Leonardo Selected In 2016 MLS Re-Entry Draft: What It Means

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PASADENA, CA - JULY 21: Luis Suarez #9 of FC Barcelona and Leonardo #22 of the Los Angeles Galaxy collide as Suarez tries to get off a shot in the International Champions Cup 2015 at Rose Bowl on July 21, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

CARSON, CA (December 22, 2016) – LA Galaxy center back Leonardo Da Silva was selected Thursday¬†by the Houston Dynamo in Stage Two of the 2016 MLS Re-Entry Draft. The 28-year-old departs after seven seasons with the LA Galaxy. What does this mean for both teams? Let’s break it down.

Leonardo Selected In 2016 MLS Re-Entry Draft: What It Means

Four players were selected in the Stage Two draft. In addition to Leonardo, Josh Williams of Toronto FC was taken by Columbus Crew SC. Real Salt Lake’s Olmes Garcia was taken by the San Jose Earthquakes. Lastly, D.C. United’s Andrew Dykstra was taken by Sporting Kansas City.

Houston now own Leonardo’s negotiation rights for the 2017 season. He was the Galaxy’s Defender of the Year in 2015, but made only four regular season appearances in 2016. Part of that is due to injury and the rise of Daniel Steres from LA Galaxy II to the senior team. The Brazilian made $160,000 as a base salary this season.

Houston Gets A Defender Who Fits The System

At that salary, he would be the most expensive defender on the team behind Raul Rodriquez, who reportedly made $350,000 last year.

First year head coach Wilmer Cabrera has already shaken the team up a bit this off-season. He could be looking to for a more South American style of play, with Alex Monteiro de Lima and possibly Eric ‘El Cubo’ Torres on the roster.

Leonardo fits that style of play perfectly, occasional lazy back pass and all. He’ll get the ball moving out of the back on the ground. He isn’t that great at the physical play that comes with MLS at times. But for $160,000, he’s a serviceable starting center back.

Perhaps he can help recruit other mid-level Brazilians to Houston and even mentor some of the younger defenders as well. If he and Rodriguez can become a good pair in the middle, Houston could improve in Cabrera’s first season.

Galaxy Free Up Cap Space With Back Up Departing

It was really unclear going into the off-season what Leonardo’s role would be for the Galaxy. Jelle Van Damme is clearly the best center back on the squad. With Curt Onalfo and Peter Vagenas ushering in a youth movement, Steres was probably going to be favored over Leonardo to start. That kind of money on a back up center back is a bit unnecessary.

Many fans didn’t care for or even disliked Leonardo. Now he’s off the team’s books. They’re free to go pursue a (probably) young and inexpensive center back to back up Van Damme and Steres. They can also use that cap space elsewhere, in the central midfield perhaps.

It is unclear how the Galaxy could fill that back-up center back role. A.J. DeLaGarza has trended more towards full back in recent years. The Galaxy academy and Los Dos don’t have a name that immediately comes to mind. LA also only have one pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, and it’s in the fourth round.

The free agent class doesn’t have many center backs that would be willing to sign a cheap deal and be a back up either.

Regardless, Leonardo is off the books, and his replacement will undoubtedly be cheaper and younger.

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