In the first training session since the New York Red Bulls let Lloyd Sam go to D.C. United, head coach Jesse Marsch inevitably faced questions about the decision to offload a player who was considered one of the first team's core starters as recently as last month.
Sam is a popular player, and Marsch said the sort of nice things that a long-term (four seasons counts as long term on a team whose longest-tenured player - Dax McCarty - joined the squad in 2011) and successful servant of the club deserves. And then he addressed the obvious next question: what's next?
Kristian Dyer reports for Big Apple Soccer that the head coach stated the trade was not "for a player move, right now."
Say what? Sam was traded for general allocation money (GAM) and a share of any future transfer fee (don't hold your breath - he is 32 this year and more likely to leave MLS on a free transfer, if and when he leaves). Ives Galarcep reported for Goal.com that RBNY received $150,000 in GAM from DCU.
"Let me make that clear," Marsch told BAS, proceeding to make nothing clear. Per Marsch, there is "potential for some player moves in this transfer window" and there is "potential for guys that are here to step up." Also, there is now "flexibility" for "the roster" and "for future moves."
That pretty much covers every base.
Here is the list of things the MLS Roster Rules and Roster Regulations say GAM can be used for:
RBNY plans to do...any one of things it can do with its newly acquired GAM.
In short, the club isn't tipping its hand.
Marsch's comments sound a lot like what you'd expect from a coach who has to keep his current players focused and motivated - if he said Sam had been flipped out for a new signing, it wouldn't be the most encouraging news for those already on the roster who think they now have one less rival for a start. They also sound a lot like what a club might say if it was still quietly shopping around for a new acquisition, but didn't want agents thinking they could use knowledge of recently acquired funds in their negotiations (they will anyway, but no need to encourage them).
Or take Marsch at his word: the Red Bulls agonized long and hard over the decision to trade Sam and took the best deal they could get for him despite the fact it meant handing a recently off-form starter to a rival because they had an urgent need to do...something...maybe now, maybe later.