There’s no question Facundo Erpen was talented and athletic. But unfortunately as capable as he was of breathtaking brilliance, he was just as likely to pull off some shockingly stupid play. For all Erpen’s athletic abilities, he also had the propensity for maddening mental breakdowns as well. His mistakes were becoming increasingly more detrimental to the team overall, and he showed very little sign that he was putting these appalling gaffs behind him despite formation changes primarily for his benefit.
Greg Vanney on the other hand is not as athletically gifted, but is rock solid dependable and positionally impeccable. He also brings a ton of leadership and professionalism that United has needed ever since the loss of Stewart and Nelsen. Soehn as a former defender himself has clearly seen enough inconsistency from United’s backline overall and with this trade is expecting to stabilize their play as a group as much as eliminate Erpen’s occasional flights of fancy.
Vanney’s game should easily compliment his defensive partner Bobby Boswell much better than Erpen’s recklessness has. Vanney can even shoulder the organizational load for Boswell and he will always be where he is expected to be on the field unlike Erpen who was prone to launch himself forward like an unguided missile whenever the mood struck him.
From the details emerging about the deal, it also appears United’s actual salary cap hit will be exactly the same as they were paying Erpen, with Colorado and Dallas making up the rest of Vanney’s relatively hefty salary. At the end of the year, both players will be out of contract and both teams free to negotiate new terms. If true, not only is United getting a more reliable player for the same money, but they aren’t being forced to dip into their cash reserves set aside for possibly another signing in the next few weeks as the signing window ends Aug 15.
Another point is that Erpen would have been a Senior International next season which would have made it difficult to re-sign or trade him next year if Soehn had decided to give him the rest of this year to improve. In a sense this gives Erpen a better chance to stay in MLS next year assuming he can impress his new team. United would have been hard pressed to meet his likely salary demands or shop him around easily in the off season. So this way Erpen gets a whole new situation to showcase himself and maybe earn that new contract next year without the baggage he has left behind in DC.
United has now traded away the three most inconsistent performers from last year’s Supporters Shield winning side, as Alecko Eskandarian and Freddy Adu were shipped out prior to the season. All of these inconsistent yougsters were replaced by established veterans in Emilio, Fred, and now Vanney. Clearly, Soehn is looking for a more reliable set of players to make a run for the MLS Cup right now rather than banking on developing talent for the future.