This week the Houston Dynamo swapped young forward Jason Johnson for Alex from the Chicago Fire. Here are three random thoughts on the trade, you likely won’t read anywhere else:
1. Losing Jason Johnson is not a loss – Whenever you evaluate a trade, you have to first look at what the trade cost you as a team. On the Houston side of the ledger is young forward Jason Johnson. Houston’s propensity to play some combination of a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 should ideally suit a forward like Johnson capable of playing on the outside, yet he failed to earn any playing time under new manager Owen Coyle. Let’s face it, Jason Johnson failed to earn playing time with as anemic as the offense has been at times for the Houston Dynamo in 2015.
Every young player may eventually have a moment where the light comes on and they figure out they can play at the highest level. That light never came on for Johnson in Houston under two different coaches. Further, he didn’t look particularly dangerous on loan last year in Pittsburgh. While it is entirely possible that a new environment and a new manager may bring the best out of him, it seems unlikely. That being said, best of luck to Jason Johnson on proving people wrong.
2. Alex is a known (and not great) commodity – With 48 starts and 4,324 minutes in MLS under his belt, Alex netted 3 goals and 2 assists despite playing primarily as an attacking midfielder/withdrawn forward or on the wing. That lack of production is problematic and it caused the Chicago Fire to decline Alex’s option on his contract and expose him to the re-entry draft. However, Chicago and Alex withdrew his name from the draft as they agreed to new terms late last year.
Was he put in the wrong position or formation or did he not have teammates capable that played a similar brand of soccer around him? Who knows? The Chicago Fire haven’t exactly been the best run organization over Alex’s tenure in Chicago. Perhaps no better proof of that is the fact that they decided to resign Alex last November and are now shipping him off for cap space.
Alex should provide some depth in midfield for a Houston Dynamo team that may miss Oscar Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido this summer. However, one should not expect much more than that. Paying low six-figures for depth is not a bad contract by MLS standards.
3. The Houston Dynamo do not feel they can sign a better player – Both Alex and Jason Johnson acquired green cards per the league’s webpage and there are no draft picks or allocation dollars trading hands. Since Jason Johnson is still Generation Adidas, the Houston Dynamo traded away a cap exempt player for a player who likely has a low six figure contract. We won’t know the exact cap hit until the Players’ Union publishes salaries, but Alex did make $133,000 last year and was exposed to the re-entry draft before resigning. As a result, the most disappointing part of the acquisition, the Houston Dynamo did not feel they could sign a better player for the same cap hit.
This off-season the Houston Dynamo brought in Raul Rodriguez and Leonel Miranda. While the verdict is still out with Miranda, it’s hard to see Rodriguez as anything less than a great signing for the Houston Dynamo right now. So why doesn’t that same Houston Dynamo front office that brought in Rodriguez feel they could find a better player than Alex for the same cap hit?
Dwain Capodice is a freelance writer covering the Houston Dynamo and the US National Team for Keeper Notes and also serves as the Fan Blogger covering soccer at Chron.com. He can be reached on twitter @dcapodice or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.