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The Colorado Rapids at the Transfer Deadline

The secondary transfer window for MLS is about to close. Will the Rapids make a move? Can they?

The MLS secondary transfer window closes tomorrow, August 3. That means that MLS teams may not bring a player into their team after that date, but may still cut players or transfer them out.

What might the Colorado Rapids do?

1) They could do nothing.

2) They could trade within MLS.

3) They could buy a player from outside the league and bring them in.

Let’s take a look at the roster, and then extrapolate out from there. I will also try and do the math on what cap space we might have, if any. Note that MLS doesn’t disclose GAM and TAM transactions, so there’s a fair amount of ‘known unknowns’ here.

MLS roster, care of

Here’s the MLS salary rules, per

Up to 20 players, occupying roster spots 1-20, count against the club’s 2016 salary budget of $3,660,000, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Senior Roster.


The maximum budget charge for a single player is $457,500.

The team also has $150,000 in General Allocation Money, plus an undisclosed amount for missing the 2015 playoffs. They also received $800,000 in Targeted Allocation Money from the league, and undisclosed amounts of GAM and TAM from the sales of Marcelo Sarvas, Maynor Figueroa, and Clint Irwin. The standard number swapped in these types of deals, as reported back in January by Extra Time Radio, is $50,000. They also received GAM and Pfeffer from the Philadelphia Union for the #2 pick in the Superdraft (Joshua Yaro), and bought the #12 pick from LA for GAM, and paid GAM for Marco Pappa.

I’ll guestimate that the team had $1.1 million from all this. So, in total, the team had roughly $4,760,000 to play with.

For cap purposes, here are each player’s impacts on that $4,760,000. I’m going to use a player’s base salary, from this document released by the MLS Players Union.

Kevin Doyle: $457,500

Shkelzen Gashi: $457,500

Tim Howard: $457,500

Jermaine Jones: $457,500 (full cost of $600,000, paid down with TAM)

Dillon Powers: $270,000

Sam Cronin: $225,000

Sean St. Ledger: $191,875

Zac MacMath: $140,000

Marc Burch: $120,000

Marco Pappa: $110,000

Bobby Burling: $110,000

Zach Pfeffer: $101,000

Mekiel Williams: $85,000

Luis Solignac: $85,000

Caleb Calvert: $75,000

Jared Watts: $68,000

Axel Sjoberg: $66,000

Conor Doyle: $66,000

John Berner: $63,000

Michael Azira: $63,000


TOTAL Salary: $3,736,500*

That leaves $1,023,000 to play with.

Subtract from that the $133,000 they paid down for Jermaine Jones from TAM, that makes $890,000. Allocation money is also the slush fund for MLS team transfer fees. Tim Howard cost a $600,000 transfer fee. The transfer fee for Shkelzen Gashi is undisclosed, but has it at ~$2.75 million.

That leaves the team with...


negative $2.5 million.**

That leaves us to conclude that either:

  • MLS either paid part of the transfer fees for Gashi and Howard, or
  • the team got a bunch more GAM and TAM in those trades above than I thought, or
  • Gashi wasn’t nearly as expensive as that website thinks..

Nonetheless, I think it is safe to assume that, with all that hard work and math and guessing, the likely conclusion is this.

The Rapids are broke.

I don’t mean Stan Kroenke is broke. I mean, in terms of ability to buy and sell players, the Rapids have no money.

So I think we can eliminate the possibility of buying a player from outside the league.

What about an in-league trade?

I covered that in an article a few weeks ago.

The team could be in the market for a striker or a winger. In terms of assets to trade, they have three regular starting fullbacks for two spots, possibly a spare centerback, and a talented backup goalkeeper. You aren’t realistically going to get a front line striker for Bobby Burling, and the most available guy was Patrick Mullins, and he has already been sent to DC United.

Two of the other guys on my old list, Raul Mendiola and Jose Villareal of LA Galaxy, are unlikely to be traded, as rumor has it LA Galaxy aren’t entertaining offers for them. And Orlando just loaned Brian Rochez to a club in Honduras. Cubo Torres is almost certainly way too expensive for the Rapids. So maybe now you’re looking at Khiry Shelton. Maybe. Other than that, there just aren’t many strikers gathering dust in MLS that a sane team would make an offer for.

Any acquired striker would need to fit under the cap with currently available salary space, GAM and TAM included. As outlined above, if we have any money, it ain’t a lot. We’re looking at guys sub 100K, or guys so ineffective that the team that holds them will be forced to eat most of their salary. DC probably just made that move by grabbing Kennedy Igboananike, and Vancouver made a similar move to acquire Giles Barnes from Houston. Those were both guys I considered in my ‘Five Trades’ article, and didn’t include, since I thought ‘Naw, the Rapids aren’t desperate enough to do that.’ DC United and the Whitecaps, apparently, are.

In short, I think it’s really unlikely the Rapids make a move inside MLS, both for lack of good options and lack of money.

So They’re Going To Do Nothing?

Yeah. I’m pretty sure. I know a lot of fans want another winger or a better substitute striker option, but I just don’t see it happening. We just don’t have the assets to make that come to fruition.

So How Does Everybody Feel?

Are you OK with that, BWave readers? Are you not OK with that? Is there a signing this year that you feel has handcuffed us at this late stage from getting what we really need?


*Hairston and Miller don’t count toward the senior roster cap, as Generation Adidas players. Serna doesn’t count towards the cap as a Homegrown player. Juan Ramirez is on loan, so he shouldn’t (?) count against the cap. Dom Badji and Dennis Castillo occupy spots 21 and 22 on the roster (which don’t count against the cap.)

** There’s one other way to get Shkelzen Gashis transfer fee closer to or under the Salary Cap: the cost of a transfer can be amortized (spread out) over the length of Gashi’s contract.

Of course, we don’t know how long his contract is. But let’s say it’s four years, and MLS picked up half of Tim Howard’s transfer fee and the first $500,000 of Gashi’s fee. That would mean the Rapids are on the hook for $550,000 a year for Gashi (beginning this year) and $300,000 for Howard. Or, if MLS isn’t chipping in for Howard, his transfer fee is really only $150,000 a year over the length of his four-year contract. That would get them, with all of my other hypothetical math on TAM and GAM trades, just under the cap.

Now you see why I really, really wish MLS would disclose transfer fees, contract lengths, and allocation trade amounts. (Sigh.)