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Toronto trades O’Brien to San Jose for allocation and No. 1 pick on ’09

The long-rumored trade of Ronnie O’Brien to San Jose has been completed.

Toronto FC has traded the Irish winger to San Jose in exchange for a major allocation and San Jose’s No. 1 draft pick, sources told SBI on Wednesday evening.

The trade is a significant one for both sides as it gives the Earthquakes their first major offensive weapon while Toronto clears salary cap room as well as acquires an allocation valued at approximately $300,000, an allocation it will use to either sign a foreign player or complete another significant trade with.

Then there is the draft pick, which could prove to be a valuable one. Why? The consensus around MLS is that San Jose is going to struggle in 2008, which could make the draft pick as high as No. 2 overall (with the Seattle expansion team picking first). That could help Toronto land Hermann Award winner and Toronto native O’Brian White, who will be one of the most highly-coveted players in the 2009 draft.

Was it too high a price for San Jose to pay? Considering the Earthquakes gave away the No. overall pick in the 2008 draft for Nick Garcia, a marginal veteran defender, they probably think they paid a fair price for Ronnie O’Brien.

What do you think of the trade? Share your thoughts below.


  1. John:

    That information was from a SJMN article printed before the Economic Development meeting I attended. Based on preliminary information. The same reporter was in attendance at the meeting but apparently there was a decision (editorial?) not to run an article stating it would have a net positive impact both on the general fund and redevelopment fund.

    Go Quakes.

    And I see Ives thinks we won’t make the playoffs. What’s the line on that? We’ll make the playoffs again.

  2. In my opinion, its a better deal for Toronto than San Jose and it demonstrates that Trader Mo is still fantastic at getting good deals. I wish the Red Bulls could do that!!!

    Toronto can now pick up a creative attacking mid abroad and will likely have a good team this season, assuming their forwards can stay healthy and perform.

    San Jose picked up a useful piece but is silly to gamble on this year at the expense of the future. Their defense is strong enough to keep them from giving up too many goals, but I don’t see San Jose being great this year.

    I certainly disagree with those who think RSL will be worse — RSL has gone through a significant overhaul and now looks pretty strong at most positions, plus has some good young depth. With those players being together in the pre-season, I think that team will gel and be a force this year. Look for Movsisyan and Findley to have break-out years.

    So Mo ends up with space and a probable #2 pick next season — not a bad bit of business!

  3. @john and Colin McCarthy:

    Thanks for the updated (to me) information about the Santa Clara Stadium. I was careful to use the words “my understanding” because I hadn’t heard anything else, but thought things could have changed.

    The last thing I can remember about San Jose was something to the effect that negotiations with Spartan Stadium had fallen through and that the team might have to play at least it’s first season at multiple under capacity venues. I am glad to hear this is not the case. I hope this situation works out well for San Jose’s fans.

  4. Did you write this John?

    “You post a completely biased question – leaving out particulars such as increased property tax revenue and including baseless remarks such as “cost-benefit analysis …says that San Jose’s general fund would be better off if the deal never happens.” Really? Look, the particulars of that report have to do with the way the Redevelopment agency is structured vis-a-vis the general fund. The stadium deal itself is not bad for the city. If the relationship between the redevelopment agency and the city of San Jose is bad, then I don’t see why positive developments like the stadium should suffer. The soccer stadium deal itself will lead to the sales of property for the purpose of new housing (note that this will be sold to developers, not that Wolff will develop it personally) which *will* increase property tax revenue.

    Furthermore, there is some talk that the stadium is taking the place of potentially lucrative retail property – except that, as has been noted in many many places, retail space is not as lucrative as it has been due to a variety of factors, most notably a stagnating economy and the continued rise of online retail. Building a huge retail development at this date could be a huge white elephant for the city.

    I also note that, in spite of your best efforts, there remains overwhelming support for the stadium in this poll 🙂

    -John Mark”

    Suck it up, buddy it could be worse. AEG could be still asking the city/people to fund the stadium project. Maybe you’re upset that you don’t get a chance to vote on it?



    See the Soccer Silicon Valley Website for real information.

    Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that our home town newspaper hates us.

  6. John:

    From Colin’s post: “They are looking for areas in that district to replace the zoning.”

    Presumably, that would replace the loss, if any.

    Also, the stadium is part of a redevelopment plan on a site that has been empty many years. The redevelopment would include retail space, hotel space and office space. The land will be leased from the city at market value. So the project itself – which is only partly about soccer – has the chance to benefit the city.

  7. Matt from the Bay Area… so naive.

    Here’s from the recent analysis…

    “A plan to build a soccer stadium for the Earthquakes would be a boon to San Jose’s redevelopment fund, according to a new city analysis. But at the same time, the report concluded, the proposal could actually make things worse for the city’s strapped operating budget.

    The city would lose the tax revenues produced by industrial and retail land, which pour cash into the general fund. Compounding that lost income, new housing actually requires the city to spend money. To support new residents, the city must hire more police officers, firefighters and other expensive personnel.

    The city report, prepared by the Berkeley-based consulting firm Economic & Planning Systems, projects that the city operating budget would lose $100,000 to $1.1 million annually if the land is rezoned.”

    Who do you think funds that budget? Enjoy the increased taxes.

  8. Amen Colin. That’s all I wanted to say, but couldn’t because I should be working now. We gotta bring some enlightenment to these east-coast biased fools!

    -As a person who has watched the Quakes in pre-season. We held our own and drew against a full DC squad and beat a full Columbus squad, with both goals coming against the first team and one by juking Hejduk out of his jock strap.

  9. For those who do not know the poster Colin McCarthy, he was a major part of the fan group that stepped up and nearly saved the original MLS Quakes (but for an 11th hour setback) and then did amazing work setting the stage for the new Quakes.

    Colin and Soccer Silicon Valley are genuine heroes of American soccer who have proven time and again that fans matter.

  10. Couple of points about San Jose and the stadium situation to respond to above. The team will not be nomadic. All but three of their games will be played at Santa Clara University’s Buck Shaw stadium, upgraded to about 12,000 seats. It’s in a nice location and you might actually be able to see the new stadium going up from it, assuming the city approves Lew Wolff’s deal to build it. The opener against Chicago and two LA games will be played in the Oakland Colesium. They expect to be able to sell more than 12,000, obviously, for those games.

    The stadium deal does not hinge on public financing, as that would necessitate a public vote and was one of the stumbling blocks in AEG’s attempts to get a stadium here. Wolff is a real estate developer and he’s proposed an entitlement to get the stadium built. The city will convert zoning on a piece of property from industrial to residential, which he will then sell for $80-$100M. All the money will be used to build a stadium the City of San Jose will own.

    The stadium will be built right next to our airport – so every visitor to SJ will see it as they come and go – and since it’s adjacent to the flight paths and not under it, it will actually be quieter than some downtown locations previously sought. The city council needs to approve the conversion – it hinges on whether they can replace industrial being converted so there is no loss in tax base. They are looking for areas in that district to replace the zonging. A recent economic development meeting also found that a soccer stadium in San Jose would have a positive net impact on the city’s general fund of $1.2-2.1M dollars.

    Hopefully the EIR will come out positive – 12/08 is the date given – and the negotiations on terms of the deal on the site by the airport will go well. And we’ll have a stadium by 2010-2011. Knock on wood.

    As for the comments about fielding a competitive team from the outset with veterans. I think they want to field a competitive team, but there are not all veterans out there. It’s a good core of young MLS players mixed in with some key veterans. This move is very good for us. Not sure how many butts in the seats it will get, but it’ll help us score some goals.

  11. Gypsies??? You see where Kansas City is playing this year? A minor league baseball stadium.

    We will be playing at Santa Clara University (a soccer powerhouse) for every bit of the 3 years before the new stadium is built. The upgrades being made will make it manageable, but at least the pitch will be of correct length and width.

    We will also be playing in the A’s stadium (for the LA games to maximize profits from the Becks effect) which has held a few international friendlies

    The proposed stadium will not cost the tax payers a dime. St. Lew has our back, and we are closer to a stadium than Houston is, at this point.

  12. This trade is probably fairer than it looks on the surface. There are a lot of good points made here that when pieced together give us a pretty good idea of the reasoning behind this trade for both teams.

    You could say it’s not that great of a trade for Toronto when you consider how valuable O’Brien was to Toronto last year when he wasn’t injured. His injury along with some others was the beginning of the end for Toronto last year when they were on a tear and looked like they were going to finish above the .500 mark. Add that to how thin this makes Toronto and you could see how it makes some Toronto fans nervous.

    The flip side is that a top draft pick and a major allocation for a guy who could have a problem with injury seems pretty high on the surface. However, now that he is away from the artificial surface he may be fine.
    Lets assume that he is fine. O’Brien looks like a smart trade when you consider what he did for Toronto last year as a struggling expansion team. That is exactly what San Jose needs now. If he does the same thing for San Jose that he did for Toronto, without the injury, this is a great trade by Yallop. Then there is the great point made here by some that Yallop is probably disgusted with unproven players and his wonderful stint in LA. That alone would probably not be sound reasoning, but the biggest factor in the whole trade for San Jose could be getting as many proven players who can play now and avoid the type of startup season that RSL, Chivas, and Toronto (for different reasons) had in their first years. This is understandable.

    San Jose’s owners seem to be taking a chance by jumping into the league before they are ready. My understanding is that they will be the first MLS team to enter the league as Gypsies, playing at several different and probably inadequate facilities. This doesn’t seem like a good way to build fans or start off on the right financial footing. San Jose just lost a franchise and who knows how the fans are going to react to them coming back if they felt like they were kicked in the teeth. I think from San Jose’s point of view it could be VERY important for them not to stink and finish last in the league or division. Understanding this makes Yallop’s reasoning seem sound. Though it may not seem like it, this is probably a good trade for both teams.

  13. I think San Jose is trying to put out a competitive team in year 1 to enhance their chances at public financing.

    The government doesn’t want to put tax payer dollars into a stadium (appropriately)… the owner wants the tax payers to flip part of the bill or give land to him (neither should happen).

  14. Another proven player for a draft pick and an allocation. Great move. Earthquakes will be a good team this year. TFC will still suck.

  15. Once Toronto gets O’Brian White next year, everyone doubting this trade will realize what a smooth move Mo just made. Hopefully he holds onto the pick and drafts White, who is well worth the price of a ticket. The kid will make Lombardo look like mince meat. Hopefully Mo can figure out how to get him or Seatle’s #1 pick with that probable #2 pick and a player and land O’Brian. Kid is an amazing talent that.

  16. A steep price to pay? Sure. But it has potential to be a win-win for both teams.

    SJE could have used the $$$ on a foreign import – someone unproven in the league. Instead they used it on an All-Star quality player. The 2009 1st round draft-pick, has no chance to influence 2008 — ROB will. Besides, Yallop tends to trust veteran players over youngsters, and he’s had a lot of success finding starting/bench-quality talent from the scrap heap of the MLS waiver wire, so the draft is less important to him than to other coaches.

    If ROB sits out most of the season with injuries, then I’ll view this trade as a good one for TOR, a bad one for SJE. If he gets into 15-20 games in 2008, then I’ll view it as a wash. If he gets into more than 20 games, then I’ll see it a good move on the part of SJE.

    I think SJE may not win a whole lot of games, but they’ll be hard to beat too. I definitely see them being in contention for a playoff spot in late September.

  17. In other news, San Jose traded Kevin Pugliese the no. 1 pick in 2010 for an old pair of his gym socks, holes and all.

    Deal of the century. I’ll be donating said pick to RBNY, for them to trade for a future Chicago Fire coach to be named later.

  18. I don’t know about the quakes side of things, but I like the trade for Toronto. Their problem last year wasn’t quality per se, but depth and injuries. Knee problems never just disapear, and a 300K allocation to find a healthy replacement sure looks good–IF Mo can find the right guy. And draft picks mean depth and potential down the road. I think Mo’s building from the ground up which is the right approach. The mob may be getting restless up north, as Aljarov says, but how restless would it be three years from now if Mo took a shortsighted approach, and it undoubtedly failed–a la Toronto’s beloved Maple Leafs.

  19. Interesting link there about O’Brien, Jeeves. I have several European friends and I’ve traveled around much of Europe and most Europeans I’ve asked about where they like to go in North America almost always point out the Sun Belt. Even with Americans general unpopularity abroad due to Bush and the Iraq war I’ve never heard anyone tell me they want to live in or visit Canada. I’ve usually heard Florida, California, Texas etc. In addition to the weather I often hear people talk about how they believe that people from those areas are friendlier and they believe those areas are wealthier and more livable. Sometimes someone will bring up wanting to go to New York, D.C., Boston or Chicago since they’re such cosmopolitan areas but otherwise it’s usually somewhere warm, spread-out and completely car-dependent…

    It’ll be interesting to see how MLS tries to tap into that “life-style” component as it continues to look abroad for talent, especially DP-level talent.

  20. With the moneyball philosophy of the quakes, I doubt they would have used the allocation anyways. It’s hard to miss something you won’t use, so from that standpoint, I’m okay with the trade. I am concerned about how we don’t have any stud young players, but if we did, they’d probably go to Europe anyways… I can’t wait until the dollar rebounds so that we can keep more non-superstar quality Americans in MLS.

  21. It’s a good trade for both sides – ONLY if Mo doesn’t bring in another chump like Andy Welsh.

    Right now, I’d take a signing of almost anyone in Toronto….MO has cut the team to the bones. I think SJ have as many players as TFC now and on current trend, I’d expect TFC’s natural 1st rounder to be higher than San Jose’s. Yeah…I think SJ looks pretty good for an expansion team, where as TFC only have about 18 players on the roster now.

    He also isn’t ‘oft-injured’, two turf-induced injuries last year and a previous broken leg, don’t make this guy washed up. He was in my top 3 favourite players in MLS (I have him on my TFC shirt) an VERY disappointed to see him go.

    Mo better have a plan….the mob is getting restless up north and his head will be on a stick if he ‘parlays’ this allocation money and capo space into some crap Coca-Cola reject.

  22. Seriously, O’Brian White? That’s his name? I’ve heard of people having two first names (ex: Rick Frank), but two last names? That’s a new one.

  23. I’m with you Michael F.- TFC kicks ass. I live in the ATL, so I don’t have a horse in the MLS race, but I’m loving the increased exposure of the league and the fact that there is a real “hot stove” kinda feel to this offseason. And no doubt about it, TFC is the most interesting club in MLS to observe. Of course when I say that, I’m speaking about all the things that make up a club outside of the actual play on the field- and I think I’m pretty representative of outside-market MLS fans in that I’m rooting for the on field product to mirror the quality of the other aspects of the club ASAP

  24. When O’Brein came into MLS, I thought he had a shot at being the best player in the league. He also struck me as a great example of the reverse talent flow – an answer to Americans going abroad. He was exactly what the league should ind: a talented player who underachieved and needed a second chance.

    So I’ve always been a big fan of his and I’m glad he joined the Quakes. I do balk at the price (injuries). Doyle and Yallop clear have little regard for draft picks, which I think is a mistake. (WIth the cap, cheap good players are important.) I wish it could have been either the pick or the allocation. But if he stays healthy, he will be a great player for us. In fact, if the Quakes stay healthy, they have a shot at being in the middle of the pack this year.

  25. I think Ronnie O would’ve been very useful for Toronto to get that scoring going, and in SJ he’s not going to have much help. I think SJ is going to be awful, and this doens’t help Toronto immediately. We’ll see what signings they have coming . . .

  26. It seems obvious to me that San Jose is making short sighted moves and is shooting a roster rehaul once they can own the new stadium revenue. The mentality must be to put something that can compete on the field asap so that they can recapture the fan base. I think they are 2 to 3 good to mediocre moves away from having a playoff contending team just because you can get to the postseason in MLS with a strong defense. While LA, Chivas, and Dallas will be able to score the rest of the west is pretty bad offensively. I can see SJ competing for the 4th spot in the west early in the season as opposing offenses would still be coming together. Early season success = tickets boost.

  27. What do I think? Hmm…I gotta tell ya, I was a Metro season ticket holder in Year 1, 1996. And I am STILL a metro fan, but it is hard not to just love TFC, the moves they make, the great fans they have, the stadium, the fact that Canadians love beer, the list goes on and on…

  28. As long as we find a decent replacement (obviously always a key thing in a trade) we should be ok. Looks like a fair enough deal (tho R.O’B does have nagging health probs and allocation does not). I think if Ronnie stays healthy he will be incredibly effective for San Jose. I guess even if hes not healthy he will be effective (just to a lesser degree, HA). Sweet god, please stop making us wait MO!!!!

  29. Clearly something big in the works coming from MoJo in Toronto. I’m not sure that SJ is going to struggle as much as people think. NM

  30. Probably a good trade for both sides. O’Brien was never going to stay healthy playing over half his games on artificial turf. With Guerrero on the left and O’Brien on the right, SJ’s midfield is starting to take shape. If they can find an attacking mid to play in front of Vide and Grabavoy they should be pretty strong.

    If they do a good job of identifying some International forwards San Jose may be able to keep their heads above water this coming season.

    (off topic – What do you think of the Scottish forward signed by RSL, Deuchar?)

  31. $300K + #1 draft pick…….seems like a lot for a guy coming off knee problems. SJ that still lacks much firepower at the forward position (Kei Kamara??, Gavin Glinton??, trialists like Fabrice Noel and Matt Taylor??.

    Assuming they are healthy, the SJ midfield could be decent with O’Brien, Ivan Guerrero, Ramiro Corrales and Joe Vide/Ned Grabavoy/Shea Salinas.

  32. What is John Doyle doing?

    I still can’t believe that the SJE gave #1 overall pick for Nick Garcia and the comp for oft-injured O’Brien seems high as well!

  33. It seems like Yallop got fed up with young unproven players last season, and is trying to fill his roster with veterans, whatever the cost.

    O’Brien for that much seems like a major risk to me with his recent injury problems.


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