The Colorado Rapids traded away one of their international slots to NYCFC on Friday, in exchange for $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). The move was announced on coloradorapids.com.
Each MLS team is allowed 8 international slots for non-domestic players. The slots are tradeable (uh, obviously). Colorado is currently holding either 6, 7, or 8 slots, depending on the disposition of two undisclosed trades with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2016 and the LA Galaxy in 2015. Those slots may have expired their terms and reverted to their previous teams, or they may still be the property of the Rapids for the 2017 season.
The Rapids currently have 7 international players on the active roster: Dennis Castillo, Axel Sjoberg, Mekeil Williams, Bismark Adjei-Boateng, Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle, and Shkelzen Gashi. Juan Ramirez, an Argentinian international, is currently on loan with Talleres in the Argentinian League.
The move likely signals that the Rapids are done with off-season shopping. During the off-season, Colorado added MLS veteran Alan Gordon and Manchester City midfielder Adjei-Boateng. A rumored deal to acquire Ghanaian forward Gilbert Koomson was scuttled when he failed a physical, according to reports in Norway. The Rapids also signed two Homegrown Players from their academy; Ricardo Lopez and Kortne Ford. Lopez had recently completed his NCAA soccer career with Creighton, while Ford helped take Denver University to the NCAA Final Four.
The move may also indicate bad news for one or both of the Rapids SuperDraft players who are internationals. Peguy Ngatcha is orginally from Cameroon, although he has lived in the US long enough that he may qualify as a domestic player. Jaime Siaj is a Spanish international; for the Rapids to sign him, they will either need to remove Juan Ramirez from their roster, or acquire another international slot. None of the Rapids SuperDraft picks are yet signed. Most MLS teams make those signings just prior to the MLS season, although the Rapids waited to sign right back Dennis Castillo until April 22 last year.
MLS teams must be in roster compliance regarding the salary cap and their international slots before the MLS season begins. Many MLS teams, like Atlanta, San Jose, and Portland, are over their international slot number, and will need to trade for a slot before the season kicks off on March 4.
New York City FC had 10 international players with 10 slots up until Friday. Their acquisition of another international slot may be a clear indication they have one more move up their sleeve. According to my math, the Rapids are sitting a whole heaping stack of cap space, TAM, and GAM heading into 2017, along with a spare DP slot. That number is probably somewhere between $700,000 and $1.4 million, depending on salary raises for currently rostered players and the amount paid for Adjei-Boateng, who is a TAM-level signing.
While the Rapids might still add or subtract some players before the March 4 opener, I suspect the team is done with major roster moves going into the 2017 season. All that spare cash might prove useful, though, in the event the team plans a move in the summer transfer window.
And now, you can add to that amount another $75,000.