The Union traded centerback Auston Trusty to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday in what could be the first of many big offseason moves.
Colorado sent the Union a sizable pile of cash in the deal: $300,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (for high-end signings) for the 2020 season, $300,000 in General Allocation Money (for the overall roster) for 2021, and a further $150,000 in GAM for 2021 if Trusty meets certain performance metrics (which weren’t specified).
In addition to that, if the Rapids sell Trusty abroad, the Union would get a cut of the transfer fee: 30% if sold before the end of 2021 and 25% after that, minus the allocation money agreed to.
So if, for example, Trusty gets sold in 2021 for $2 million, the Union would get 30% of $1.4 million, or $1.25 million if the performance incentives are met.
“I think it was a win-win situation, as well for the player as for us, and hopefully for Colorado in the future as well,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said. “If everything goes well and everybody’s winning and Colorado could sell him on, then we have certainly a deal which makes everybody happy.”
It’s a good amount of money, but it’s a sour end to the 21-year-old Media native’s time here. Trusty was the first area native to rise from the Union’s youth academy and high school to the professional ranks. Trusty played for the United States at the 2015 under-17 World Cup and the 2017 under-20 World Cup, and stands a chance of playing for the under-23 team at next year’s Olympics.
Trusty turned pro in the summer of 2016, spent a year and a half at Bethlehem Steel, then made his MLS debut at the start of 2018. He played 62 games for the Union, including every game of the 2018 regular season and 22 of this year’s first 24 league games.
He was benched at the end of July after playing in the Union’s two 4-0 losses in three games that month, and didn’t play for the rest of the year. After the season, it emerged that there was more to the demotion.
“Some stuff happened in the last fourth of the season. I can’t really get into it right now, but at some point in the future, you guys will find out the truth," he said earlier this month. “I developed my personal self more, I think — learning more about how soccer goes, the business of soccer and just how everything goes within the soccer realm. I was naive, and I didn’t really know much about it.”
Tanner revealed part of the “business” on Wednesday.
“I think Auston could have made it back, but given the situation that he was just for one more year under contract, that also played a role in our convictions," he said.
Talks on a new contact started at the beginning of the year, and the Union were genuinely interested in keeping Trusty. However, when there was no resolution, the Union started listening to offers.
“There are expectations arising we might not fulfill and would not fit our roster,” Tanner said. “At the same time, the player was not performing that well, and maybe that process influenced his performance.”
In addition to wanting a raise, were those “expectations” a move to Europe? Tanner said the only offers the Union received came from within MLS.
“European interest is nice to have, but if you want to have European interest, you need to also have a contract duration because otherwise the players are going for free [at the end],” Tanner said. “Selling Auston, with a one-year contract left in this moment, to Europe is just not possible. There was definitely nothing on the table.”
Among the domestic possibilities, the Rapids made the best offer.
“Colorado really showed us that they wanted the player,” Tanner said. “We have some responsibility to bring the player somewhere he has a fair chance to develop on, and continue his career."
Trusty posted a farewell message on Instagram Wednesday evening.
“From my days as an 8 year old at the Academy to now a 21 year old Union homegrown, I can say with conviction that my time in this club, with the amazing fans, and the strong relationships will always inspire me to play the best soccer possible,” he wrote. “This is my hometown and I remain incredibly grateful to have started my career here, although it is unfortunate the way these past few months have played out. None-the-less this club has helped me grow to the person and player I am today."