One week before it opens play in the Concacaf Champions
League, LAFC, the 2019 Supporters' Shield winner with a record 72 points, traded 2019 Best XI pick Walker Zimmerman to expansion Nashville SC.
Nashville SC gets a regular on the U.S. national team who will solidify its backline for its inaugural season. Zimmerman will move close to home. He grew in neighboring Georgia, just four hours from Nashville.
"In his two seasons in Los Angeles, Walker was a consummate professional and a great leader on and off the field," said LAFC executive vice president and general manager John Thorrington. "He and his wife Sally played an integral role within the LAFC family and community, and he will always be a part of our history."
Why then part with Zimmerman, especially when at 26 years he still has many years left in his career? It would be almost inconceivable in another league or another sport that a trade like this would take place.
LAFC gets from Nashville SC:
-- $600,000 in 2020 GAM;
-- $350,000 in 2021 GAM;
-- A 2020 international roster spot;
-- $150,000 in conditional GAM in both 2020 and 2021.
The trade includes an MLS record sum of allocation money for a
defender but it reflects the reality of MLS and the limitations an ambitious team like LAFC faces.
LAFC is led by 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, but it features a bevy of young South Americans, Uruguayans Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi, who are also Designated Players, but also Diego Palacios, Eddie Segura, Eduard Atuesta, Jose Cifuentes and Francisco Ginella, who all were signed with TAM and are returning from the South American Olympic qualifying.
There's only so much TAM or GAM an MLS team has at its disposal, even with the increases that will kick in, beginning in 2020 under the terms of the new CBA.
And there are only so many international roster spots a team has.
LAFC already acquired an extra international roster spot when it traded goalkeeper Tyler Miller to Minnesota United. It gets another international roster spot -- its 10th -- from Nashville SC, which to date has only acquired three international players from foreign clubs: Colombian Miguel Nazarit, Costa Rican Randall Leal and German Hany Mukhtar. (Honduran international Brayan Beckeles holds a green card.)
A deal with Nashville SC was natural because as an expansion team it was holding a pot of allocation money.
Thorrington admitted a balancing act was at play as LAFC sought to put its team together for 2020.
“We’re not desperate to make a move now," he told MLSSoccer.com, "but if the right option presents itself, we have the budget flexibility and roster flexibility to move."