R O’B to SJ + If I Were Kelly Gray….

A big ol’ Slap o’ Life is coming down the pike and that will keep me away from the site from the end of the day Friday until….well, let’s just say it depends on how many swings Life takes until it thinks I’ve had enough. The upshot of that isn’t major – god knows outlets for snark, soccer, or both aren’t in short supply on the Web – but this does mean I won’t get to my final Off-Season Progress Report until sometime next week. And that’s just as well, in some ways, because all the players, furniture, etc. get nailed down by next Monday (for the most part), which will give us something concrete to talk about.

In the meantime, however, any player movements that make their way over the transom will get due coverage – provided, at least, I know anything about the players involved. Put another way, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the meaning of Franco Carracio’s arrival in Houston or Kenny Deuchar’s house-call (oh, the doctor puns!) to Real Salt Lake.

What I can kick around is the apparent trade that sent Ronnie O’Brien from Toronto FC to the San Jose Earthquakes. Or, as I like to think of it, wow, Toronto just traded away their offense. An exaggeration perhaps? Mm…maybe. Or, as the Toronto Star’s write-up suggests, maybe not:

“[O’Brien] was on the field for every one of the team’s goals in the first half of the season. Both of TFC’s record goal droughts last year coincided with stretches of the schedule O’Brien sat out with his bad knee.”


“O’Brien, a two-time MLS all star with FC Dallas, registered four assists in 13 games from TFC last season, but chronic problems with his right knee limited both his playing time and his effectiveness.”

I’ve always been high on O’Brien. He’s got a great “soccer-brain” and the physical tools to capitalize. The only question is, of course, his fitness. One the upside, a trip down his statistical memory lane shows a player with remarkably reliable attendance….at least until he got to the plastic-turf paradise of BMO Field. That gets one wondering if O’Brien kind of stamped his feet until some kind of deal came through. O’Brien was never shy when it came to griping about turf, so that wouldn’t surprise me overly. Then again, maybe the franchise pushed. You know, once a knee goes…

At the same time, perfect deals don’t come along all that often – at least for teams who aren’t DC United – but this deal holds serious potential for San Jose. Unlike a number of observers, including me, the Earthquakes brain-trust isn’t so worried about their offense. And I suspect they’re less worried still with O’Brien on board. So, the player gets grass and the Earthquakes get one of the league’s more consistent offensive threats. Neat. I’m still working out what Toronto gets, apart from cap space that is.

(UPDATE: To flag one of my larger blindspots, I tend to be a little tuned  out on the financial/mechancial aspects of any given deal; impact on the field, I think I do OK…the rest, not so much.  Anyway, Soccer By Ives fills in that particular gap, mainly be mentioning space under the cap (hey…I got one) and a pick in the 2009 that should be pretty high.  I think Ives rates the value of that pick higher than I would – e.g. what if the player the choose leaves, what if he sucks, etc. -and I’d credit San Jose for getting one in the hand….assuming that one isn’t broken, right?)

Finally, and on a totally unrelated subject, a line lifted out of an LA Times article about who the Los Angeles Galaxy left behind got me thinking about the vagabond existence of a professional soccer player – one, in particular:

“The latest setbacks involve Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle being sent back to California because of injuries, Kelly Gray, Kevin Harmse and Israel Sesay also returning to Los Angeles, possibly to be traded, and Hong Kong officials saying a March 9 Galaxy game there might not take place because the Galaxy has not done the necessary paperwork.

Here’s the first thing that came to me when I read that: “Damn. If I were Kelly Gray, I would fuggin’ retire.” And that tells me a couple things, first among them, this is precisely why I’m not a professional soccer player (admittedly, the lack of ability enters into it as well). You might wonder, why not say the same about Kevin Harmse or Israel Sesay? Because neither of them has moved four times in the past three seasons. Maybe Gray likes the variety, I don’t know. But you’d have to think, if he’s not retiring, he’s probably wondering whether he can become The Man on some United Soccer Leagues Division 1 team…you could always come back to Portland, Kelly. We’ll take you. Chris Brown is already here…

At any rate, I’m not 100% sure where I’m going with that. I guess I just feel sorry for the S.O.B. It’s not a tough life for everybody, but it’s tough for a lot of them. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t blame the guy for retiring to sell real estate….though, given the timing, I’d really have to wonder if he’s paying attention to the news.


11 Responses

  1. Kelly actually has his own line of sportswear. Not sure it’s better than real estate, but…

    I also think this kind of sucks for him. It doesn’t pay to be in the $100-200,000 range in the MLS right now. You’re expendable. Especially at the Galaxy.

  2. I lied. Gray was at $85,000 last year. So I amend my previous comment to “$75-200,000.”

  3. Hmm…I’d move from sportswear to something necessary, something that doesn’t rely on disposable income. Maybe a line of diapers or high-end, yet affordable toilet paper.

  4. It doesn’t pay to be between $75-200,000 in MLS and be playing horribly. Let’s face it, he is a classic MLS underachiever.

  5. Ouch…though I have to admit there’s some truth to that. I’ve seen some horrible days out of Gray; the glaring one for me was when he was with Houston playing against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champs Cup; he gave the ball away like porn fliers in Vegas. In Gray’s defense, though, I’ve seen a couple really good performances as well. I think versatility is his chief upside and, with that, it only takes enough moments to become an asset…or enough of one. But, yeah, I don’t think he ever settled in LA. And maybe that’s it.

  6. I’ve seen Kelly Gray in his early days in Chicago and it was a sad day for me when he left for San Jose. Gray is not necessarily strong playing as a D-mid so there’s the main problem right there. He played better in Chicago as a right back or, better yet, a right midfielder. Or how about if the Galaxy play him as a target forward like his days in college? C’mon, he can’t be any worse than Alan Gordon.

    If I were Gray, I would ask to be traded back to San Jose. First, that’s his home town and who doesn’t like playing for their home town team? I mean, I imagine it must have sucked ass to finally play for your home town team only to have the team move to Houston. So why not go back? San Jose could definitely use an experienced MLS player, Gray could definitely get the hell out of LA while he can, and Los Angeles could probably get a draft pick out of it.

  7. Good plan. God knows SJ needs the personnel.

  8. He came to LA because of his association with Paul Bravo, but I agree he might end up in San Jose as Yallop continues to pick LA’s pocket as Gullit dumps personnel and replaces them with (insert rumor of the week here). I also agree , to be fair, that playing him as a D-mid was the wrong choice. The Galaxy’s problem is that they need quick fixes (and by that I mean a time machine) and if you are aren’t producing on the field and you make more than the league minimum, you’re screwed. Watch for Gray, Martino, Harmse and Sesay to be gone by March 29th.

  9. I agree about everybody but Sesay, Josh. He’s Gen. Adidas, so his salary doesn’t count against the cap. I really, really hope LA will hold onto him and nurture him a bit. (This — nurturing young talent — is something MLS sucks at in general.)

  10. […] over at Center Holds It talks about him a little bit today, and the commenters seem to think it’s because we insisted […]

  11. Good luck in whatever’s going on. When you get back, please look at Blue Blooded Journo. Gauntlets been thrown y’all!

    Also, would you like to be my got-to guy for my weekly Q&A with opposing team bloggers when the Revs play the Crew? I know you are covering the Crew and the Rapids, but I think I’ve already got someone in CO.

    I’m looking for LA, CHV, CHI, and a few other team bloggers if you or your readers know of any good ones.

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