(Editorial) – The Colorado Rapids have made some trading deadline moves. They have sent forward Luis Solignac to the Chicago Fire for General Allocation Money (GAM). They then traded GAM to the Philadelphia Union for veteran midfielder Sébastien Le Toux. Why were these moves made and what does it mean for Colorado? Let’s break it down.
Colorado Rapids Trade Solignac, For Le Toux: What It Means
First off, it’s really hard to have an initial reaction to trades like these because the cash amounts aren’t available (cause MLS is transparent as a brick). In theory, some of the GAM the Rapids received from Chicago was sent to Philadelphia. Let’s try and compare their market value.
Their production this season has been similar: Solignac with 3 goals and 2 assists in 1105 minutes this year. Le Toux has 2 goals and 5 assists in 1206 minutes. Le Toux makes more money and is older, but his contract is up this season. It’s possible the money exchange came out close to a net zero. Without the numbers, we can only evaluate the difference in styles.
Solignac hasn’t started a game since mid-June. The 25-year-old hasn’t recorded a goal or an assist since early May. The Argentine striker came into the season as a back up forward to Designated Player (DP) Kevin Doyle. Doyle was injured early on in the season. Solignac stepped into a starting role and played great. He was on the finishing end of chances created by Marco Pappa and others.
Everyone in MLS knows what Pappa can do even though he hasn’t always been a starter. Shkelzen Gashi and Jermaine Jones were the big midfield additions in 2016. When a defense has to think about a DP, a USMNT star, and an MLS yeoman, they tend to forget about the low budget no name Argentine. The Rapids system has worked at the time with Solignac because he is unassuming and thus able to get open. Most importantly, he finished his chances.
Doyle is the Rapid’s Captain and was clearly going to be the starter up top when healthy. Because Solignac was playing so well prior to that (and due to injuries/National team absences), head coach Pablo Mastroeni gave him a chance to start on the wing.
It didn’t work. Solignac isn’t a wide player by nature. He isn’t great at providing service to teammates. He also hasn’t developed good chemistry with any full backs he’s had overlap play with. This ultimately forced Solignac to the bench, exclusively as a back up to Doyle. With Doyle healthy, Solignac is a spare part.
Le Toux steps this needed role perfectly: chance creation from the wing and veteran leadership has been his mantra for years with the Union. However, at 32-years-old, Le Toux is no spring chicken; maybe he wasn’t fitting in with the youth movement the Union are building. He also hasn’t been starting much the last few months. With Colorado, he doesn’t need to start.
Pappa has come off the bench the last few games, but might be ready to start soon. Jones is reportedly back in training. Le Toux will need to occasionally start, but can be primarily a substitute to help rest the other veterans or save the legs of a Marlon Hairston. Since he won’t be starting, the altitude won’t be a huge hurdle, even at his age.
The Frenchman might be the best crosser of the ball from the run of play for the Rapids. While Colorado don’t score a lot of headers from the run of play, this is now another weapon they’ll have. Le Toux could be an option on free kicks as well. He’ll be able to provide service to Doyle, who’s been starved of late.
The forward’s been making such good runs to pressure opposing center backs, but has rarely gotten the service needed to do the damage he’s capable of. A recent game at Vancouver was a rare exception.
In this sense, this is exactly what the Rapids needed to help them finish the season strong. They got a wide attacking depth option. They got a player who will provide service to their goal scorers in Jones and Doyle. And they got him in exchange for a spare part in Solignac and possibly some cash.
As long as Doyle stays healthy and they don’t need someone to step in for him, this is a great Colorado Rapids trade for a rental player.