Friday, February 15, 2008

Random thoughts

Billy Witz has the story on Ty Harden retiring.

Something doesn't feel right to me about this. Pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if Harden isn't taking a year off so he can then unretire and join Seattle when they come into the league in 2009. It wouldn't be the first time a player has pulled this off - in his playing days, Alexi Lalas "retired" and left the Kansas City Wizards in October of 1999 only to sign with the Galaxy in Jan 2001.

Such a move is pretty much the only way Harden could control his destiny. As a lower-rung player, he doesn't have a lot of pull to go where he'd like. Seattle would place him relatively near his hometown of Junction City, Oregon. Harden also attended the University of Washington in Seattle, and probably has many friends and perhaps even a sweetheart in the area. He might have considered it worth the risk to take a year or so off, work a local job, and then hook up with the newest MLS team.

It's ironic that the Galaxy, who are usually the beneficiaries of players wanting to be near LA, may have gotten burned by someone willing to sacrifice to be elsewhere instead.

In the scramble for a replacement, the Galaxy traded to get Greg Vanney from DC United. I think this is a poor move, because Vanney has lost more than a step. He's simply cumbersome these days, and his vast experience and good positioning isn't enough to compensate for that. Going to DC for Vanney is young Quavas Kirk.

Galaxy fans who remember Kirk's various injury problems may not consider his leaving much of a loss, but I'd remind them of how much potential Kirk showed whenever he was healthy. He is big, strong and fast, with a striker's experience when getting forward.

I just talked to Kirk on Wednesday and asked about his injury. He flashed that big grin of his and said he was "all good". It would be just the Galaxy's luck that Kirk is finally really fit and remains injury-free when he's gone.

28 comments:

laurie said...

As a Galaxy fan, a UW alum and one of Seattle's new season ticket holders, you have No Idea how much I love this particular conspiracy theory.

Thanks for making my day. The Harden news itself had me incrediblly depressed.

AC said...

I think this move does not speak well of MLS and the Galaxy.

A.C. said...

I think it's more about the realities of a Northwest native perhaps wanting to be near his family and friends. Quality of life becomes important when the salary offered by the LA Galaxy isn't very high, but frankly, Harden isn't likely to get a lot more money playing for Seattle. He might be happier there, but it's not necessarily the Galaxy's fault he might not have liked Los Angeles. A lot of people don't like it here. New Yorkers especially complain about life in LA, even though they remain here for years.

L.B. said...

I don't think Ty Harden was that good, honestly. He had his moments but overall I thought he was a liability on the backline. And I didn't really see him improving too much.

Still, you wonder why a guy like him would just walk away from the game. Hopefully the truth will come out, despite the Galaxy's efforts to try and silence it.

Beax Speax said...

Is it possible he's no longer a primary option on defense, with the new coaching staff? I'm guessing the combination of low salary + homesickness + no playing time = early retirement.

L.B. said...

Could be, but the Galaxy is so secretive about this it makes you wonder. I mean, if it was just as simple as you said - which sounds like a reasonable explanation - why would the Galaxy put up so many roadblocks when trying to get a straight answer?

A.C. said...

It's hard to say that he'd have gotten no playing time, considering he hadn't reported for preseason. Plus, it seems that the team was planning to use him in some capacity, considering the Galaxy went through such effort to replace him.

A.C. said...

The Galaxy roadblock makes trading sense to me. Without the Vanney deal complete, the Galaxy didn't want teams around the league to know how desperate they were to replace Harden. Keeping him on their books a little longer was probably a diversion, though it didn't seem to really work.

Nathanhj said...

You know, just in response to that last little crack about it being "just the Galaxy's luck", no one forced them to deal Robbie Findley, Nathan Sturgis, and Quavas Kirk, all under 23, for two guys racing towards 35.

In fact you could say keeping Sturgis last year would have obviated the need for this trade, though he's not a classic center back.

Also, let's see, we traded Albright and Jazic is injured and folks think Mike Randolph works better on the left wing rather than left back (could work, certainly Martino's lack of a left foot has been a serious liability on that side of the field).

We added Babayaro and apparently the new guy looks good on the right.

All in all I think the Galaxy's problems with player acquisition and trades continue on into the preseason. With RSL wising up, it looks like Alexi is on everyone's speed dial when they want to make a horribly lop-sided trade. (Or is it now Paul Bravo?) Good job by Payne et al.

A.C. said...

The crack wasn't that meaningful. Do I think it is a bit of bad luck if a player on the team since 2005 isn't able to play much due to injury, but finally overcomes that injury for good just when the team trades him? Sure. Three years of a productive Kirk is very different than the three years the Galaxy got from him. In no way was I saying the trade was a good move. I was pointing out the irony of some Galaxy fans maybe thinking Kirk was expendable, then perhaps watching him get healthy and play very well elsewhere.

Dave Lifton said...

I figured out that if Vanney takes a 40% pay cut, he'll be making roughly what Albright made last year ($236 down to $142K). So getting rid of Albright, who had re-signed at a lower rate, is looking like a dumber move from LA's salary cap perspective.

Anonymous said...

Andrea and Luis I cannot agree more with your comments. It seemed that Kirk spent more time in the stands with the Riot Squad than on the pitch the last two years. I think Kirk had his moments and you could see flashes of brilliance but sometimes it is a risk/benefit analysis you have to make in business or sports. I agree this caught the team off guard and they had to go with someone quickly. Vanney is experienced and is a hometown guy. As far as Harden goes, I think it really was about the money. Last year everyone joked about his second and third jobs in order to make ends meet. Los Angeles is not a cheap place to live in on a minimum MLS salary. I think he did a great job, for his experience, and he was learning everyday on the job. I was at a Galaxy event at the end of the season and congratulated him, in a lighthearted manner, on being "defender of the year" for the Galaxy. L.D. was within earshot and said something like "you said it". I took that as acknowledgement by his teammates that they believed in him or at the very least that he was getting encouragement from them. It just seems kind of sad if money was the issue.

Anonymous said...

There is indication from things I've read that he's depressed. If so, I can understand the Galaxy not divulging much info. And I can also understand a decision to retire.

I don't buy the theory that he's doing this so he can get with Seattle. The Galaxy have shown that if a player says he'd be happier somewhere else, they work the deal out to let him go where he wants. They just did that with Wolyniec (sp)a year or so ago. He was unhappy here and wanted to go back to New York and the Galaxy worked the deal.

I seem to recall another player sort of in the same boat, but I can't remember who that was, and he also was sent where he wanted to go.

If Ty really wanted to get to Seattle, the Galaxy would not have held him back, they would have worked out an amicable deal.

Matt Y said...

I like Andrea's theory. Hell..he can make mroe than 30K as a forklift driver for a year..train with the USL Sounders and play amateur soccer..then join his local MLS team.

Although...playing with Beckham is an honor and experience that one probably can't put a price on so he blows that.

Anonymous said...

Galaxy will keep Harden's MLS rights if he decides to return...which he won't. The Seattle theory is ludicrous.

A.C. said...

Yes, because Lalas himself did it, its now impossible for Harden to do the same? Why, exactly?

The Hammer said...

Screw Harden.

I like the Kirk for Vanney trade. Andrea, do you really think Vanney is coming to us as a starter? The more I look at this team the more I think we're looking at a Baba/Xavier backline with Franklin and Randolph on the flanks for speed. Especially with the positive news about Franklin. So we'd have Roberts, Scarface, and Vanney as subs. Harden would've been #4 but oh well. Lets face it though, if LA is to have any injuries to Xavier or Baba, are you really going to depend on rookies to do the job? That's what Vanney's there for. And if you don't think an old central defender can perform, go look at Suarez. Actually, go look at how Pachuca begun its revolution. Manuel Vidrio and Francisco Gabriel de Anda weren't exactly strappin young bucks. Experience in the back is huge.

Kirk might get better now, but we can't bet on a horse with a losing track record. Not at this point. He spent way too much time up in the stands, and it wasn't just one injury... it was one then another then another...

I think the move is smart and adds depth where we had none, and takes away excess players where we had too many.

I have 3 questions though:

1. Does Peter Vagenas have a contract with LA? Wasn't his contract up this season?

2. With Alvaro allegedly coming on, where does that leave "high" paid defensive mids Pete Vagenas and Kelly Gray?

A.C. said...

Worst-case scenario - Harden is really depressed and tired of soccer - a break would probably be best for him. That still doesn't mean he couldn't rediscover his love of the game at some point. Joe Franchino had personal problems last season and was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the Revs for most of the year. He later returned to play.

FC Uptown said...

This is the same guy that wanted to clean Beckham's pool right? I would think a young guy would love to hang out in the rock star glow of Beckham - pick up girls and travel the world. There must be a heavy beat-down side to the life of a young MLS player, and he must be a different type of guy and not interested in taking any more of it. I bet money isn't really the issue here - or AEG could do some things to make it easier for him.

Anonymous said...

This all brings to mind the "unhappy players" in the Galaxy lockeroom hinted at here:

http://mlsrumors.blogspot.com/2008/01/rumor-joe-cannon-requested-san-jose.html

FC Uptown said...

Cannon has his own issues - hence why he is traded frequently.

Anonymous said...

I think this speaks to how little MLS pays.

Anonymous said...

i think it's money; they guy has a college degree and he can go out and triple his salary immediately

FC Uptown said...

If it was money that motivated this kid, AEG would be able to get him to play with promises of future riches. That obviously didn't work when they tried it. He's just sick of playing pro soccer. Who would take a desk job unless they were completely burned out of the game?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I think you're all missing a very important point: The Galaxy places an inordinate amount of pressure on its players and coaches. Why do you think Yallop almost cracked up last year? You think he was used to the kind of mind games the Galaxy pulls? What about Donovan's comments about Lalas after the friendly against Hollywood United? Harden is a sensitive man (and I mean that in a favorable way) who was probably fed up with the mind games.

He might well need a year off to get his mind cleared so he can play with Seattle, if that's his goal. After last year's fiasco run by the Keystone Kops of Karson, can anybody blame him?

Nathanhj said...

A.C., didn't mean to imply that I was criticizing your choice of phrase about the "Galaxy's luck".

It was really more about the recent spate of questionable player moves. I wish Kirk well and I'm glad there is experience in the back, but I'm so not liking the group that's back there. And think about who's left in just the past two years: Albright, Marshall, Uhemelu, Harden, Sturgis, and whomever I'm forgetting. That's a starting back line (well left back would be a problem) plus a substitute.

Joe Cannon who we got for U and Herc is gone. Marshall for Buddle is still a head-scratcher and while I like Chris Klein he's either out of position as a right back or he's displaced in a 4-4-2 with Martino, Randolph, Beckham, Donovan available. While Sturgis and Findley start.

So I'm finding this to be more of the same, even if I was never impressed with an injured Kirk.

Nathanhj said...

Wait, I forgot Todd Dunivant.

So ridiculous.

I'm telling you that I'm excited for the season to start, but when I think through the personnel moves I start to question why.

Soledad said...

Hm. Some of these comments lead me to believe some/many?/all? MLS players are weenies.

Srsly, my respect for the Lakers has never been greater than this past year watching the Galaxy flail around.
-
"A lot of people don't like it here. New Yorkers especially complain about life in LA, even though they remain here for years."

Yeah those people need to shut up and leave immediately. In fact, not even bother coming here in the first place. I'm with the camp that believes California should be building a wall to the east not the south (maybe even a new & improved version of the minutemen). Our quality of life would go up so much.