Let me start off by saying I’ve never been traded. I was expansion-drafted by Portland, which is an entirely different story, but I’ve been almost traded a half dozen times that I know about. Many of my teammates, however, have fallen victim to trades over the years.
As a player your primary thoughts and objectives center on getting first team minutes so you can help your team win games. But because rosters can have up to 30 players and only 11-14 play each week, sometimes trades can be a way to find a place where you are more wanted and can get more first team minutes. The process of getting traded, however, can be difficult to deal with.
As a player two feelings come to mind when trade rumors swirl:
- First is the feeling that your current team has lost the love. It’s like having a girlfriend break up with you and immediately choose someone else to replace you. Feelings typically get hurt and the business of soccer can be taken quite personally, at times. All you need to see is the frequency with which former players score on their previous teams to understand what I’m talking about. It’s like showing up your old girlfriend, saying, “See what you missed out on?”
- Second is that with this particular breakup, you immediately start a new relationship with a team, organization and city that brings back the love. And the quicker you can get over the old breakup and start building the new one, the better.
I can honestly tell you I hated the idea of being traded and it could have cost me my career.
Let me explain.
Last season I was injured for most of the first half of the season and upon my recovery and progression midway through the year, I walked into the coach’s office and said, “I am ready to play and deserve to be on the pitch helping the team.” However, unbeknownst to me, in my time away from the first team, the organization had made other plans and our coach informed me I would likely NEVER play again with the first team. He told me I could stick it out for the year or try to get traded elsewhere. I should have immediately set my pride aside and just figured out a way to get traded.
I didn’t. My pride wouldn’t let me.
Instead I decided I’d stick it out and tried to prove him wrong and earn my way back into the good graces of the organization. After months of good practices and reserve games, I began to see that they were serious in their position and with only weeks remaining in the trade window, I started actively pursuing a trade to another team. My efforts were too little too late as most teams had already made their personnel moves.
I know trades weigh heavily on players’ minds. It was a huge factor my last two seasons in MLS. In fact I can’t help but think what could have been if I had pushed for a trade or tried to go elsewhere where there was more demand for my services. Ironically, the Houston Dynamo were a team that repeatedly inquired about me over the years and I can’t help but think how things could have been different if I had been traded there and became part of that postseason powerhouse.
But sometimes trades happen and other times they don’t. You can see some coming and other times you can be blindsided. I know Troy Perkins didn’t see his trade from Portland to Montreal coming and was none too pleased about it. But trades are as much a part of playing pro sports as collecting your paycheck. Credit goes to Troy for handling it like a true professional because there are times when an organization will let you know there is interest from other clubs and times when they don’t. They can allow you to leave or push you out the door.
And those trades can affect how you live your life. Do you buy that condo or sign that new lease? Do you move your family? Are you going to stay 5 years or 5 months? It’s a game of constant worry and a tough one to play when you are a pro athlete not making millions of dollars. So do we worry about trades, yes we do. But worrying got me nowhere. All I tried to focus on was playing so at the end of the day, I had no regrets about the professional I was and the product I was providing to the team. The rest was out of my control.