Marco Pappa is officially heading to the Colorado Rapids after a trade was announced on Tuesday. The Seattle Sounders will receive an undisclosed amount of Allocation Money in return, giving the team some much-needed salary-cap relief. They also got a combination of general and Targeted Allocation Money from D.C. United in exchange for Lamar Neagle.
"I think he's been a good player for us," Sounders President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey told SoundersFC.com. "Unfortunately his cap number was significantly higher for next year, and we have to get value for every player. Every player has a number at which they are valuable and a number at which we feel it exceeds their value. With Marco, he's a good player, we had a decent offer, so we moved him. We felt like that was for the good of the group."
Replacing Pappa might not be the easiest task. Even after missing five matches after a DUI arrest and the summer transfer window acquisitions of Andreas Ivanschitz and Nelson Haedo Valdez -- two players who ostensibly filled similar roles -- Pappa continued to get regular minutes as both a starter and off the bench. Among Pappa's starts were the must-win regular-season finale and the home leg in the FC Dallas series. Over his final four appearances with the Sounders, Pappa scored a goal and had a pair of assists. The Guatemala international ended the season with three goals and an MLS career-high seven assists (including playoffs).
At the start of the campaign, this looked like it could be a breakout season. Through his first 11 appearances, Pappa had two goals and five assists and was a key component of an attack that was heavy on possession and deadly on the counter. But Pappa would miss eight of the Sounders' next 11 matches through a combination of international duty and league-mandated counseling. It wasn't until the final few weeks of the season and playoffs that Pappa regained his earlier form.
Despite that production and generally establishing himself as one of the Sounders' more creative players, his role going forward was not entirely clear and it was probably a safe bet that the raise he was due made keeping him near impossible. Although the MLS Players' Union listed Pappa as only making $75,000, Sounders sources have indicated he counted at least twice that against the salary budget and picking up hist 2016 option would have meant paying him considerably more than that.
There were also surely some lingering frustrations over Pappa's play. While possessing one of the best left-footed strikes in all of MLS and displaying some amazing control, Pappa also tended to drift in and out of games. Although he was almost always deployed as a wide midfielder, his propensity to drift inside and tendency toward over-dribbling were constant points of frustration among the Sounders coaching staff.