The MLS summer transfer window is history and one of the busiest men in the Orlando City SC organization over the month of July and into August was General Manager Paul McDonough. Many fans have no idea how much time goes into phone calls, research, and negotiations.
The only tangible benchmarks fans have from any transfer window are the moves the team made, the transfers that other clubs brought in, and the players that didn't arrive but were rumored about in the media for weeks.
It's easy to see a Didier Drogba, Andrea Pirlo or a Gio Dos Santos arrive in MLS and become upset that your team didn't land a big name player. What's less apparent is what went into the thought processes and what happened in negotiations behind the scenes.
Before Saturday's match against Philadelphia Union, I sat down with McDonough for a one-on-one chat to discuss what his transfer window was like and what thought processes went into some of the moves that did and didn't get made.
Did you accomplish everything you wanted to get done during the summer transfer window?
Paul McDonough: "We're happy with it. We added depth to the squad. We brought a couple of guys in who we think will be impactful players. We were able to move some salary cap to protect us for the future, so that gives us some flexibility going forward. So, overall we're happy with it."
Did Cyle Larin's recent run of form affect how you approached the striker position?
PM: "No, we were looking to reinforce the striker position. We actively pursued multiple guys through the course of the window. We talked about a lot of guys and just to bring a guy in for the last 13 games of the season and playoffs, we might regret it afterwards. If you're going to go tie a guy up into an 18-month contract, which a lot of it was discussed like that, I felt as though it may have helped us in the short-term but we would probably have regretted it in December and it would have limited what we could do."
Was this window used more for setting up for the off-season transfer window?
PM: "No. Look, I think it's always about trying to balance the now and the future. We were really happy with Earl (Edwards Jr.), so moving (Donovan Ricketts) allowed us to get rid of the salary cap. He could go to LA, where he wanted to go, so it got a good piece of salary cap off the cap for us. It got us a second-round draft pick, which the salary cap was more important for me.
"With the Amobi move it allowed us to free up a significant amount of money over multiple years and brought Servando (Carrasco) in, that maybe fits a little bit more in the playing style for Adrian. Mateos - we wanted a center back. His pedigree was very good, so that was more a (move for) now and the future. Winter was the same.
"Corey Ashe is in the last year of his deal. He was searching for playing time. He had a good pedigree. So, going and getting him, with the injuries we've had on the left-hand side, gives us a lot of depth and flexibility. We'll revisit with him and his agent at the end of the season, depending on how he goes. If he likes it and wants to stay and things like that we'll reevaluate him. So it wasn't certainly one thing (or the other) - we didn't give up on the season to plan for the future. I think Servando and Corey have come in and helped us over the last two games. They were both really influential in the Columbus win, so we're happy with it. We just weren't going to go crazy and mortgage the future though."
Did the release of Sean St. Ledger and Martin Paterson affect how you approached the window?
PM: "When we brought in (center back David) Mateos we always had planned that Ledge would be here and we would go with four center backs. We'd have good depth there. We could get Conor (Donovan) and Tommy (Redding) out on loan. Some things happened that we didn't expect and we were forced to make a move.
"We waited all year, kind of, for Pato and he just really continued to struggle with the injury and it's just something that he couldn't do anymore. He's having a baby back at home and he just said, you know, ‘I want to go home.' It certainly wasn't the way we drew it up going into the window. But, the easy thing was, you could panic and you could go spend a ton of money to try to get a guy. But we talked about it and it just didn't seem to be the right thing to do if we weren't 100% convinced it was the right guy."
How close was the club to landing Chicharito Hernandez?
PM: "There were discussions. It just didn't work out for whatever reason. The club had authorized us to go and try to get it done. We did try. He's back at Man U right now and this is the last year of his deal, so we'll continue to monitor that and see how it goes. We looked at some other guys, too, and the finances in some of the places where these guys went were just so far out of reach it was ridiculous for us to compete with."
Does Orlando City own Chicharito's MLS discovery rights or would his signing require another move?
PM: "We have his discovery rights and we will forever."
How close was the club to making the deal for Paulo Henrique Ganso?
PM: "I think we were hopeful, but it's just kind of one of those things. Two clubs, when you get into negotiations, there's always different values on players. I think we thought as though we put in a very fair offer for his services. He wanted to come. But it takes two parties to get something done when a player is owned by another club. It just didn't work out."
When is his contract with them up?
PM: "I don't know if he's got one more or two more (years)."
Can you tell us about the thought that went into the Adam Bedell move, aside from getting cheaper and younger?
PM: "I know the question out there is about Jack (McInerney). It was economics. From our experience with Adam, and knowing some people, there's a bit of interest in him in Scandinavia. So he'll probably go out after the season and we'll send him over to Scandinavia and see how he does. When Adrian (Heath) and I were talking, we thought it would be good to, at some stage (get Bedell) -- we thought it would be next year, but it presented itself so I moved on it.
"We were looking for something a little bit different in the striker corps, like an Alan Gordon or a Steven Lenhart -- someone that posed different problems for a team. We were looking for someone a little bit bigger. Cyle's a very athletic guy and he can run behind, but Adam's got good feet. We saw him at the Disney Classic last year and he caused our backs real problems. He caused us some problems in the U.S. Open Cup too. It's just something that presented itself. The second-round pick for me -- we have a lot of young guys. I don't think I'll do better with a second-round pick than the youngsters we have with Harrison and Tyler, Tommy. All of those guys for me are first-round picks and we're just bringing them along. So the second-round pick didn't matter too much, it was more a throw-away (to get Bedell) for me."
Obviously people will see that Jack McInerney and Adam Bedell both were moved for a second-round pick. Were there discussions for McInerney?
PM: "We discussed Jack, but he's in the last year of his deal. His salary cap number was 300 grand. I spoke to his agent. To go and invest 300 grand at this stage of the season for 10-11 games -- I don't know if it was a big enough run for us and the opportunity to re-sign him I think would be very difficult."
When you spoke with Kansas City recently, was there any discussion about trading for the rights to Herculez Gomez?
Were there any deals that were on the table that were close but just couldn't quite finish with an agreement?
PM: "I think if we could have got one of the DPs that we really wanted, I think would have been...great! (Laughs) Because none of this other stuff probably would have changed. We would have still made the moves for a lot of the guys. The DP was something that we wanted to try to do but we weren't going to go and do something that we just didn't believe (in). It's better to wait, hold your money and make a run at another significant DP in January."
How well positioned is the team for the final stretch of 2015 and the off-season window?
PM: "I think when we get (Carlos) Rivas back, Rafa (Ramos) back...we're deep and we're talented. So we just have to bite down and bear it for another couple of weeks. When we get everyone back, we'll go. But we are really well positioned to make a significant move if it presents itself."