP level player anyway, but continuing with the “weird” theme. Here’s how the MLS website spins it.

    Beginning “We’re thrilled for the future,” said Colorado managing director Jeff Plush. “We needed to do something impactful. For people on the outside looking in, they know this is a club waiting to explode with the assets we have here.”

    Though the process took two months, Plush never doubted that the signing would take place. The Rapids traded their first-round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and future considerations for the rights to Gomez, and after negotiations between Colorado, D.C. and Gomez in Argentina, the deal was completed. End

    That makes it seem like a completely different trade! No mention of a DP slot being involved at all, just the draft pick and “future considerations”. I’m guessing “future considerations” means DP slot for two years? Certainly the way the same trade is described sounds like a world of difference and if the DP is for two years this is not Colorado being fleeced.


  • EDB

    I think its sad because they had to trade for his rights when he wasn’t going to sign and he was out of contract. I think MLS really needs to look into that, teams should get fleeced for an out of contract player


  • Ives

    Aristotle (and all), I state later on in the column that the DP slot is for two to three years (there are conflicting reports on this). I’m hearing that the DP could be for a third year if Colorado picks up an option year on Gomez, which it does have from what I’m told.

    Whether two years or three years, it was far more than Colorado needed to pay. That’s my opinion.


  • aristotle


    Thank you for responding. I am trying to understand how this could be a bad trade for Colorado, though. For a DP slot to have value doesn’t it have to be used? They clearly weren’t going to use it anyway so logically you would think it’s just a draft pick for Christian Gomez which sounds pretty good to me. Also, from what you just said, it sounds like they thought this through. If Gomez plays as he has in the past for the next two years, they got a league MVP type player for a draft pick and a loan of something they weren’t using anyway. If he is doing really well it would make sense for them to loan the DP slot for a third year to continue. When he’s done being of use, they get their DP back and get someone else. The only way I can think of when you say they gave up far more than they needed is that your thinking maybe they could have just tried to hold out just for the draft pick and loaned their DP to another team and picked up something for that? Lots of teams aren’t using their DP so I don’t know if their would be a big demand for a loan of one. Not big enough to get something significant anyway.

    The DCU fan posted a pretty good analysis of the trade. I think he was dead on unless there is something else to this trade. If I’m a Colorado fan I wouldn’t worry too much about the claims of them being robbed, but that’s just my opinion.

    Keep up the good work, Ives!


  • DWE4

    I understand everyone’s reaction to say that DC United robbed the Rapids. The reality is that it may end up being fair value to both teams.

    Consider each piece of the trade (apologies in advance for a long post):

    Gomez for a 1st rounder — Gomez is #2 in both goals and assists over the past 3 years to Taylor Twellman and Landon Donovan (respectively). The draft pool consists largely of American players. Taylor was drafted (despite having prior professional experience). Landon was not. History shows that Gomez’s consistent production is not typically found in the MLS Draft. (Nor has DC United demonstrated a large degree of acumen in its last few drafts.) Christian’s 33, but it’s not like he’s ambling about on the field with a walker. He was the heart and soul of United down the stretch last year. So, on this half of the trade, Colorado is getting a pretty good bargain.

    Gomez for 2 years of DP — Gomez signed a 2-year contract. He effectively becomes the Rapid’s DP. When he goes away, the DP comes back. It’s not that bad a deal for the team. United cannot exercise the DP option without clearing some salary space on their roster (we’ll have to see where they’re at when the Union releases salary data). Gomez takes up the same salary cap space as a DP. This is not a case of Rapids’ management failing to spend money. They’re allocating smartly. It’s true that their roster has limped through the past two seasons, but Christian understands the league, and he can flat-out play. I think he compares favorably to Blanco in terms of his output. On this half of the trade, I think it’s pretty even. Similar price to the Chivas USA trade, but for a much better player/person.

    In the end, Colorado gives up 2 things for one very good player, but it’s not as imbalanced as it appears at first glance. If Christian combines well with Terry Cooke, and if Colorado finds someone to put the ball in the back of the net, they may play spoiler to a couple of good teams out West. DC United has no incentive to keep him in the league, and they’re right to set a high price. But they still have to produce with the tools Colorado has given them.

    United’s last 3 1st round picks:
    2008: None — traded to Toronto FC for Rod Dyachenko
    2007: Bryan Arguez — only 1st rounder NOT to get onto the bench (sold to Hertha Berlin)
    2006: Justin Moose — Bust


  • papa bear

    I wish I could say I could agree with you more, Ives but it’d be impossible. Spot on.
    1st rounder and a little cash? That would be reasonable. A DP slot? no. Especially knowing that Chicago is looking for another one and maybe LA too. They could have gotten a LOT more for it.
    Gomez as a de facto DP isn’t going to be enough to turn them around. They were more than one player away and unless Gomez has a career year I don’t see how this helps other than to preserve Clavijo’s job for 2 more years.
    Plus, I know you could say this about just about any team, but they were more in need of someone who can finish. Ballouchy is raw but he showed some flashes of brilliance in the role Gomez is now coming in to take from him. Odd.


  • Tom

    Ives I think you lost the plot. Gomez is a very good player. The DP slot and the draft pick just have “potential value”. Gomez is a living breathing MVP level player.

    I’m a DC fan and am sad to see Gomito move on, but am happy we got something in reture. If you told me in the middle of last season that we would “trade” Gomez for a draft pick and a DP option I would not have been happy.

    I think the story is DC got more than they should have for Gomez – given the situation. Not that Colorado got suckered. Colorado got more in return than they gave up.

    Ives, about your “take”. It’s nice to be provocative every once and awhile, but many more of these pieces from left field and your articles are going to go to Del’appa/Canales don’t bother to read category.


  • DCUInWheaton

    One point I havn’t seen mentioned here is that the price for an MVP-caliber MLS A-mid was effectively set last year with the Amado Guevara trade. If I remember correctly, Guevara was traded to Chivas USA from New York for a DP slot and a third round draft pick. I can’t remember how long the DP slot was traded for, but I think that I remember Garber stating that DP slots can not be traded outright; that they CAN only be traded for a period of time.

    So, it looks like this most recent trade was similar to the prior trade involving an A-mid and a DP slot, with DC getting a bit more than New York got. Considering the careers of Guevara and Gomez in relative terms, I’d say the trades are about equal.

    One can argue that DC SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO get as much as they did because Gomez was surplus to the team’s needs, but I’d argue that this point fails because it’s Gomez’s value TO COLORADO that sets the price. The fact that Gomez was out of contract with MLS – meaning he could sign with any team not in MLS “on a free” – means that Colorado was bidding (potentially) against many teams for Gomez’s services; the cost of acquiring Gomez’s right from DC was just a part of the overall package.

    Just my two, or three, cents.


  • Ives

    Guys, it isn’t about what Gomez will or won’t bring to Colorado. I think Gomez is great. The main point is the Rapids didn’t have to give all that up for Gomez. A designated player slot is a valuable commodity in MLS, something multiple teams are desperate to acquire. As for the draft pick, I love how people write off draft picks as worthless when the fact is they still have value, particularly to teams that actually know how to draft.

    Colorado was essentially bidding against itself and traded away its most valuable commodity. That, my friends, makes it a bad deal.


  • DCUInWheaton

    Ives, I think that I see where you are coming from, but we seem to disagree on the value of 2 or 3 years use of Colorado’s DP slot.

    I agree that the use of a DP slot is a valuable commodity, but if Gomez is not enough, what would you say IS ENOUGH? What standard are you comparing this deal to? I compared it to the Guevara trade, which I think is a close comparison. Do you not think that my comparison is accurate?

    In any case, I will argue that it is indisputable that the price for Colorado to acquire Gomez IS EXACTLY what Colorado paid. One could argue that they’d have been better off with a DP (for 2 or 3 years) like Angel and a number one draft pick like, oh, Maurice Edu, but I could counter that with a Reyna and a Justin Moose. The actual value of those two assets woould likely fall between these two extremes.

    Thanks for the article and for your many replies, by the way.


  • Paul

    Did Chivas trade away their DP slot for eternity or will it revert back to them at some point?

    I have to assume the latter, because who would trade away something like that forever?


  • Eugene

    I agree with Ives that trading the DP slot for Gomez is a statement by Colorado that they don’t want to go out and spend more money on a younger, better attacking midfielder. They certainly could have found one if they were willing to pay $1-2 million per season.

    That said, having Gomez may indeed make them a much better team and I think its wise to reserve judgement on the trade from their perspective until after we see how the team performs this season. I like their forward pool in Conor Casey, Jacob Peterson, Omar Cummings and Niko. I also like Herculez Gomez as a forward and as a left wing. Colorado has a pretty good back line and also has some young talent that they’re developing, so all in all I think this may have been just the piece they were missing to bring it all together. (I didn’t mention Mastroeni, but I think he’ll work well behind Gomez)

    There has clearly been a development of two schools of thought here — one school is that teams can be successful without a DP (Houston, Chivas USA, NE, DCU last season), the other is that teams need a DP to be successful (LA, NY, DCU this season). It’s not clear yet that one school is right and the other is wrong, so I think its worthwhile to reserve judgement on Colorado until after the season. Acquiring Gomez may have just been enough to make the whole team gel for them.


  • Joamiq

    Ives, I pretty strongly disagree with you on this one. You’re greatly simplifying the issue. Gomez and Guevara are pretty similarly valuable players impact-wise, both fairly recent MVPs in central midfield, and two years of a DP slot and a first round pick sounds like less than a permanent DP slot to me. From DC’s perspective, yes, it’s a steal, but I don’t think it’s a bad deal from Colorado’s perspective. Ask yourself this question: can you imagine them possibly getting a player better than Gomez for two years of a DP and a draft pick? I can’t fathom how they could. You criticize the Rapids for being disingenuous by touting this as an example of their willingness to pull out all the stops, but if they had no intention to use their DP slot in the next two years – and there’s absolutely nothing to suggest they did – then this is a case of two teams each with an asset it had no use for. They trade them for each other and everyone wins. This isn’t a zero sum game.


  • DCUinCT

    Balouchy is certainly the odd man out here. Didn’t both RSL and CO have a lot of hope for him? He’s shown some true ability, but now seems kicked to the curb.

    Gomez should improve the team, but the whole seems like a big mix of players picking up checks. Mastroani still has some spirit, but who else? Not enough talent or heart. Just the team for Clavijo. Guess we’ll all see.


  • Ives

    Joamiq, no other team in MLS was giving DC United a designated player slot for Gomez. NONE. The only other team still interested in Gomez at the time Colorado acquired him was Chivas USA, which you know has no designated player slot to trade.

    From a pure value standpoint, yes, you can argue that it’s a fair trade and not far off from Guevara for a DP, but it’s not that simple. Guevara was under contract, Gomez was not. Guevara cost about $280K to $300K, Gomez will cost at least $4ooK. Gomez’s price tag at his age is why the list of suitors dwindled toward the end, but rather than negotiate, Colorado gave up the store.

    And yes, I get that Colorado probably never intended to use its DP slot, but by giving it up when it didn’t have to the Rapids missed out on trading it in a separate deal for a useful package.

    Each team only has a certain number of chips in this MLS game, and whenever you give up more than you should it’s tough to make it back up. Colorado was already at a disadvantage. The Rapids had a chance to make some real progress, some quality moves, but they didn’t do as much as they could have. Gomez should help Colorado be better, but the Rapids missed a chance to do even more.


  • aristotle

    I think we have established that this trade was not a bad trade for Colorado at all, that they did not give up the store, UNLESS Colorado really could have gotten something valuable for their DP slot for two years. The other elements of the trade seem pretty clear and it works out nice for both with no advantage given.

    So, could Colorado have traded for a valuable player, draft picks, a lot of money, or some combination of those for TWO YEARS of a DP slot? This is the only way you could have a point Ives.

    Since there are a lot of teams currently holding their DP slot and not doing much with it, you would think there wouldn’t be a big demand for using one for just two years. Certainly no one has done it yet. Who knows, maybe teams will start to trade their DP slots for a short length of time after they see this trade.

    I would like clarification on whether a slot can be permanently traded. I think most people believed this to be the case. If not, when is Chivas getting their slot back? This stuff is getting really ridiculous. It sounds like it’s being made up as we go along.


  • jeremy

    as a DC fan, i’m torn between:
    1) rooting for Colorado to be typically bad this year so that the traded draft pick will be higher
    2) rooting for Colorado to display a marked improvement this year in order to prove that i have been right to think of Christian Gomez as a maximum badass all this time.

    i’m with the crowd that likes the deal for both teams.


  • northzax

    everyone keeps saying that the DP slot is for ‘two years.’ without thinking of what will happen in two years…oh yeah, the CBA will be renegotiated. who knows what real value a DP slot will have in 2010? maybe there will be two, maybe the salary cap doubles, making it easier to sign $500,000 players, instead of shooting the moon for a million dollar guy. I wager things will look dramatically different in 2010, two new teams anda changed salary structure.

    just sayin’


  • Joamiq

    Ives, I ask again, what more could they hope to get for two years of their DP slot than Christian Gomez? I will grant you that Gomez costs more than Guevara in salary, but to me, that’s compensated for by the fact that indefinite DP slot > 2 year loan of DP + draft pick. I really think you’re overvaluing that 2 year DP slot loan. I can’t see how they could get a better player, or more than one really useful player, or players under contract for longer than the length of the loan, for that temporary asset. It seems like you’re only looking at this trade from DC’s point of view (and I think you’re neglecting part of that point of view – I’m sure they’d rather see him out of the league than on another team with just a draft pick to show for it). If you look at it from Colorado’s point of view, it’s really not bad at all. I think you’re right that the team still isn’t much good, but I don’t see what DP trade would have made them better off.


  • Ives

    Joamiq, you’re not hearing me. The Rapids could have had Gomez for LESS than they gave up. NO other team in MLS was giving up a DP slot for Gomez. NONE. Colorado was in position to make the winning bid on Gomez WITHOUT the DP slot. That is what makes their deal so bad.

    That’s why it was a bad trade, because they overpaid, spent more than the market was dictating, and in the process cost themselves a chance to trade that DP slot to somebody else. What would DC have taken for Gomez? How about a partial allocation? A partial allocation and first-round pick gets that deal done.

    What fetches more in a trade Joamiq, a partial allocation or a designated player slot? Now do you see my point?


  • Joamiq

    Haha, Ives, you have convinced me. I didn’t think an allocation was on the table because I thought any allocations they had might be necessary to actually sign Gomez. If that’s not the case, and if it would have been enough (and I trust you know enough about what was going on to know that), then the FO bungled this one.

    Basically, this negates my argument because they didn’t have to then trade their DP for the equivalent of Gomez or more. They just had to trade it for more than an allocation would net and they would come out ahead.

    All: we should not forget that our man knows his stuff. Trust him on this one…


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