Irvin's Loan Could Be a Win-Win
Two days ago Saint Louis FC fans hopes were lifted a bit with the announcement of a contract extension of Irvin Herrera including an option for 2018. Subsequently an anvil was dropped on their toes with the announcement of his loan to New York Cosmos.
STLFC fans’ punishing optimism took a bit of a hit with the news, but there are some serious benefits to letting him go the way he did.
Two things struck me as I read the news. One is that STLFC can choose to (or choose not to) bring Irvin back in 2018 (possibly Irvin has a say in this as well). Another is the phrase “cash considerations”. It’s quite possible that the cash offer made by the Cosmos was too sweet for St. Louis to pass up, and by clearing out Irvin’s salary, adding in the cold cash, the team could conceivably sign as many as three players to replace him.
Let’s also consider Irvin himself. Yes, he was third in the race for the Golden Boot last season. Yes, he scored 14 goals in 25 appearances. Yes, his stock is rising for his home country after he scored a goal for them last week. However, we’ve all witnessed some holes in Irvin’s game.
First, and most famously, Irvin scored 6 of his 14 goals in two games against the Tulsa Roughnecks (one of those games Tulsa was a man down). He also scored 3 in one game against San Antonio. That leaves single goals in just five of St. Louis’ remaining games. The guy scores in bunches. While this looks great on a stat sheet at the end of a season, it makes it difficult for your team to win on a game to game basis.
Irvin also has a problem with physicality. When he has his back to goal he is easily pushed off the ball for a clearing by big USL centerbacks. That said, feed Irvin the ball in a halfway decent spot, it’s in the goal 9/10 times. While he has talent to spare, Irvin may be the kind of guy that needs an attacking style that matches his, or even a team built around him altogether.
So, in my opinion life without Irvin at Worldwide Technology Park is going to be just fine. Preki knows how to score without going out and finding a “superstar” striker. In the past we’ve seen that he has a system that involves certain players filling specific roles. Physicality mixed with pace and a heavy dose of extreme, unrelenting effort. Take a look at the beginnings of his roster build and see that he’s already gathering those types of players. Jeremy Alumbaugh also said in our last podcast that there are players, let’s say on the shortlist, with a proven history of scoring goals. I for one liked what I saw from Jason Plumhoff, on loan from Jacksonville Armada last season, and could see the team picking up a player like him--even on loan (Plumhoff led Harrisburg with ten goals when he was there).
Lastly, I see this situation as a win-win for St. Louis FC. Sit back and see how Irvin does with the Cosmos. If he does well, decide whether you keep him on to do the same for you, or sell him off for a nice transfer fee. If he does badly, no problem. Decline the option and move on. Nothing lost--in fact, maybe you dodged a bullet.
So if you’re trembling in your boots, take a few deep breaths. Have a beer. Stay calm and wait for a few more signings before you judge. We have MLS cuts around the corner and a coach that draws the right kind of players. -PG