The foolish Peguero trade
Kristian Dyer; April 21, 2006
The deal to acquire Jean-Philippe Peguero from the Rapids for Thiago Martins and a bevy of draft picks is an early indicator that head coach Mo Johnston is beginning to feel the noose around his neck starting to tighten. Peguero had a solid if not strong MLS debut in the 2004 season, using his size and strength to score a modest number of goals and earn a regular place on the Haitian national side. The move gives Mo Johnston two physical forwards as he seeks to upgrade the strength and prowess of his scoring punch in the wake of the Sergio Galvan Rey years.
The conclusions from this trade indicate the current mindset of Johnston, who is struggling amidst the rumors and front-office turmoil that has once again overtaken the club. Peguero is far from an elite striker in MLS, and while the man whom he was dealt for -- Thiago Martins -- will never be confused with an all-star caliber forward, it is bothersome to see the club mortgage so much of its future in terms of draft picks for a player of Peguero's modest capabilities. To say that Mo feels pressured to win now and is building his team for the very near future, is likely an accurate sentiment to draw from this trade.
Further, this move is yet another in a bevy of personnel decisions, seemingly made just for the sake of making more moves. With Peguero and Buddle up top, Youri Djorkaeff is now destined to slide into the central midfield role where his 38-year old legs will be expected to take on much of the playmaking duties. Where this leaves Amado Guevera in the equation of our starting eleven is a question not easily answered. It appears that Guevera might be the odd-man out in a 4-4-2 lineup, meaning that the 2004 MLS MVP is being dangled as trade bait. The most intriguing scenario involves a swap with FC Dallas for Irishman Ronnie O'Brien, who has been on the outs with the Texas club. O'Brien would give the club much needed width on the right side of the field, a trait that not even Eddie Gaven could consistently provide down the flanks.
Despite the positive upside of unloading the temperamental tempest that is Guevera, a move for a player like Peguero at this point of the season is clearly a gasping effort on the part of Johnston to find a lifeline before the good ship Employment sails away. Peguero is a solid MLS player, yet, at this juncture of the MLS season, it seems foolish to give so much of the team's future draft picks to obtain a slightly-above average forward. Peguero will most likely contribute at a solid clip throughout the season, but he is little more then a Cornell Glen or Fabian Taylor type player, which raises the question, could the club have not acquired a player, say from the USL or the Caribbean, for significantly less then Peguero will be obtained for?
Further, since the move opens up the door for Youri to truly play the #10 role for the team, Mo is essentially placing the full burden of the team's offensive spark on a player with notorious hamstring problems. More then playing as a withdrawn forward, the Frenchman now will be called upon to actively funnel the team's offense through his aging and battered legs, a task that his heart might be willing to do but most likely, his legs won't allow him to. The new role that Youri might assume in the midfield, could well be too much for him to handle over the grind of a MLS season. Without an effective number ten in the middle, this team would be like a one-legged man in a marathon.
In short, the move for Peguero comes at a high cost, not just in losing Martins (a wash in terms of talent) and the draft picks (foolishly nearsighted) but in terms of forthcoming moves that could jeopardize the team's ability to compete. Red Bull must remember that in MLS, the race is won by those who are slow and steady and that the second season-when the playoffs role around, is when teams must step up to compete. Quick fixes such as this trade and foreign saviors, rarely fly in MLS.