Continuing with their 2014 roster makeover, the San Jose Earthquakes traded midfielder Marvin Chavez to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for forward/midfielder Atiba Harris.
Harris, a native of the Caribbean Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, will be joining his sixth MLS team since joining the league in 2006. In his one campaign with the Rapids, Harris made 29 appearance with 24 starts. The 6'3" speedster tallied 5 goals and 1 assist in 2012 minutes during the MLS season. The St. Kitts international holds a United States permanent resident card and will not count as an international player on the roster.
Chavez, while a valuable member of the 2012 Supporters' Shield winning Earthquakes, saw his production diminish significantly last season in San Jose as he clashed with the coaching staff over playing time and his commitments to the Honduran national team. After posting 3 goals and 13 assists in 27 appearances in 2012, Chavez saw his numbers drop to 1 goal and 1 assist in 15 appearances in 2013. With his public airing of his desire to play elsewhere in MLS made public back in November, it was only a matter of time before the Quakes looked to move the disgruntled midfielder.
Prior to joining the Rapids, Harris spent two difficult years with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Selected through the Expansion Draft from FC Dallas prior to Vancouver's inaugural 2011 season, Harris suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee during a training session just 5 games into the campaign. He returned to action in early 2012, but re-injured the same knee and was out until August. Since making the move to Colorado, Harris has stayed injury-free and in 2013 totaled the most minutes played since his days with FC Dallas.
In 8 total MLS seasons, Harris has amassed 22 goals and 20 assists from his position as a winger/striker. Often playing on the outside in a 4-2-3-1 empty-bucket formation, Harris is known for his speed along the sidelines and his cutbacks into the center of the pitch -- a bit in the mold of former Quakes midfielder Simon Dawkins, now plying his trade with Derby Country in the English second division.
Perhaps better known to Earthquakes supporters for the red card he earned last season when San Jose visited Colorado, Harris is otherwise known as a good locker room presence and should fit in nicely with head coach Mark Watson's revamped 2014 roster. He annual production numbers of around 4 goals and 4 assists suggest Harris will be more or a role player for the Quakes, perhaps even in an impact substitute capacity. He could also provide cover for Shea Salinas on the wings or even Chris Wondolowski at forward. While in Colorado, Harris was judged to be moderately effective, but never spectacular.
Judging the deal from a financial perspective, especially as Watson and general manager John Doyle work to keep the Earthquakes within the salary cap, the trade is a wash for both sides. According to figures released by the MLS Players Union, Harris had a base salary of $165,000 in 2013, with a guaranteed compensation package totaling $173,275 while Chavez earned a flat $175,000 salary. Of note, although it was not mentioned by either team in its official press release announcing the trade, MLSSoccer.com reported that the Quakes received allocation money from the Rapids in the deal, perhaps tilting the financial scale in favor of San Jose. MLS later issued a correction via its Twitter account that allocation was not a part of the deal.
What about rating the deal statistically? Using the league-wide 2013 MLS Castrol Index as a guide, Harris was rated at #168 and Chavez was rated at #244, which suggests neither was a difference maker last season. Chavez was certainly a better player statistically the season before, notably because Harris was out after multiple knee surgeries, but he regressed significantly over the last year.
The bottom line for the Quakes? After finishing off the 2013 season at an impasse with the San Jose technical staff, Chavez was bound to continue his career away from the Bay Area. That the Earthquakes were able to get a proven MLS player, one who will not have his commitments split between club and country in a World Cup year, in exchange for Chavez should be considered a win.