FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – If recent history is any indication, don’t expect too many names to be called when Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process unfolds on Monday afternoon.
Last year just two players were selected in the first stage of the inaugural Re-Entry Process, with Joseph Ngwenya heading to D.C. United and the rights to Aaron Hohlbein picked up by the Columbus Crew. Ngwenya didn’t register a single goal or assist in 16 appearances in 2011 and subsequently had his option declined by D.C., while Hohlbein turned down the chance to sign with Columbus and instead joined the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League.
Teams had more success in Stage 2 one week later, as 11 players were selected, including Josh Wolff (D.C. United), Juan Pablo Angel (LA Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Chicago Fire) and Tyrone Marshall (Colorado Rapids). The Revs made a pair of selections, acquiring Ryan Cochrane and the rights to Fred.
“You never know, but I do expect it to go similarly to last year,” said Revolution General Manager Michael Burns. “A lot of teams could prove me wrong [in Stage 1], I just think that there’ll be more activity [in Stage 2] than [Stage 1]. I think that will always be the case, really.”
The reason for the discrepancy is quite simple. Players selected in Stage 1 must have their options exercised or be extended a Bona Fide Offer if out of contract, while players selected in Stage 2 must only be extended a “genuine” offer – presumably at a lower figure than their previous salary – within seven days.
Basically, players come cheaper in Stage 2.
“It’s stating the obvious, but a lot of these decisions are cap driven,” said Burns. “I say that as a general statement, not just specifically for the Revs. You look at a lot of these guys and they’re out there not because they’re not good soccer players, but when you’re dealing with a salary cap in any league – particularly ours – it’s challenging to keep every guy you’d like to keep. That’s usually a big part of it.”
With that said, there’s risk in passing on a player in Stage 1 in the hopes that player will still be available in Stage 2. Technical staffs could feel the need to acquire a player at a higher price to avoid the possibility of losing out to another club.
“Some teams may not want to risk if there’s a guy they really like, waiting until [Stage 2] to see if he’s still there,” said Burns. “But there are reasons a lot of these players either options aren’t picked up or they’re out of contract and they haven’t received Bona Fide Offers.”
The Revs have the second overall pick in both stages of the Re-Entry Process – set for consecutive Mondays on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 – by virtue of their finish in the 2011 MLS standings. Vancouver Whitecaps FC will select first, while the expansion Montreal Impact has the 19th and final pick.
Having such a high selection does slightly alter the calculus as head coach Jay Heaps and the Revolution’s technical staff prepares for the Re-Entry Process, but regardless, the end goal remains strengthening the squad through any available methods.
“Jay and I will certainly compile a list of potential guys that we’d like to target,” said Burns. “We’ll spend some time really thinking about it. For us, it’s obviously the play on the field, but you want to do a little homework and find out a little bit more about the player off the field, in the locker room. All those sorts of things factor into a decision that you might make.
“We don’t know yet for sure if we’ll take anyone on the Fifth or if we’ll take anyone on the Twelfth,” Burns added. “We absolutely look at it as a possible way to strengthen our team. Whether it’s a starter, whether it’s a squad player, all that factors into it … If we feel like we can strengthen our team, then we will absolutely select someone. If we don’t feel that, then we’ll pass.”