The Colorado Rapids announced on Tuesday that the club has acquired 26-year-old midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye and a 2022 first-round SuperDraft pick in exchange for $1 million of General Allocation Money and an international roster slot. LAFC also will potentially get more money through performance-based incentives.
Kaye will join a very deep Colorado midfield, adding onto pieces like Jack Price, Kellyn Acosta, and Cole Bassett. Kaye has represented Canada at numerous tournaments and is currently participating in the Gold Cup with his country. He will not take up an international slot.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Mark-Anthony to the club and reinforce our midfield with a player of his quality,” said Pádraig Smith, Rapids Executive VP & General Manager. “He’s been one of the best central midfielders in the league over the last several years and has played a critical role in the success of the teams he’s been a part of. We look forward to seeing him integrate with our group as we enter the second half of the season and continue our push for a playoff spot.”
Kaye was an integral part of LAFC’s first season in MLS and was named to the 2019 MLS All-Star roster, but at times during the last two seasons, he’s looked to be the weakest link in a very strong LAFC midfield. I’ve watched him play with LA many times over the last two seasons, and almost every time I’ve been less than impressed.
BUT Kaye’s stats paint a different picture than my less-than-perfect eye test. Two of his more hyper-focused stats really jump off the page to me: progressive passes and dribbles completed. Compared to other midfielders in MLS, Kaye is in the 99th (!!!) percentile for progressive passes and in the 91st for completed dribbles. His attacking stats are impressive, and others like completed passes, progressive carries, and shot-creating actions, are all much higher than average as well, according to FBref.
Defensively, Kaye is less-than-impressive, stats-wise, being below the 50th percentile for most; however, playing next to a more defensively adept Jack Price may help him out. You could argue that with LAFC, Kaye was forced to play out of position, being tasked as more of a box-to-box midfielder and sometimes LAFC’s deepest midfielder. That won’t be the case with the Rapids.
A question that remains is: What does this mean for Cole Bassett? There have been rumors of selling him to a European club since he signed with the Rapids. If Bassett is on his way out, Kaye would best be utilized as the highest midfielder in the Rapids’ 4-3-3, the role Bassett currently fills. If the Rapids aren’t selling Acosta or Bassett, is Kaye an immediate starter?
And while he would be a great depth piece, it also worries me that this trade may stall the development of young midfielders like Oliver Larraz and Philip Mayaka. If Kaye isn’t a starter for the Rapids, then he takes Larraz’s spot on the bench and keeps Mayaka with the Switchbacks.
The final thing worth noting is the price the Rapids paid to land Kaye. This move is one of the most expensive inner league trades in the league’s history, being worth about as much as Darlington Nagbe a few years ago, but the market has since inflated. Still definitely an overpay in my opinion, but not by much, especially if the Rapids sell Sam Vines and/or Bassett. If this is the price they must pay to replace Bassett, then so be it.
The Rapids have made moves like this numerous times in the past, taking an out-of-form but clearly effective player off of another MLS club and turning his career around with more consistent playing time and a change of scenery with guys like Auston Trusty, Jonathan Lewis, and Kellyn Acosta—all of which have succeeded since moving to Colorado.
Kaye is also an advocate for equality and social justice. He was elected to the MLS Players Association executive board and joins now-fellow teammates Lalas Abubakar, Kellyn Acosta, Jonathan Lewis, Auston Trusty, and Collen Warner as a member of Black Players for Change.
Rapids fans and the Front Office alike will hope Kaye is another inner-league trade success.
What do you think about the move and what role Kaye will play for the Rapids? Tell us in the comments!