Jay Heaps is going to be working real closely with Mike Burns to decide what to do with the top Allocation spot in 2012. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
The MLS summer transfer window is a fickle thing. It's the best time for most clubs to bring in high-priced and/or high-caliber foreign talent because most other leagues are in their offseason, leaving clubs free to shop around talent without disrupting a squad in mid-season. MLS clubs, obviously, tend not to be so finicky about such concepts as "team chemistry" and "being prepared at the start of the season so you don't need to bring in emergency reinforcements in July." You know, nonsense like that.
The New England Revolution is no different. As of Sunday, the Revs have a roster of 25 players, leaving them with three open slots to play with and, since John Lozano and Bjorn Runstrom have been moved off the books, two extra international slots and a lot of cap room to boot. Mike Burns has already come out and said that he and the coaching staff are looking at bringing in a couple of players and have extended contract offers, which sounds like they have a few targets already in mind. Also, there's the top spot in the MLS Allocation order, which gives the Revs right of first refusal on any US Internationals or former MLS players attempting a Stateside return.
Let's take a look at that allocation spot for a minute. With all of the recent hubbub at Rangers, it's long been assumed that the team with the number one spot is going to be the team who gets a hold of Carlos Bocanegra. General speculation has the USA captain coming back to MLS after a long and successful run in Europe, and should he decide that, the Revs are in pole position to claim him.
But let's stop for a minute and think a little outside the box here. New England recently cleared the books of a defender, yes, meaning that depth at the position could be a priority, but Bocanegra is not depth. He comes in as a high-priced and immediate starter. To that end, Jay Heaps has already shown great faith and preference in his pairing of Stephen McCarthy and A.J. Soares. One has to wonder if he'd consider breaking up that tandem at this stage of the season.
The Revs could try to hold out for a different player. Alejandro Bedoya may decide that home is the best place for him to continue his career, for example. Of course, justifying an expensive addition to an already crowded and skillful midfield might be difficult, regardless of Bedoya's quality. Furthermore, sitting on the top spot in the order is a major risk. Right now, it's a position of power, but every season the order is reset. New England will probably have to jump on the first real opportunity that presents itself.
Which brings me to my final point: it may behoove New England to trade the top spot rather than use it.
If (and it remains a big "if") Bocanegra is really coming to friendly shores, there are more than a few teams in MLS who will pay up big for the opportunity to snag him first. Plenty of clubs in the league are having defensive troubles, and top dollar can be offered for the name and talent of the USMNT captain. I'm not just talking cash incentive or a draft pick - we're talking a package of allocation money, picks, and players, in any combination, or maybe even all three.
Consider this: eleven teams (besides the Revs) have conceded more than 20 goals this season. Some have been conceding at ludicrous rates (Montreal, Toronto, Dallas). Any one of those teams could be in the running for Captain Carlos. And some of those teams have some real talent in the areas where New England is most deficient: up top and, ironically, in defense.
Most people will be looking for the blockbuster trade, the one that sends the top spot to, say, Dallas, and nets the Revs someone like Brek Shea. But what about a package deal that gets the Revs a solid defender for depth, who can push Macca/Soares (or Alston/Lechner/Tierney) for minutes, and then sets the Revs up for a top-5 draft pick next year? Or, even better, ships over a boatload of allocation money, making it exceedingly affordable for New England to sign a DP striker this summer. A real one this time, not a pseudo-DP like Caraglio.
I would start putting down examples and names, but, as with so many things in this league, it's nearly impossible to predict who is on a team's radar and who other teams would consider available for trade. All I know is this: last year, the allocation order was good to New England, when Benny Feilhaber dropped all the way to the Revs. This year, it could be good to them again, but they don't necessarily need to sign someone with it to get the full benefit.
Got any ideas for how the Revs should use the top spot? Any mock trades you want to float to the masses? Perhaps some DP names you want to put out there? Get the discussion going in the comments!