As the off-season really kicks off (with the waiver draft today, I suppose we can say that in earnest), it might be prudent to take a look back at some of the players who started the season with us and have since been shuttled off.
The Japanese right back showed some interesting things while he was here: He was a proficient attacking option at times, but he also seemed to just bomb forward at will. It's exciting to see, no doubt, but he presented plenty of problems in the spot.
The biggest problem, though, was undoubtedly the hindered communication along the back line. It wasn't exactly helped by the language barrier - his English was young and inefficient, and his Spanish was coming along, helped by Javier Morales and crew - but, like most heavily attacking full backs, there was always a sense that he wasn't bedded into the system well.
Given, too, that Tony Beltran stepped up into a consistent starting role, minutes were limited for Tanaka, and as he took up an international roster slot, the cards certainly weren't in his favor. He needed time we just couldn't provide - the story of every player departed in 2012.
It doesn't seem the player has yet found a club in Japan (or elsewhere) at which to ply his trade. Given the J. League season runs basically concurrent to the MLS season, he may have to wait until the new year.
It's interesting how much movement there was in the defensive half of the field. Leone Cruz was but a small part of that, finding himself unable to secure even cursory minutes after taking to injury early on in the season.
We waited some time to get the player, with his rights secured by Seattle last season, and picked him up after trading draft pick Andy Rose to the Sounders. Rose took up an international slot and was perhaps not the best fit for our roster, but seeing his success in 2012 stings - just a bit, at least.
Leone Cruz would perhaps have been a fine fifth-choice center back, had we the spot available, but when we waived him, we picked up Kenny Mansally and then Kwame Watson-Siriboe a week later. Hard to complain, really.
Diogo de Almeida
Fancy that - another defender come and gone. The young full back never seemed entirely comfortable, suffering from a lack of defensive awareness that you really do need as a full back. He was starting to come along, with Nat Borchers especially taking extra time with the player in training sessions, but he was released when we picked up the potentially better option of Chris Estridge.
Yes, yes. Another defender. Brought in for Mr. de Almeida, Chris Estridge was a young, promising full back selected early in the draft by Vancouver Whitecaps, but he failed to make the cut. We took a chance on the man, but we released him when we signed Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally. Funny how that happens.
Here's the one that really kind of stabbed at the heartstrings a bit. Cody Arnoux had been at the club for about a year and a half, and there was always a sense that he had a lot of promise underneath his injured exterior. Once he finally came into fitness in late 2011, he simply wasn't ready, and the long, long layoff hadn't been kind to him.
But coming into 2012, he lost the extra weight he'd gained during the absence, looked fit, and despite still having a few injury troubles, was closer than ever to making the first team.
When you're out that long, you need minutes to really regain your fitness and ability. We couldn't offer him that - not in a season with so much at stake. He, like so many others, was perhaps a victim of a lack of a genuine reserve league. He banged in a USL goal or two at Wilmington Hammerheads, and with time, he might fulfill at least a fraction of his promise.