Macoumba Kandji is a Rapids Hero that will live in the hearts of Rapids fans forever. Here’s a video about that moment and I think Gary Smith sums it up nicely – he’ll be a part of Rapids folklore always.
Another unpopular move in the off season that has rocked Rapids fans, is putting some pressure on the performance for 2012. The deal sees the Rapids get at worst the Dynamo’s third-round pick in 2014. That deal improves to a second round pick with a set appearances condition and possibly even a first round pick if he resigns with Houston.
There are two prevailing sentiments on this move. First, people are upset that the Rapids have parted ways with a player that lives deeply in the hearts of Colorado fans. There’s no doubt it’s a tough one to swallow. Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo needed to shed some salary to bring in a 22 year old Argentine player who is slotted to be a “true #10″. The fans still feeling upset at losing Gary Smith certainly feel like this is another kick in gut.
For those in this camp, it certainly increases the pressure for Oscar to have at minimum a season mirroring 2011. It also adds pressure to see this new player come out and contribute solidly to the first team. I’m unsure about the experience of this twenty two year old, but that certainly seems like a tall order considering how often it takes a player unfamiliar with the thuglife ways of MLS to adjust.
The second feeling is, how can we only get a third round pick for our hero!? Well, if Mac does indeed turn the corner in his career in Houston, the Rapids will get a first rounder which isn’t too bad considering the Rapids made the move primarily to free up cap space. But let’s look at this from Houston perspective. He’s not a hero to Houston nor is there an emotional attachment to this deal so looking at it from the Dynamo point of view can make things a bit more objective.
Right off, there’s a risk Macoumba may never fully regain the level of soccer he was at when he tore his ACL. Those knees are tricky and these race horses we call soccer players play at such a high level that losing just a slight bit of physical capability can hold them back from greatness. Sadly it’s something we see far too often. That risk is a bit compounded by his high (by MLS standards) salary of $148,000 (as of 9/2011).
Then there his actual performances. There’s no doubt Kandji could become a force in this league. He takes players on one v one and has the size/speed combo coaches dream of! But at 26 years old, the time for that potential aspect is running out. It’s probably surprising to many Rapids fans that Kandji has actually only scored six goals in his MLS career (plus causing one very VERY important own goal single handed!). His strike rate is one goal every six games. That’s just not good enough to hold your place in MLS, so the Dynamo are taking another risk there. He’s not a lock to be a starter in Houston – he wasn’t even a starter in Colorado because of our dynamic duo.
But Houston does need some strike power and Mac still has the ability to turn the corner into a striker to be feared in MLS. The Rapids don’t want players, they are shedding salary so they can’t offer anyone in return. If Kandji doesn’t improve or doesn’t come back with a solid recovery from the ACL injury, they certainly don’t want to gamble too much.
The deal was well structured for both teams. If Kandji really doesn’t come back strong enough, Houston only loses a third rounder which is pretty useless anyway. However, if he’s a contributor, they will have to give up a second round pick. But here’s the key, if he does indeed become the player we all hoped he’d become, he’ll get another deal in Houston and will be worth a first round pick.
It really boils down to the player the Rapids are bringing in. If he becomes an important Burgundy Boy, the deal will look okay in hind sight. For those still dealing with all the changes associated with Pareja taking over, losing an MLS Cup hero may never be worth it.
We wish you the best Mac. We’ll never forget and when that last game of the season rolls around – we’ll be sure to give you a standing O.