Expansion Draft analysis
Bradley and Thorrington ace expansion day for LAFC
December 13, 2017
On Wednesday, as Sporting Director and Head Coach of LAFC, the two masterfully navigated this year’s Expansion Draft, selecting five quality players, then flipping two of them to Montreal for Belgian international and MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman. According to a report from Metro, however, MLS’ newest club was on the verge of acquiring two-time defending MLS assist leader Sacha Kljestan from the Red Bulls.
Going into the draft, there was speculation that that LAFC would select players to be used at tradable assets, and by Tuesday’s end, that speculation proved to be true. The one-time USMNT manager put together a powerful center back duo with Walker Zimmerman, acquired on Sunday from FC Dallas, and Laurent Ciman from Montreal today in exchange for two Expansion Draft picks; Toronto’s Raheem Edwards and the Crew’s Jukka Raitala.
"We felt there was a real opportunity today to nail down our central defense,” said Bradley, who’s been a consistent believer in the adage that defense wins championships.
The 6’3” Zimmerman and the 6’0” Ciman will combine to provide one of the most-effective centerback pairings in the league.
Ciman would later turn heads when he made several retweets from the trade. Most of the retweets were very negative on the deal including one from a Montreal-based Sports Marketing Executive who said (in French):
INCROYABLE! L' @impactmontreal vient de faire la pire erreur de son histoire! Échanger un individu et compétiteur comme @LaurentCiman23 !!! Il est venu en #MLS pour les soins de sa fille,s'est intégré à notre société et bâtit une maison ici!! #ShameOnYou #IMFC @NTLSPORTS— LP LeBlanc-Boucher (@LeBlancBoucher) December 12, 2017
In French that translates to "UNBELIEVABLE! The @impactmontreal just made the worst mistake in its history! Exchange an individual and competitor like @ LaurentCiman23 !!! He came in #MLS for the care of his daughter, integrated into our society and build a house here !! #ShameOnYou #IMFC"
It is easy to understand why Ciman was upset. He moved to Montreal primarily because Canada offered better care for his autistic daughter. Now he was on the move to a different team with little say in the matter.
Bradley noted Ciman’s quality, saying “Laurent is a top defender who provides leadership and great distribution. His experience in the league and with the Belgian National Team will be invaluable as we build our club.”
The rumor of Southern California native Kljestan moving back to LA came late in the day. Kljestan is a known quantity in MLS, and played for Bradley when the pair were both at Chivas USA, the franchise that’s morphed into LAFC. Acquiring Kljestan would make the new LA club an instant contender to reach the playoffs in MLS’s weak Western Conference. New York’s current captain would be charged with feeding Mexican international DP Carlos Vela, who’s scored over seventy goals for Real Sociedad since 2011.
With LAFC’s other Expansion Draft selections, the club plucked young 6’4 goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who posted his alma mater’s Northwestern’s all-time clean sheet mark; Costa Rican qualifying hero Marco Urena from the Quakes, and forward Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, who outjumped much taller Red Bulls defenders to open the scoring in the 2017 US Open Cup final.
Whether Miller, Urena, or Blessing make LAFC’s Opening Day roster, or are simply bargaining chips for future trades, the quality players could all make a significant contribution when MLS play this March.