So here’s the thing. We have a quota of #JustMLSThings we need to reach every year, and 2015 was a bumper crop. It was perhaps the most bountiful harvest we’ve ever had, just a full-up fear-gourd of weird allocation situations, off-the-wall signings and the beautiful, incomparable Frank Lampard situation at NYCFC. The Loan That Never Existed.
This year has been comparably slow. No Lampards, really, although the entire Nigel de Jong situation in LA nearly got us to our yearly quota on its own. The Galaxy signed him to a small deal that would pay out DP numbers if he reached a certain games threshold and then promptly sold him to Turkey before he reached that games ceiling. But not after he bought a $4.3 million house in LA and nearly ripped off Darlington Nagbe’s foot.
That didn’t get us to our quota. But this will.
Kevin Kratz will return to Atlanta United, from which he was on loan. That’s new
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) November 2, 2016
So let’s back this up a bit.
Kevin Kratz is a 29-year-old German midfielder who came up with Bayer Leverkusen and bounced around to a couple different teams in Germany. He was in the midst of a quiet stint with 2. Bundesliga club SV Sandhausen when the Philadelphia Union said it had purchased him moments before the maw of the MLS roster freeze deadline on Sept. 15. It was a fairly unremarkable signing, considering Kratz hasn’t played regularly for a first team in four years.
Here’s the actual release, and what it said.
Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Kevin Kratz, ahead of the roster freeze deadline. The 29-year old Kratz, who came through the Bayer Leverkusen system, was a free agent, having last played for SV Sandhausen during the 2015-’16 season.
Bolded parts for emphasis.
The reported news that Kratz “returned” to Atlanta United, a place he was reportedly never at in the first place, is pretty hilarious in this context (assuming we’re not missing something on the face of it). But the fact that he’s mentioned as a free agent reflects either a miscommunication on the Union’s part – maybe they didn’t realize the terms of the deal? – or some strange post-freeze roster mechanism that allowed Kratz’s rights to be moved to Atlanta while seeing out the rest of the season in Philly for… reasons? I don’t know. There are a lot of straws here. I’m just trying to grasp one.
Kratz ultimately didn’t play a single game in Philly. So there’s that.
The very nature of expansion teams sort of defies convention. Atlanta United opens its inaugural season in early March, almost exactly four months from now. The club currently has a grand total of eight players listed on its roster, five of whom are not teenagers. They’ll pluck the refuse from other teams left unprotected in the looming expansion draft, which has a success rate of around 10-15 percent in terms of producing actual first team players.
So it follows that Atlanta United is desperately grasping at whatever players it can find. We just have no idea how this happened, logistically, because #MLSThings. Quota reached.
UPDATE: Mystery solved. Apparently Atlanta United and Philly reached a trade agreement for Kratz, which will become binding on Dec. 11 once the freeze lifts. Alrighty then!
An Atlanta United spokesperson confirmed that Kratz will join the club pending a binding trade agreement that can’t be ratified until 12/11
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) November 2, 2016