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Analysis: Making Sense of the Juan Agudelo Trade

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By now everyone has heard that US National Team starlet Juan Agudelo has been shipped from the bright lights of "New York" to sunny California in another blockbuster, media shattering deal orchestrated by the Red Bulls. Chivas USA the recipient of a potential MLS MVP did not come without a price as NY received veteran defender Heath Pearce along with allocation money and a piece of Agudelo's future European transfer fee. According to Soccer-by-Ives the allocation dollars could be as large as $200K while the transfer fee percentage is more or less 1/3rd of the total transfer value. 

There is a number of moving parts and interesting developments as a result of this deal which I will now rant to you about...
 

1. Why did NY Pull the Trigger? 

Hans Backe and Erik Soler made this move for a few reasons. First, they needed to solidify the backline which has been disorganized to say the least this season despite their recent winning streak. Between Wilman Conde's arrest, Rafa Marquez's injuries, Markus Holgersson's inconsistent form, and Roy Miller's positioning woes the Red Bulls have had very little continuity along the backline.

Second, Juan Agudelo wanted out. Whether Agudelo deserved it or not Backe was not starting him and as any ambitious player that story gets old after awhile. This becomes especially apparent when you are a young player that is excelling at the international stage and receiving minutes from a coach of Jurgen Klinsmann's pedigree and then you return home to ride the pine.

However it was definitely interesting to read that Backe said Agudelo wanted to move clubs as early as last season. To me this means frankly that emotions were building for quite awhile and NY should have been more strategic with this prized asset. In essence, if they knew this problem existed last year, Agudelo should have either been on the pitch or traded, and if a trade went down I believe NY would have received even more than they did this time around. 

Third, Red Bulls perceived forward depth. Yes, NY is stocked at the starting forward position. Thierry Henry in my mind, when healthy, is the best forward in the league and Kenny Cooper is playing like the man that was once a highly regarded forward prospect for the national team. Then you have Backe under the impression that he may get Luke Rodgers back, which I do not believe will actually occurr, but if it somehow does, those 3 are a nice 3 to have up top.

When you look under the covers though, especially beyond this year, you are left with an aging, injury prone star in Henry and a man that has seen his form fluctuate quite a bit over his career in Cooper. Yes, Dane Richards can play a speed forward role now and then but he's not dynamic enough to succeed in this position day in and day out. Red Bulls do have their first round draft pick to lean on, Corey Hertzog, when it comes to a future goal-scorer but knowing NY's track record with young players it's hard to think of Hertzog as a future centerpiece of this team. As a result, you have to question the statement that NY is STACKED at the forward position.

2. Long-Term Risk for NY 

For this move to truly not burn the Red Bulls completely they must win NOW and by win I mean win an MLS Cup this year or next. They really don't have an option here. They just gave up a MEGA MEGA prospect for quality parts but in the end these parts do not come close to amounting to Agudelo's future value on the field or off of it. Don't forget NY lost about two thirds of Agudelo's transfer fee if he heads abroad. Just think about the Revolution trading away Clint Dempsey and you will get an idea of how massive a mistake this could be. It's not quite at that level but it definitely falls under the same category.

Agudelo could have been the future face of the franchise, taking the mantle from Henry in a city that desperately needs a star player to get buts in the seats and instead they put all their eggs in the short-term basket which frankly is not that sturdy. Red Bulls must win now and win in style, LA-like style.

3. New Future for Juan Agudelo 

The clear winner of this trade is not NY, not Chivas USA, it's Juan Agudelo. Agudelo gets a clean slate, a slate in which he can start every day and get those much-needed minutes that will help him develop. Despite all the hoopla over his potential, the kid has to play. There's not a secret sauce here, the more Agudelo plays, the better he will get.

This is exactly what the doctor ordered for Agudelo and I'm excited for him to turn around the Chivas franchise and help them put together an LA Clippers-esque resurgence to compete with their winning older brother, the LA Galaxy, just as the Clippers did this season as they stole some of Hollywood's spotlight from the Lakers.

Somewhere Jurgen Klinsmann is smiling.


What did you think of the move? Would love to hear your thoughts...let's start the debate!

Get more great soccer analysis over at US Futblog.

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