Of Ballouchy, Of Beckerman

MLSUnderground broke the story yesterday (at least for my little corner of the world) and, in spite of the absence of "official word" (whoops, went official while I was typing), the mainsteam media reported on it today (out of Utah, the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune; from Colorado, The Denver Post (sort of; can you spell blurb?) and Rocky Mountain News).

The news: Real Salt Lake (RSL) traded midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy to the Colorado Rapids for Kyle Beckerman. Naturally, it was down to the blogs to tell us what to think about it.

Curiously, the emotions I'm seeing run from curious to happy regardless of the team they support. The Real Salt Lake Offside begins his post with a stirring, "I do not disagree with this trade." Nearly all the papers that posted more than a blurb mentioned Beckerman's stormy past with RSL's fans, so I had expected talk anticipating a tack or two on Beckerman's locker-room seat, but...nope; it's pretty polite. And the only hostility apparent on The Rapids Offside is directed at Beckerman, who Clint figures will make the worst team in MLS (that's RSL; I know; it's close) "become even worse" - go figure.

Naturally, these could be individual fan views and Beckerman, for his past sins, may yet have to endure some kind of fan-directed spanking tunnel (y'know...when a kid has to crawl through the legs of a bunch of other kids who spank him on his way through? no?). Then again, maybe not.

Turning to more neutral venues, USSoccerplayers.com's Ian Plenderleith, dubs this a good move for Real; going the other way, FC Rocky, who makes up for the Rocky Mountain News' disinterest in soccer, seems surprisingly excited about the young Ballouchy's arrival. Given all that, it's hard to say who won. Maybe they both did (though one commenter on MLS Underground's original post viewed this as both teams, essentially standing pat). Ives Galarcep did a fair job of a both glasses half-full approach on his blog; he's also got good stuff in there on both teams' needs, "The Clavijo Situation" (which is sure to depress Rapids fans), and what this means for Freddy Adu.

So after reading all that, and doing a little thinking, here's what I've got: on a player-to-player level, RSL probably did better; put another way, I rate Beckerman's overall game higher than Ballouchy's - though, I also think Ballouchy has a bigger potential upside, with the stress on the word "potential." In terms of needs met now, again, I'd go with RSL: I would love to be proved wrong here because I see hints here and there that Ballouchy can be the kind of player I like watching, but Colorado needs goal-scorers and that Ballouchy ain't that. Beckerman should help RSL with building the standard model MLS team: e.g. one that's hard to beat, which is something RSL can definitely use; in spite of a stretch of draws in May, RSL went back to losing ways thereafter.

Given all that, advantage RSL - even if it's not much of an advantage. The sad thing is, you have to wonder what someone like Ballouchy can do in the right environment - hardly an apt description for Colorado circa 2007. You have to wonder if he'll get a chance.

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