Marco Pappa, Allocation order, and Toronto FC

Ned Dishman

Toronto FC currently sit second in the allocation ranking which is significant as MLS just announced that Marco Pappa will be returning to the league via that mechanism.

Macro Pappa is coming back to MLS.  The winger who was sold to SC Heerenveeen by the Chicago Fire back in 2012 has agreed a deal with the league and will go through the allocation order at the end of the week.  This news is relevant to Toronto FC since they are currently second in the allocation order behind only the Seattle Sounders.

Toronto started the season behind D.C. United and Chivas USA in the order but both of those team's traded their spot allowing the Philadelphia Union and the Sounders to move to the top of the list.  The Union used their top spot to bring Maurice Edu back to the league last week moving TFC up to second place.

For those not familiar with the unique rules of MLS the following is how the allocation order is described in the 2013 version of the rules:

(A) ALLOCATION RANKING

The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee. The allocation rankings may also be used in the event two or more clubs file a request for the same player on the same day when the discovery period opens in December. The allocations will be ranked in reverse order of finish for the 2012 season, taking playoff performance into account.

Once the club uses its allocation ranking to acquire a player, it drops to the bottom of the list. A ranking can be traded, provided that part of the compensation received in return is the other club's ranking. At all times, each club is assigned one ranking. The rankings reset at the end of each MLS League season.

Since the Chicago Fire received a transfer fee for Pappa back in 2012 he falls into the second category of players that are eligible for this mechanism.  Now that Pappa has agreed to a deal with the league he will go through the allocation order and teams will have until Friday at 4 PM Eastern to decide if they want to select him.

There has been some interest in Pappa in recent weeks as the Guatemalan winger was a consistent threat during his previous stint in the league.  The most vocal interest came from his former club, the Chicago Fire, but they would almost certainly have to make a trade to move up the ranking if they are serious about acquiring Pappa since they are currently seventh in line.

The Sounders were also reported to have an interest in Pappa but they may have a different plan for their top spot in the allocation ranking.  The Sounders seem to be interested in bringing back Eric Friberg, who would also go through allocation, which could mean them passing on Pappa to save their top spot for the Swedish midfielder.  As Sounder at Heart suggest they will have to make a decision before Friday but should they chose to focus on Friberg they could face competition for his signature from the likes of Bologna.

If the Sounders do decide to pass it would give TFC the chance to claim Pappa but even with his impressive numbers in his previous MLS stay it is hard to see where he would fit.  The midfield is already fairly well stocked and even though Pappa would bring a lot of quality on the wing he will likely command a salary in the $300k range which may be a bit rich for TFC at this point in time.

Should TFC determine that taking Pappa does not fit with their plans there are other options.  First, they could trade their spot in the allocation order to a team that is interested in taking Pappa.  Second, they could take Pappa and then trade him to an interested team.  Third, they could just pass and let the teams below them in the order fight for Pappa while saving their positioning for another player down the road.

If TFC decide to go the trade route the most likely partner would seem to be the Fire since they player has expressed his desire to return to Chicago.  If the Fire are looking to move up for Pappa they might be willing to part with someone like Dilly Duka who would be a nice addition for a team like TFC who could use more depth on the left side of the midfield.

There is some history of Toronto FC cashing in by trading the top spot in the allocation order.  Last summer they cashed in on Chivas USA's interest in Carlos Bocanegra to get a 1st round pick in 2015 and an international roster slot in exchange for top spot in the allocation ranking.  They made a similar trade in 2012 when TFC got a conditional pick from the Sounders for the top spot which was then used on Marcus Hahnemann.  That was a lower price but TFC lost all leverage in that case with the roster freeze looming.

Considering that TFC have spent most of the past seven seasons near the top of the allocation ranking they have never really had much to show for it.  That could change this season if USMNT players continue to flock back to MLS in the coming months with TFC currently in good position to acquire talent through a wide variety of means thanks to their poor finish last season.

Should the Seattle Sounders pass on Pappa on Friday what would you like to see TFC do with their second spot in the allocation order?

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