With the end of the MLS postseason rapidly approaching, more and more players are being revealed as out of contract with their clubs. While the Portland Timbers have yet to announce any players, the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, and Sporting Kansas City have all released their lists of players who could be on their way out.
Of course, any of these players could resign on a new deal, but their presence on the list has to indicate that they are available on some level.
The full list of players can be found here on MLSsoccer.com's 2015 transactions page.
Looking at the players who could be available, there are few out and out starters included and those that are tend toward the older, more expensive strata, like Aurelian Collin and Nat Borchers who we looked at earlier this month. Still, there are plenty of players who could add something to the Timbers. Let's take a look at the lists team by team and get to fantasizing.
The Fire have a remarkable fifteen players, half of their roster, on the outbound side of the ledger going into the 2014-15 offseason. Few of the players, however, have been difference-makers in Major League Soccer.
The two that do catch the eye as potential contributors from the list of soon-to-be-former Fire players are Gonzalo Segares and Bakary Soumare, a pair of defenders who have been around the league for some time now.
Segares, at 32-years-old, is no spring chicken, but he has been a steady contributor at left back for Chicago since coming into MLS in 2005, amassing 231 appearances for the Fire, interrupted by a six-month stint in Greece in 2010. He is capable of playing across the back line and could step into the role filled by Michael Harrington and Danny O'Rourke, providing the Timbers with defensive cover. The stumbling block for Segares has to be his salary, $173,333 guaranteed, which would make him marginally less expensive than O'Rourke ($55,008) and Harrington ($125,000) combined.
Soumare, a relative spring chicken at only 29-years-old, is an out and out centerback. Another player who left the Fire for the greener fields of Europe, Soumare spent three years playing in France and Germany before returning to the US, playing a year for the Philadelphia Union before returning once again to the Fire. Before he went abroad, Soumare was a runner-up for the 2008 Defender of the Year Award and was the anchor of the Fire's back-line.
Also like Segares, however, Soumare's salary is prohibitive. Having made $370,000 in 2014, Soumare would easily eclipse the amount that the Timbers are spending on Pa Modou Kah or Norberto Paparatto. Playing alongside Liam Ridgewell, Soumare would represent a significant amount of cap-space tied up in the Timbers centerbacks, something that would be very limiting for the team.
Like Chicago, the Rapids also went big, putting twelve players on the outbound list. The players potentially leaving Colorado look, in many ways, very similar to those leaving Chicago: young players who have not proven themselves and veterans who may just be too expensive for their level of output.
Grant Van De Casteel's option being declined comes as quite a surprise as the young defender did not have much of a chance to prove himself. Taken by Colorado in the 2014 Superdraft, Van De Casteel was a well-thought of talent but did not make a single appearance this year before being cut. Although there was little news about the rookie this year, he may just be worth taking a chance on, particularly if the Timbers can stash him on their USL Pro side to develop.
At the other end of the experience spectrum is Marvel Wynne, a veteran rightback and centerback with speed to burn. Wynne is another one of those expensive veteran players, however, and at $285,000 guaranteed is once of the more costly fullbacks in the league. To make matters worse, a rash of injuries has hampered Wynne recently, so any team picking him would have to know that he is not a sure thing to return to 100%.
The Crew, who ended the season in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference before being run over by the New England Revolution in the playoffs, look less like they need to blow things up and start over and more like some slight changes need to be made and their list of players on the outs reflects this.
The most intriguing name on the Crew's list has to be Jairo Arrieta. Although not a forward who will light up the league with rampant goal scoring, Arrieta has shown that he can play above a No. 10 like Federico Higuain, bringing other players into the game and spreading the ball around. With the Timbers likely to need Gaston Fernandez in a more creative midfield role given Diego Valeri's ACL tear and Steve Zakuani's retirement, a third, more experienced, forward could help the Timbers.
Sporting Kansas City
Another team that is not yet making wholesale changes, Kansas City still has a more diverse group in their option declined group than the rest of the teams to date. Unlike the rest of the teams, Kansas City are letting go a fairly broad spectrum of players.
Andy Gruenebaum and Eric Kronberg, Kansas City's pair of starting keepers for the 2014 season, have both had their options declined by the team, leaving homegrown player John Kempin as the team's sole net-minder. The decision to not pick up the contract on Kronberg is especially damning, given that this was his ninth year with Kansas City but the first where he was a regular starter in net.
Gruenebaum, meanwhile, is a cheap, proven goalkeeper who stepped in ably over the years for the Columbus Crew and did so again this year for Kansas City. Likely to be a sought after commodity in the Re-entry draft, Gruenebaum would be a good pick up for the Timbers, who have sometimes struggled with their second string keepers.
Kansas City have also declined the option on a familiar face in Portland: Sal Zizzo. The speedy winger did not lock down a starting spot for Kansas City, although he was a regular contributor for them, making nineteen appearances in 2014. With the Timbers potentially in need of a wide attacking sub, given Zakuani's retirement and the calls for Kalif Alhassan to be shown the door, Zizzo could be a safe, cheap option for the Timbers.
Who would you like the Timbers to pick up from the out of contract players announced today?