Well, it's finally official. After that late Friday tweet from FC Dallas, and after Schellas Hyndman came out and quite openly talked about Hassli coming to Dallas, though he just about remembered to keep it all in the hypothetical sense by squeezing out a "We're hoping that it all does come true,", whatever details needed to be ironed out have been and it was officially announced today. First up we had Dallas' twitter again, saying the following
Then the press release was finally put out, Eric Hassli has
been sent to rot in the heat been traded to FC Dallas, with TFC getting back.....a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft. Whooo! That seems odd as Dallas only has 1 second round pick, so let's hope the condition is that if he does well it gets bumped up to first, rather than if he doesn't do well it gets bumped down to a supplemental pick.
It needed to be done, the cap space opened up will allow for more players to be brought in and help build a better squad. TFC aren't good enough to be having 3 DP's taking up so much room in the budget, luxuries like that can help make a good team better but they really aren't the best way to start building a squad, which is sadly where TFC is still at, 6 years into it's existence. We'll never really know just how much TFC are left paying for Hassli, and how much cap room we created with this move, but really, given how obviously desperate TFC were, a 2nd rounder (hopefully more) is probably about as good as we could have expected. It's a sad end though to an experiment that definitely had promise but in no way worked out, for club or player.
There was definitely a sense of panic to the trade that brought him to Toronto, one that exposed the lack of long term thinking there at the time. TFC had had a good month and a half, but with Danny Koevermans injured for the season, Paul Mariner obviously wasn't ready to just suck it up and play out an already lost season with what he had. The question of what to do next year with both Hassli and Koevermans on the team as DP's could be addressed later, and as for that first round pick, if things went well it would be a mid round or worse pick, well worth it. If things didn't go well, well that wouldn't be Mariner's problem any more would it. It made total sense for Mariner to do that, after all his future was on the line, a poor end to the season might mean the end of him at TFC, which is of course what happened anyway. Coaches are hired to be fired, and will quite naturally want to be winning as often and as soon as possible, having someone above all that who can have the club's long term health as their main priority, and whose job security is based on that rather than short term results is definitely a good thing.
Having said all that, I won't pretend I didn't like the trade at the time. Hassli's an exciting player, and it did come at a time when it seemed like TFC were back on track after their early season struggles under Aron Winter. Of course as we all saw, that good run under Mariner fizzled out and Hassli, mainly due to injury issues, wasn't able to have the hoped for impact. He only scored 3 goals, and TFC didn't win one game that he played in. Though he did improve the team when he played, bringing a presence that opponents had to respect, he wasn't able to do enough and we often saw the frustrated and pouty side of him as well.
He seemed to have a good relationship with Mariner, so the writing was on the wall after he was replaced by Ryan Nelsen, and family concerns came into it as well as per the press release. In the end, that 1st round pick (which to be fair probably wasn't looking like it would be quite as high up as most would now predict) was turned into a 'conditional' pick, for the sake of half an already lost season. Not the best outcome really was it?
That we get a conditional pick at all is down to the other controversial aspect of his time here, the last action of the Mariner/Cochrane dream team before Kevin Payne came on board. They of course picked up his option year mere days before Payne's arrival, rather than decline it which would have seen him leave the club with no compensation coming back at all. 'Conditional 2nd round pick' is better than nothing right? Well done Earl and Paul?
Well, yes and no depending on a couple of things, one we won't know until the SuperDraft comes around, the other we'll probably never find out. First up is just what exactly TFC do end up with, will it be better than a 2nd rounder, or worse, or do we have the option of moving the pick to 2015 if we think it's not high enough, if Dallas do particularly well? Either way, it's better than nothing, but that brings us to the second unknown, just how much is this conditional pick costing TFC?
That breaks down into two areas, first up the weird world of the MLS salary cap, hopefully at the very least Dallas will be taking the full cap hit, flush with Brek Shea allocation money as they are. That's the most important part of it, how much room does this give TFC to be improving the squad, but even if the full cap hit is covered, there's another aspect as well.
I think it's very very likely that a good chunk of his actual salary, in the real world of writing cheques will be covered by MLSE. How much we'll never know, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to guess at pretty much all of the portion that the club is responsible for rather than MLS. MLSE have been free with the cash so far, you can't complain about that, but how much are they going to be willing to piss away before they start tightening the purse strings a bit? Will it affect any decision that might be made about buying out one of the 2 remaining DP contracts as has been talked about as an option to create more cap space? Will that sort of thing affect how willing they are to sign the big cheques going forward? Hopefully not, but I can't quite bring myself to join in those who more cavalierly think that as long as it's not counting towards the cap, it doesn't count at all.
Something seems to be better than nothing, but without knowing the exact amount of how much it's actually costing TFC, it's very difficult to say. Either way though, a conditional pick, 3 goals and 0 wins is a pretty poor return given the expectations when he first signed. This is another DP signing that can join Mista in the 'undeniable failure' category.