UPDATE: It looks very much like Clint is coming back in a trade.
Just talked to Clint Irwin who thinks he might be headed back to Toronto. #MLS— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_TV) December 13, 2016
“There’ll be a couple of pre-arranged trades we did that will be announced later today” - Atlanta United president Darren Eales #TFC— Daniel Squizzato (@DanielSquizzato) December 13, 2016
Toronto FC have lost Clint Irwin to Atlanta United in the MLS Expansion Draft. There might be more than meets the eye at play here.
It’s a surprising pick, because Atlanta have been strongly linked with a deal to sign U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who is currently sitting on the bench at Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
A further twist then emerged when Atlanta selected another goalkeeper, Sporting KC’s Alec Kann, with their fifth and final selection.
Something is going to have to give. Perhaps Guzan is not coming, in which case Irwin-Kann could make a decent one-two.
More likely, however, seems to be the possibility of Atlanta trading either Irwin or Kann back to their former teams for a free asset.
Of the two, Irwin is the more likely candidate for a trade in that scenario as an established MLS starter, meaning he would a) command more value from Toronto and b) be less happy about a situation in which he is likely to sit on the bench for much of the season.
There was also a sense with the Irwin pick that Atlanta might be making things more difficult for Minnesota United in the draft by taking a team like Toronto, who had a few desirable players available, off the board.
The good news is that the Reds have retained Steven Beitashour, Tosaint Ricketts and everyone else. If Irwin is gone for good, a big opportunity for Alex Bono just opened up in 2017.