D.C. United selected former Houston Dynamo forward Joseph Ngwenya in the first round the MLS Re-entry draft this afternoon. Only one other MLS club made a selection and that was the Columbus Crew selecting former Sporting Kansas City defender Aaron Holhbein. Every other team in MLS passed on their first-round opportunity.
While 14 of 16 teams passed on picking players in this first of three staged rounds, it was widely known that most, if not all teams would have passed on players in the first round of the draft because of the stipulations attached to those players available.
In a nutshell, United and the Crew will have to pay their selections their full 2010 salaries plus a 5% raise. For United, that means they can sign Ngwenya for a mere $78, 750 for next season (or for as long as the contract). Considering United’s criminal lack of pace and goal scoring, Ngwenya helps mightily in both categories. While Ngwenya will never be compared to MLS’ top goal scorers, he’s done some damage in his days in MLS and particularly against the Black-and-Red.
With the first round over, United is up again in the top spot for the second round and this is really where all the fun begins. United can covet any number of MLS iconic players such as Guillermo Barros Schelloto, Juan Pablo Angel or Jimmy Conrad for a fraction of what their contracts were last season. Now, getting those players to sign for such a pay cut is the real trick.
What is United’s next move? They obviously need help all over the field but my gut instinct tells me they will either select a veteran defender (Conrad) or a goal-scorer (Angel) in the next phase that takes place next Wednesday the 15th. Regardless of the salary cap implications, United is in good position to strengthen their team considerably (as compared to last season) before they even have to deal with the SuperDraft in January or the International Transfer Window that opens next month as well.