The MLS transfer window closes tonight at 11 p.m.. Exciting, right?
Well, maybe. Real Salt Lake has signed one player on loan — Pedro Baez, a young forward — although he’s yet to make it here; at last reckoning, he was awaiting a visa.
And, of course, Craig Waibel has repeatedly said that he’s still looking to bring players in, but frankly, it’s worth wondering what’s come of that.
The important thing to note up front is that tonight’s deadline is only for players for whom Real Salt Lake would have to request the International Transfer Certificate (ITC) of a player under contract in another country.
But for a player who isn’t under contract, things are a bit different. The club has until September 15 to finalize their roster, and they certainly could bring in a player like that.
Burrito Martinez, for example, is one such player — he was signed on Aug. 15, 2015, and he had been released by Boca Juniors. Now, there was some controversy around the club releasing his transfer certificate despite his not being under contract, but things like that are not all too uncommon in other leagues.
Thankfully, MLS tends to be more on-the-level than that, but that’s probably not a certainty, either.
But this should be an illustrative event. It remains extremely unlikely that RSL has the necessary resources in terms of salary cap to bring in a player that requires a transfer fee of any substance. We may — and should, in a prescriptive sense — have the resources to bring in somebody during this longer window on a free transfer.
Don’t expect someone of the caliber of Martinez, though — at least not with the same pedigree. He was brought in as a designated player, and there’s currently no way for Real Salt Lake to do that without substantial movement to bring players down below that salary point.
Of course, that’s contingent on Joao Plata’s salary impact still being substantially greater than the designated player breakpoint. He, Yura Movsisyan, and Martinez are the team’s designated players, and there’s likely no chance we’re going to be able to buy down the contract of Movsisyan. We put a substantial investment into his acquisition on loan, and even if his salary numbers seem low (and it’s worth considering they’re often considered wildly inaccurate), that amount takes him well over the limit.
It’s also worth remembering that during the Martinez transfer saga, Real Salt Lake traded away Alvaro Saborio to open up cap space and a designated player position. Without that happening again, it seems unlikely.
In a roundabout sort of way, though, this is instructive. We know that Real Salt Lake should be able to bring in a player — Craig Waibel has said as much explicitly — and we know that they’ve talked openly and actively about wanting to do.
The rest? We’ll just have to wait and see — but let last year be a guide.