In a super surprising move today, we have confirmed that the Colorado Rapids did in fact trade defender Marc Burch to Minnesota United. In return, the Rapids will get midfielders Josh Gatt and Mohammed Saeid. It’s no surprise that Minnesota has an abysmal defense and wants to bolster it, but at first glance this move is a little confusing for Rapids fans (more on that below). Sam Cronin was waived by the team and then picked up by MNUFC. According to the official Rapids announcement, “Cronin, who re-signed with Colorado as a Free Agent in 2016, could not be traded to another MLS team.”
UPDATE 3/31: Turns out, MNUFC had to trade a third round 2019 SuperDraft pick to Chicago Fire to get the #1 position in the waivers. Just an interesting little tidbit of info. from our friends at E Pluribus Loonum.
Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni said, “Sam and Marc formed part of the foundation that helped the Rapids achieve one of the best seasons in club history. They were both valuable members of our team and our community and I’m confident they will have plenty of success for years to come.” Sporting Director Pádraig Smith thanked them for their role on the team, and added that “they are both top professionals who always gave everything for the team. As our captain Sam was a leader for our club both on and off the field and his contributions to the club will be long remembered. We wish both Sam and Marc the best of luck in the future.”
Josh Gatt has played two games with the US Men’s National Team, but hasn’t even made the bench this year for MNUFC due to a bum knee. He has had three knee surgeries, but apparently the third was required due to the second being botched. If he can recover and come back, he would bring experience to the team’s attack. Smith isn’t worried about Gatt’s playing ability, saying “although Josh has had injury issues in the past his talent is without question. He brings pace and an attacking boldness which will provide our coaching staff with another weapon on attack. We’re confident the move to bring both of these young players to our club will help bolster our attack while providing us with additional cap flexibility to continue to improve our roster.”
Mo Saeid has played in three games for the Loons, and was previously with Columbus Crew, where he had no goals and six assists over the course of 53 games. That being said, he could be a diamond in the rough as far as midfielders go, as he has a consistent passing accuracy of 89%. He is a player that passes forward and creates chances, and “his ability to find passes between the lines and move the team forward are key qualities we want in our club,” according to Smith.
Jeff Carlisle reported that the Loons are still going to pay part of Saeid’s $194,000 salary, which frees up a significant amount of space in the Rapids’ salary cap.
Besides the two players, the Rapids are also getting an international spot. Further analysis is coming, but after talking with the team, it seems as though there are several factors when it comes to this move:
- Bringing in younger guys (Cronin just turned 30 and Burch is almost 33);
- Nana now has a place as the team’s 8;
- making space in the salary cap to sign someone this summer; and
- they are fully committed to being a more offensive team.
My initial thought was WTF is going on, but it does actually make sense, if you look at the bigger picture of the shift towards being a more offensive-minded team and bringing in younger players that can help the attack. I am concerned that Gatt won’t work out, but the team is apparently willing to take a chance on him. Now that he’s a Rapid, looks like we have to give him a chance, too.
We will all miss Sam and Marc, and know this couldn’t have been an easy decision for anyone involved. We wish them nothing but the best in Minnesota.
UPDATE 4/1: It turns out that MNUFC had their eye on Burch and Cronin back around the time of the December Expansion Draft, so this was as spur-of-the-moment as we may have thought. According to this article in the Minnesota StarTribune, Sporting Director Manny Lagos said “our interest in Sam has never waned. There are just other priorities as the season began, and we worried that that ship had sailed. So when we figured out that it hadn’t quite sailed … we obviously jumped at it.” Back then, Cronin was protected, but Burch was not, and Minnesota clearly wanted both. MNUFC Assistant Coach Mark Watson worked with Cronin in San Jose.