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DC to deal Vanney to Galaxy (and Ty Harden retires)



                                                                                     Photo by ISI Photos

The Los Angeles Galaxy is set to address its defensive woes by adding one of the league’s best veteran defenders.

The Galaxy is set to acquire defender Greg Vanney from D.C. United, sources with knowledge of the deal told SBI on Friday. Details of the trade were not made available.

The acquisition helps Los Angeles address a defensive need that grew more dire after the surprise retirement of central defender Ty Harden. Sources told SBI on Thursday evening that Harden has retired to work for a charitable organization after playing just one season in MLS.

Vanney served as arguably the best defender on the D.C. United back-line last season but proved expendable after DC acquired defenders Gonzalo Peralta and Gonzalo Martinez this off-season. DC managed to pull off a second trade involving a player it had no intention of keeping, having already dealt Christian Gomez to Colorado for a designated player slot and first-round draft pick in 2009.

Vanney began his MLS career in Los Angeles, spending six seasons with the Galaxy before moving to French club Bastia, where he became the first American to play in the French first division. He returned to MLS in 2005 with FC Dallas. A stint with Colorado lasted just nine games in 2007 before he was traded to D.C.

Harden’s retirement, which is the pending development we hinted at in Thurday’s Morning Ticker, had left the Galaxy in a desperate state because his combination of ability and a low salary made him ideal for the cash-strapped Galaxy, which has more than half its salary cap tied up in David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz. Harden started 24 games for the Galaxy in 2007.

According to West Coast sources, Harden told the Galaxy that he had lost his passion for the game and decided that he had lost the desire to continuing pursuing his professional soccer career.

As if Harden’s shock retirement weren’t bad enough, the Galaxy has also grown concerned with the form of Portuguese defender Abel Xavier, who has struggled in preaseason. According to sources, the Galaxy has been impressed with the form of rookie defenders Sean Franklin and Julian Valentin. The No. 4 pick in the 2008 MLS Draft, Franklin appears to have staked his claim to the starting right back slot.


  1. Here’s a very important point worth considering: The Galaxy places an inordinate amount of pressure on its players and coaches. Why do you think Yallop almost cracked up last year? You think he was used to the kind of mind games the Galaxy pulls? What about Donovan’s comments about Lalas after the friendly against Hollywood United? Harden is a sensitive man (and I mean that in a favorable way) who was probably fed up with the mind games.

    He might well need a year off to get his mind cleared so he can play with Seattle, if that’s his goal. After last year’s fiasco run by the Keystone Kops of Karson, can anybody blame him?

  2. Lalas is such a bad GM it makes me laugh. Why didn’t he stay in touch with his players in the off season and better know his assets. He should have traded Harden to DC and then let him announce his retirement. With the crap trades he has done in the past DC would not have suspected anything.

  3. I know I’ve seen Kirk play, but don’t really remember where (on the field)

    Did he play right midfield? If so, he’s cheap cover (with lots of upside, I think) for Ben Olsen, who is only just recovering from off-season surgery.

    DC is in desperate need of people who can cross the ball in from the wings. If Kirk can do that, or can learn to do that, he could be very valuable.

  4. As a Galaxy fan, I’m worried about all these 30ish guys on our back line. The Beckham injury got all the press last year, but the gimpy back line was, in terms of actually soccer on the field, probably a bigger problem.

    As a human being, hell, I say more power to Harden if he’s thought it through. Steve writes, “Play in MLS with David Beckham or backpack across Europe? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.” First, though, he’s not backpacking through Europe–sounds like he’ll be working a steady job (poor sap). And, second, my thought is if you’re a young MLS player, even if you’re only making $30k a year (way more than I made at that age, btw), and you still don’t want to play soccer with David Beckham, then clearly you should get out of the game because there’s nothing in it that will ever inspire you.

    FWIW, I’m with the crowd who would be delighted to live in a world in which effective do-gooders routinely made more than juiced-up relief pitchers and perfectly nice men whose only contribution to the world is having excellent reflexes. I don’t live in such a world, of course, so I post to soccer blogs to keep sane. To rephrase Homer Simpson: “Sports–the cause of and solution to all life’s problems.”

  5. The rich get richer again. Only DC can manage to trade two old over 30 players, not under contract to them for a Designated Player slot, two first round draft picks and a fast 19 year old midfielder with a lot of upside.

  6. Sounds like Daddy let him have one year to play around before falling in line with the plan.

    Play in MLS with David Beckham or backpack across Europe? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  7. Plus Nathanhj, I believe Harden’s going to be CEO for that Goodwill branch, which his father owns. So he may have just tripled his salary.

  8. First it sounds like Harden is going to work for Goodwill Industries (but that’s just based on what Nick Green reported in the Daily Breeze). Goodwill may have a shiny image of helping the poor and be a non-profit, but believe me they are in so many ways more corporate than corporate America. They are going to pay way more than the low-end of the salary scale and infinitely more than the developmental scale.

    But I think he left because he was lonely and didn’t have social connections, not because he was poor. Just the amatuer psychologist in me.

    On the trade itself, I think DCU did well. There’s no downside to having Kirk, even if he fails. He’s young, he’s GA, he sometimes plays with the U-20’s…

    He’s not really that good, I have to say as a Galaxy fan, but he could get better. He’s not going to start anytime soon. He currently has the first touch of a chainsaw, the vision of a blind squirrel, and the passing ability of a 50-year old accountant, but he’s only 19 and all these things can be improved with hard work and good coaching.

    I think the general mediocrity of the Galaxy front office continues to show through here. Yes, they have defensive draft pick up the ying-yang, but how many of those guys are going to stay? In the meantime you’ve got Vanney, Xavier (seeming to fade), and Babayaro who are all either almost 30 or over 30 playing in the back. Plus almost no young attacking players.

    I am consistently impressed with the DCU front office and though this is a fairly small deal overall it is emblematic of their ability to drive hard bargains that pay off. Hats off to Payne et al.

    Over here in LA someone needs to figure out how to bring Doug Hamilton back to life.

  9. You’re actually on to something there, Dominghosa. If the MLS wants to put people in the seats, and attract new fans, why not go the Galaxy route (meaning using the majority of salary to sign offensive players)? Wouldn’t most fans rather see a 5-4 game than a 1-0 game? Would the league and U.S. soccer be better off, in the short run, if the MLS was known (sort of like the Dutch league) of a league where defense was soft and there were lots of entertaining goals were scored?
    It would certainly be an additional attraction to foreign stars to sign here.
    Maybe the only salary cap in the MLS should be that the league mandate that the teams have a salary cap of only $100K to sign players playing on the backline. Just sayin.

  10. “I wonder if DC is absorbing any of his cap hit in exchange for larger considerations down the line.”

    Vanney was out of contract, so there is no cap hit to absorb. DC traded his rights to LA; it’s up to LA to sign him to whatever deal they want (presumably one worth considerably less than the $200K+ he made last season).

    “If Lalas were smart…” If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

  11. Easy on the melodrama fellas.

    This is a professional sports blog versus a charity blog (there’s definitely a joke there relative to MLS salaries) so of course the slant will be in the direction of the levels of MLS salaries.

    I’m sure a lot of us are making more to do less ‘meaningful’ work than nurses, teachers, social workers, etc….. but lets stick with the soccer versus getting hung up on our upside down society.

    We are the same folks hoping for help from the governemnt to build Soccer Specific Stadiums after all…..

  12. fireball…
    i had copied and pasted that quote and was about to make the same exact remark. it is truly a sad thing that we expect pro-sports players to make more than those helping charities.

  13. “Jay…let me guess, if they were acquiring Vanney instead of trading him you’d be telling us how he still has plenty left int he tank and a golden left foot.”

    Many DC fans were against that trade from the beginning, even more were once they saw Vanney play a few times for the team. Once they abolished the YI designation, I would guess almost every DC fan would admit they got the bad end of the Erpen/Vanney trade.

  14. I’m not sure that he’ll be making so much more working for a charitable organization… even if his dad is in charge over there.

    Then again, he could double his salary and still be making peanuts…

  15. If I were RSL, I would contact Harden and the Galaxy and see if I could work something out. I know Junction City, OR, where Harden grew up, and I can see why a small town kid would not like living in LA making peanuts. I think SLC and its environs would probably make a much better fit for Harden and its only an 8 hour straight shot to Reno down I-80 by car.

  16. Follow the money guys.

    This is the result of the abysmal salaries these guys make on the low end of the totum pole. Why play soccer when you could make more money and have a better life outside of it?
    In the US at least.

  17. actually he was making a little over 30,000, but its playing pro. many mls pros would eat s**t to be in that position. That just prove that love and passion for the game in the US.

  18. actually he was making a little over 30,000, but its playing pro. many mls pros would eat (crap) to be in that position. That just prove that love and passion for the game in the US.

  19. “He was probably making less than $30 grand a year. It’s sad when a charitable organization offers a better living than a professional sport.”

    Kpugs, I respect and agree with many of your posts, and (I think) I know what you meant to say. But at the risk of being sanctimonious prick, I think it’s sad when a professional sport offers a better living to people than a charitable organization.

  20. I wonder if DC is absorbing any of his cap hit in exchange for larger considerations down the line. If Lalas were smart, he would see if Vanney could be installed as a player/coach and have some of his wage covered off-cap.

    MLS has done this in the past and there should be a fair formula the league could apply to make it happen (i.e. coaching salary could be no more than X% of total compensation) to keep it from being abused.

  21. Check out the opening to Goff’s report:

    ‘I received a text message very late last night (and did not see until after consuming my shredded wheat this morning) from a reliable source that D.C. United is trading veteran defender Greg Vanney’s MLS rights to the Los Angeles Galaxy.’

    I really heard it first. Honest guys, stop making fun of me!!! Mommy! The other bloggers aren’t playing fair!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

    Mmmmmmmmm fiber……..

  22. Harden was crap. The guy was never gonna be more than a 30-40K player and a bech player most his career.

    His departure really is insignifigant.

  23. Nick, George, I definitely get what you mean but it’s not exactly selling your soul when you are paid in bags of peanuts, you know? I’d agree with what you guys were saying if he kept on playing for big bucks despite not having the passion anymore. But these days in this league, with players making jack crap, it’s even understandable to me when a player quits despite still having passion because he’s basically making minimum wage from the spring to the fall.

    Jay…let me guess, if they were acquiring Vanney instead of trading him you’d be telling us how he still has plenty left int he tank and a golden left foot. Either that, or your blind and didn’t see him play once last year for your precious team. No one is saying he’s great, but you’re clearly showing fan bias by making him sound terrible. Good to know you can take off the DC Scum hat and give an impartial analysis. Oh wait.

  24. kpugs, I wouldn’t worry about the Galaxy’s salary cap. They’ve already stated that they’re going to have to move some people out in order to get under the cap. The deadline for doing so hasn’t arrived yet. First you sign the players, then you “let go” the others, and you fit under the salary cap.

  25. Greg Vanney is a shell of his former self. He has no left leg and was absolutely horrible at organizing the defense in DC last year. If LA pays him anything more than the league minimum, it will be overpaying.

    Thanks for taking him off our hands. We would have probably just cut him anyway.



  26. Let’s face it, Vanney is decent and not as good as he was, but he has a good left foot and teams like that. As far as I can tell it kept Jeff Agoos going approximately a dozen years after he should have retired.

  27. Bryan Namoff was DC United’s best and most reliable defender. He has been for a while.

    Vanney brought excellent organizational skill countered by glacial pace to the back line.

  28. Eric, he was probably sharing a 5 bedroom house with 30 other people on his MLS salary. He was probably making less than $30 grand a year. It’s sad when a charitable organization offers a better living than a professional sport.

    On a side note, how much is Vanney making. As a veteran and someone who is viewed as a solid contributor–and a guy who came back to the league from Europe–I have a hard time believing he’s making any less than, say, triple what Harden made. I want to see their salary sheet, they seem to just sign whoever they want at whatever price, no matter what.

  29. You can’t fault the guy if he’s lost his passion for the game. I have tremendous respect for the decision he made rather than sell himself to the devil and keep doing something he doesn’t have the heart for….


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