PERHAPS A BIT harsh for those involved to admit, but see Major League Soccer's upcoming re-entry draft as fall cleaning for the seller - and a garage sale for the buyer.
Sometimes you find a gem in the process, but mostly you're just buying someone else's unwanted clutter.
Yesterday, MLS released its master list ahead of Monday's first stage of the two-tiered draft that happens via teleconference with collective technical staff members among the league's 19 franchises. The second and final stage is set for Dec. 12.
How the draft works, essentially, is that clubs can draft players off the list but must exercise the option or extend what's called a "bona fide offer" to the selected player. Those players then can either accept or reject the BFO. Should rejection occur, the club that did the drafting reserves the right to refuse said player before any other MLS club can. Furthermore, should a team pass on its pick, it is out of that stage of the draft.
In the case of the Union, midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi and third-string goalkeeper Chase Harrison had their options declined by the club. One can only presume that in the case of Miglioranzi, given his disappointing performance this season, his sell-by date has expired for a club looking to open up some cap space. Miglioranzi, a 34-year-old Union original, collected $153,125 this season, appearing in just 17 matches. As for Harrison, 27, he's an unknown with a lot of upside. But the Union is secure in net with goalkeeper of the year runner-up Faryd Mondragon and second stringer Zac MacMath targeted as the future of the franchise.
The Union has until tomorrow at 5 p.m. to reconsider taking Miglioranzi and/or Harrison off the chopping block, but it's hard to envision either returning to the fold prematurely.
Remember earlier, when it was mentioned that there are diamonds in the rough? Three players in particular on the master scroll do allow for a second look.
They are MLS all-time goals leader Jeff Cunningham, who had his option declined by Columbus, in addition to D.C. United midfielder Santino Quaranta and Philadelphia native Bobby Convey, who reportedly didn't have the best relationship with San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop and is coming off his second knee surgery.
And after speaking with a Union coach close to Monday's proceedings, it isn't out of the question but "highly unlikely" that the club will chase anyone during this phase - focusing energies on MLS' SuperDraft (Jan. 12) and the subsequent transfer window (Jan. 21-April 15).
The bottom line? There are very few teams, and particularly the Union, that will rush to pay for aging commodities with no team to bid against and better options elsewhere. And while there are some undiscovered treasures sprinkled among the lot, the MLS re-entry draft is truly the essence of a last-chance sale.
Along with midfielder Zach Pfeffer, who recently left for Germany, Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and midfielder Amobi Okugo will spend their offseason training under European clubs.