According to a report by Tom Marshall on MLSsoccer.com, Benji Joya is close to agreeing a deal that would see the US U-20 midfielder make the move from Santos Laguna to MLS. Once the deal between the player and the league is completed club's in MLS will have to decide if they are interested in the 20-year-old midfielder.
The report indicates that clubs will have until Monday evening to decide if they want to enter the weighted lottery for the player and as soon as someone enters the lottery it will meet the condition on the deal with the league. If no team expresses interest in Joya then the deal will not be completed and he would likely stay in Mexico.
The initial deal for Joya would be a loan from Santos Laguna to MLS but it would include the option to purchase the player following that first season. The player has made 4 appearances for Santos Laguna in Liga Mex so he could be a very good pickup for a team in MLS.
Joya has done just about everything at the youth level but has yet to make his break through at the senior level. He was a key fixture in Tab Ramos' U-20 World Cup squad earlier this year making two appearances in the group stage but picking up two yellow cards along the way meant he missed the group finale. He also won Mexico's U-20 Apertura with Santos in 2013 along with fellow US youth international Daniel Cuevas.
Since winning that title the pair have been heavily linked to a move away from Santos to a club where they could get more first team opportunities. Cuevas, despite interest from MLS, wound up heading to Lobos BUAP on a year long loan. Now it looks like Joya will be doing something similar but heading to MLS instead.
It is a safe bet that a number of teams in MLS will be interested in Joya's services. An earlier report from MLSsoccer suggested that the Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes, and Chivas USA had all expressed interest in the midfielder.
The question is will Toronto FC be among the teams interested in securing Joya's rights. If TFC do enter the lottery the worst case scenario would be that they would have the third best odds of winning. A pair of clubs, San Jose and FC Dallas, are not eligible to enter the lottery as they have already won lotteries for Billy Schuler and Colbi Span respectively. TFC elected not to enter either of those lotteries but this time around it could be different.
TFC are not in need of another midfielder but a young talent like Joya might just be too good for the team to pass up on. It is hard to imagine that a better player will come through weighted allocation this season so it does not make sense for TFC to hold on to their chances for a later date.
In 2013, TFC had the best odds of landing a player through weighted lottery and they made the most of that by grabbing Gale Agbossoumonde.
For those not familiar with how weighted lotteries work the following is from the MLS rule book:
Some players shall be assigned to MLS teams via the weighted Lottery process. Any team assigned a player through the lottery in any particular season shall not be assigned another lottery player that season unless and until all teams have received a lottery player or have agreed to waive their option to participate in a Lottery. The players made available through lotteries include:
(i) Generation adidas players signed after the MLS SuperDraft;
(ii) Draft eligible players to whom an MLS contract was offered but who failed to sign with the League prior to the Draft.
The weighted lottery takes into consideration each team's performance over its last 34 regular season games and the most recent postseason. The team with the worst record over its last 34 regular season games (dating back to previous season if necessary and taking playoff performance into account) will have the greatest probability of winning the lottery. Teams are not required to participate in a lottery. Players are assigned via the lottery system in order to prevent a player from potentially influencing his destination club with a strategic holdout.
With that in mind, do you think TFC should throw their hat into the ring to try and land Joya?