Lost in the midst of a crazy week of soccer was the quiet news that Real Salt Lake traded away midfielder Carey Talley to Chivas USA for a conditional draft pick. Not exactly a blockbuster, but the sort of small deal that tends to get done in MLS early in the year.
I’m proposing that we stop waiting for later in the year for a potential blockbuster. There is a trade that can be made right now that could help two teams fill needs and help two players head to more comfortable environs.
Chivas USA should trade forward Ante Razov to the Chicago Fire for defender Wilman Conde.
Why does the trade make sense? Well, for starters, Chivas USA’s defense is awful. I mean horrendous. Claudio Saurez looks to have lost a step and now the team is faced with the likelihood of being without defenders Lawson Vaughn and Jonathan Bornstein for several weeks. Wilman Conde is one of the best defenders in the league and someone capable of anchoring a back-line.
What’s in it for Chicago? It would reunite the Fire with one of it’s all-time greats, and a player who happens to play a position the club could use an upgrade at. Razov can still store goals in MLS, as evidenced by his stellar season in 2007. One thing he doesn’t do well is perform in environments where things aren’t going well. Chivas USA qualifies as such a place right now and if the rumors are true about a strained relationship between Razov and Preki then that would give Chivas USA and Razov yet another reason to want to make this deal.
If you’re thinking that the Fire forward stable is crowded enough, think again. Tomasz Frankowski has shown flashes but he has also been injury prone. Chad Barrett is as erratic as they come, making great plays one game and scuffing open chances the next. Chris Rolfe looks like an ideal candidate to partner with Razov, but he also has issues with staying healthy. Then you have Andy Herron, or at least the artist formerly known as Andy Herron, who is looking like a shell of his former self.
Would head coach Denis Hamlett and technical director Frank Klopas want to mess with a good thing right now? Well, both are fully aware that Conde’s unhappiness could become an issue, and both know Razov full well. Here’s something funny: if you take a glance at the 1998 Chicago Fire team photo you can find Hamlett (an assistant coach at the time), Razov, Klopas (a player at the time) and current Fire defender Diego Gutierrez all in a block together. The point is Hamlett and Klopas know Razov as well as anybody in MLS and if anyone can bring the best out of Razov, it’s Hamlett.
Is it worth it for Chivas USA? The Goats have attacking weapons in Maykel Galindo, Sacha Kljestan, Pancho
Ramirez Mendoza and newly-acquired Alecko Eskandarian (though he has yet to show that much), but the defense has looked downright putrid this season so the deal makes perfect sense. The real question is whether Conde would be okay with a move to Chivas USA. He obviously still wants to play for the Red Bulls, but that isn’t happening any time soon.
Can the trade work financially? Razov’s salary is almost $100,000 more than Conde’s but sources tell me Conde’s deal also includes a $100,000 a year payment to Millionarios as part of the transfer that brought him to MLS, so if you add that to his salary then both players create the same hit to the cap.
Some skeptics might wonder if it’s worth it to deal a young defender in his prime for a 33-year-old forward. Considering Conde is very unlikely to stick around MLS beyond 2009, if he doesn’t leave sooner, it would be entirely worth it for Chicago to make the deal and make a serious push for an MLS Cup title.
The trade can and should happen.
What do you think of the proposed trade? Fire fans, do you want Razov back? Chivas USA fans, would you part with Razov for a rock-solid defender? Share your thoughts below.