If former Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin stays in Major League Soccer, his home next season might be FC Cincinnati.
Five days after the Union officially cut ties with Medunjanin, Cincinnati acquired the rights to him in Monday’s MLS waiver draft.
Medunjanin’s contract expired at the end of the season, and the Union did not want to bring him back. Free agency is only available in MLS to players age 28 or older with eight years of service time in the league.
Cincinnati’s move only gives the team the exclusive right within MLS to negotiate a contract with Medunjanin. If he wants to stay in the league, he must either sign a deal with Cincinnati or hope the club trades his rights elsewhere. If he wants to go to another country, Cincinnati can’t stop him.
Medunjanin had a terrific 2019 season for the Union, leading all of MLS in total passes (2,571), completed passes (2,182), passes in the opponent’s half (1,521) and completed passes in the opponent’s half (1,217). But the Bosnia native will turn 35 years old in March, and the Union want someone younger as their starting defensive midfielder.
The Union also would like that player to have more defensive bite than Medunjanin, which is understandable. This year, Medunjanin ranked No. 6 on the team in tackles per game (1.7) and No. 9 in interceptions per game (1.0).
Cincinnati conceded the most goals in MLS this year, 75, and the team’s -44 goal difference was twice as big as the next-worst team (Vancouver, -22). We’ll see what Medunjanin can do about that.
The Union didn’t pick anyone in the waiver draft, which is one of three offseason drafts that stop players from reaching free agency immediately when they are out of contract. Each comes with various levels of restrictions.
The other two drafts, titled Re-Entry Drafts, take place Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. The Union pick 19th in each.