Last week Major League Soccer announced an intra-league loan system that would allow clubs to loan players to other clubs within MLS for a full season. The hope of this new endeavor is that players who aren't currently seeing much playing time for their club could spend time with another club where they would be more likely to see meaningful minutes and subsequently gain valuable game experience (like any loan deal, in essence).
In order for a player to be loaned, they must be 24 years old or younger and can only be dealt during the primary MLS transfer window. There is no limit to the number of loans that a given team can be involved in, whether incoming or outgoing, and roster slot/budget considerations are able to be negotiated between the two involved clubs on a case-by-case basis.
In a typical soccer league, introducing a new loan system for the first time would normally take some significant time to warm up to, especially in a young league like MLS where teams are a bit closer competitively (mainly due to its salary cap). But MLS has one advantage in its inherent structure that would allow this new system to be embraced right out of the gate; and that advantage is that it has two separate conferences. As you all well know, in MLS' current structure, teams of opposite conferences only play each other once a season. With that in mind, I would argue that loans between teams of different conferences makes even more sense in that they have even less of a likelihood that the move could significantly hurt the loaning club.
So, with all that in mind, we here at the Bent Musket have identified some prime candidates from the Western Conference that could help the Revs cure their scoring issues...
1) Omar Salgado - Salgado, a product of the Chivas de Guadalajara youth system and first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, is a known commodity that spends most of his time on the Vancouver Whitecaps bench. At only 19 years old, Salgado certainly has a world of promise but needs the playing time to prove it. Vancouver boasts an impressive forward corps of Darren Mattocks, Camilo Sanvezzo, and DP Kenny Miller in addition to other young prospects like Kekutah Manneh and Corey Hertzog. Simply put, Salgado is quite low on the striker totem pole (if not at the very bottom), so why not bring him to Foxboro and see what he can do?
2) Jack McBean - McBean has more games under his belt than Salgado, but must compete with world-class talent like Robbie Keane, Mike Magee and Landon Donovan in Los Angeles. Not only that, but his fellow home-grown player Jose Villareal who has been lighting it up with the United States U-20 team lately. Just this year the 18-year-old scored against Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League and by all accounts is finally coming into his own as a player. McBean is a fairly classic target striker with a big build and a nose for goal, traits that the Revolution arsenal currently seems to lack. The Galaxy may not be all that likely to part ways with McBean at this stage in his development, but Revs fans might even settle for Chandler Hoffman or Boston College alum Charlie Rugg.
3) Jonathan Top - The 20-year-old striker was signed as FC Dallas' fifth homegrown player in 2011 but has failed to see any significant minutes since then. His outlook in 2013 doesn't look much better for him, with Dallas utilizing Kenny Cooper, Blas Perez, and Eric Hassli as their main options up front. Those are some big names to contend with. The United States U-20 product may not have the same pedigree as McBean or Salgado, but he could prove to be a smart acquisition for a team that is struggling to even get shots on goal at this point.
4) Eriq Zavaleta - Yeah, that guy; the guy that many anticipated New England might draft in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Zavaleta, a hybrid center-back/target-striker is all kinds of thoroughbred American soccer player. His youth career includes the IMG Soccer Academy as well as time with the Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA, and the Columbus Crew youth academies. Oh and he won the national title with Indiana University last year, notching 18 goal, 4 assists on the way. The Seattle Sounders may not have room for Zavaleta on the field just yet, with players like Eddie Jonson, David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa, and their newly acquired DP Obafemi Martins to contend with. Zavaleta is yet another prime candidate for a loan, and New England could be a viable suitor.
So, there you have it. Some options that the Revs might want to consider bringing in on loan for the season to help them get some goals into the back of the net (or even just some shots on frame). Although the front office has hinted at an international striker taking up their 30th roster spot in the summer transfer window, it just might be too little too late by that point (unless, of course, Saer Sene returns to form sooner rather than later). We could also try to give Sainey Nyassi a run out, too, right?
Let us know which targets YOU would like to see New England consider in the comments section below!