Real Monarchs put pen to paper on three deals this week, and each of them offers something interesting about the future of MLS, USL and Real Monarchs.
Nick Besler, the early draft pick, joins having not truly made it at an MLS club. Sebastian Velasquez, the former MLS player, joins with experience and opportunity. Charles Boateng, the Ghanaian loan, shows positive signs for young international development.
Nick Besler, fifth draft pick in 2015?
There’s an issue in MLS. High draft picks are basically a roll of the dice, and this applies just as much to Nick Besler as it does to, say, Nik Besagno — our first-choice draft pick in our debut year, 2005.
It’s hard to say why this happens, but the issue is that these highly rated players either don’t really make it, or they aren’t given the opportunity to play for the first-team. Sure, there’s a lot dependent on the player here, too, but when a player is making 25 appearances for your B-team — and he’s a first-teamer — he may deserve a chance in MLS at some point.
This is doubly true when not every game in MLS matters, which is probably a little controversial, but even top teams lose more than a handful of matches every year. In 2016, the top teams in each conference lost eight or nine matches, respectively — if that’s not an argument for just occasionally giving young players opportunities, I don’t know what is. It certainly wouldn’t end up worse, right?
Surely there’s a solution here that’s agreeable to all parties. If USL can’t get these highly rated players even an opportunity on the pitch in an MLS match, do we have a player identification problem in MLS? A player development problem? RSL is certainly not exempt here.
Sebastian Velasquez could be a veteran presence
This isn’t something I expected to be saying this time of year, but the 25-year-old midfielder who got his professional start at Real Salt Lake has now rounded out a fascinating half-circle to end up back here.
Velasquez joins with 50 MLS appearances under his belt, which is nothing to sniff at for a young player. He also joins having been a first-choice player at another side, potentially-former NASL club Rayo OKC. Now, if he was joining Real Salt Lake, I would hardly think he’d be a veteran presence, but for Real Monarchs? That’s a good amount of experience. He’s been an MLS player, and he can help young players start to understand what that might take — even if he isn’t a definitive source.
This is an excellent example of a player taking an opportunity to revamp his career, and if Velasquez can do that while offering a unique perspective to younger members of the Real Monarchs squad, we’ll be better for it.
Charles Boateng represents a new area of development
Real Monarchs taking in a young Ghanaian player — Charles Boateng — on loan doesn’t seem on its face like it would be a big move, but there’s something really exciting about this move. It’s not because Boateng shares a last name with some other good players — far from it. It’s because we’re giving a young, foreign player an opportunity in a new country and a new league, and we’re doing it without forcing him to put his career at risk.
Too often, young, talented players are transferred all over the world, and too often, those players aren’t prepared for the situation they enter, and sometimes, they’ve been given no chance to prepare.
By bringing Boateng in on loan, we’re giving him that opportunity — and, of course, we’re giving ourselves one — but we’ve mitigated the risk to the player if something doesn’t work out for him. We’re mitigating the chance that he could end up stranded. That’s important, and I hope it continues to be the case with young players from other countries that are involved at an academy.
Could Boateng be great? Maybe! I guess we’ll find out, right? Right.