TORONTO, ON – Friday night, Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids announced a blockbuster trade for Canadian international midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. TFC gave up $1.025 million in GAM, promising teenager Ralph Priso, an international roster slot, and a first round draft pick for Kaye. As a result, Mark-Anthony Kaye joins the midfield with familiar CanMNT player Jonathan Osorio, and well-known TFC captain, Michael Bradley.
Analyzing the Mark-Anthony Kaye Trade to Toronto FC from all sides
This article was co-written by Toronto FC beat writer Raheem Bashir and Colorado Rapids beat writer Matt Pollard.
OFFICIAL: We’ve acquired midfielder Ralph Priso, $1.025 Million in GAM, 2023 International Slot, and 2023 SuperDraft Pick from @TorontoFC in exchange for Mark-Anthony Kaye.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) July 8, 2022
The Toronto FC Perspective:
Yes, Toronto FC spends a lot of money to try to get Designated Players. Fans in MLS will also know Toronto and particularly, their matches against CF Montreal and the Seattle Sounders FC. They would also be wondering what is happened to TFC right now after having an abysmal season last year. This year is about the growth of young Canadian MLS players, something TFC put alot of money into.
What MLS fans outside of Canada may not know though is the money spent on the academy and youth teams. TFC won the U-15 championship in 2019 over Los Angeles FC. This is what TFC president Bill Manning said about that topic to Gareth Wheeler according to Toronto FC:
— Last Word on Soccer (@LastWordSC) June 26, 2022
Priso is a 19-year-old teenager, who plays the midfield position for Toronto FC. He is a homegrown player, having played with Toronto FC III and Toronto FC II, before making it to the big leagues in MLS. This is what Priso said about scoring the game-winning goal against Atlanta United FC according to the Canadian Press:
“I can’t speak for everybody, but personally … I feel like I play my best games at BMO,” Priso said. “I don’t know but I just play better when we play here. It’s just something that you can’t explain.”
This opinion is proven by statistics. According to Who Scored, Priso’s match rating at home is 6.52, while his road rating is 5.83. Also, two of Priso’s best three games came within the last three games (source from Who Scored) He has however, taken a step back from last year, where his match rating was 6.40 compared to 6.25 this year. He has also been included in big games including playing 62 minutes against CF Montreal in a game where Toronto dominated most of the game in the Canadian Championship and won 4-0.
One thing Colorado needs to do is make sure Priso gets comfortable in Colorado. He is only 19-years-old and has played his entire career in his hometown in Toronto. More importantly, making him play well in Commerce City, Colorado will do wonders to the team.
Also, of the two players, Mark-Anthony Kaye is right now the best player. This is what TFC president Bill Manning said about Kaye according to Luke Wileman of TSN:
“Big acquisition obviously with Mark-Anthony Kaye, a guy in his prime of his career, full Canadian international, from here, from Toronto. Look, we think he’ll have a massive impact on our midfield, an ability to prevent the ball out of the net. A true pro.”
It also means that TFC might try to expediate the rebuilding process with this trade. Yes, they lost Alejandro Pozuelo, but they are also getting Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito, and there are rumours that they will also get Federico Bernardeschi (according to Michael Singh of MLS). They also need some help in the midfield, which at times have given up too many turnovers.
“(We) believe he can develop into a core piece of our team’s midfield with his skillset” – Pádraig Smith, General Manager
Welcome to the squad, Ralph! pic.twitter.com/jID3kD5qQU
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) July 8, 2022
Saying that, this trade would not have happened if Colorado was not interested in Priso, which is a credit to Priso and the organization itself.
The Colorado Rapids Perspective:
This year has gone sideways for the Rapids. Last season’s water tight defense has regressed. Injuries have eliminated their depth and center back and out wide. Gyasi Zardes has underwhelmed as their big attacking addition in the primary transfer window. Changes were needed.
“[This trade] gets us various different assets that we believe we can use to make the roster better in both the short and long term,” Rapids VP and General Manager Pádraig Smith told Last Word.
Kaye is not the problem. But with just three goals and one assist on the year, he’s underproduced as the central attacking midfielder for Robin Fraser. He has not had much support around him but still has regressed from 2021.
“When the offer came in from Toronto, we were willing to explore it. It was going to have to be a record breaking deal. It was going to have to get to that overall $2 million mark from a valuation perspective,” Smith added.
If Colorado was going to shake things up, they needed the flexibility to do so. If they were going to part ways with a player of Kaye’s calibre, it needed to be for top dollar. They spent just over $1million in total assets a year ago to get him from LAFC. Now that’s easily doubled. Depending on the valuation for Priso and how high that draft pick is, the total haul could equal $2.5 million.
$1 mill GAM + Priso valued at $1 mill + Int slot (~200k) + draft pick =
Over $2.5 million in assets. Hard to see #Rapids96 getting a better offer for Kaye. If they do something with the Int slot, this is the start of a mid-year pivot. If they don’t, it’s the start of a rebuild. https://t.co/BcqYfbW6MG
— Matt Pollard (@LWOSMattPollard) July 8, 2022
They didn’t want to sell Kaye. He didn’t want out. But every player has a price and when a buyer meets and exceeds that, it’s hard to say no. Smith made it clear Kaye was professional through the entire process. He would have been happy to stay in Colorado, but if he was going to be traded, he, his family, and agent wanted it to be to Toronto.
Colorado still sees value in the SuperDraft. If Toronto stays where they are in the table, though unlikely, they could get a player ready to contribute in MLS immediately. The int slot gives them options in January.
The club is very familiar with Priso and believe he could contribute this year and become great in the future. Head Coach Robin Fraser was an assistant coach for the first team the first three years Priso was in the academy. Colorado gave a list of three players they were interested in from Toronto, specifying that the deal must include Priso.
“He needed to be a part of this trade. I’ve watched Priso for a number of years. The fact that we’ve got Robin here obviously makes that even better from a you know, from a Toronto perspective. We know their young lads very well. I’ve watched more of Toronto than any other team. Ralph is one of the most talented, young midfielders in MLS,” said Smith.
Ralph Priso is one of the best young midfielders in the league. He’s had a tough go this year, was a little bit too hard on himself at times, but a change of scenery should do him wonders. He’s a kid that really has his head on his shoulders & was always a pleasure to speak with
— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) July 8, 2022
In terms of this season, the war chest of GAM was the biggest acquisition in this trade. The market for domestic players moving within MLS has increased significantly in recent years. Kaye scored four goals and three assists in 11 months with the Rapids and his value doubled in that time.
“Long term, we’re certainly going to look to bring in another center back to challenge. And we also now are looking at bringing in an 8 that’s going to reinforce the midfield,” said Smith.
If Colorado’s trading for a better fitting CM this window, they’ll need all that GAM. It’s unlikely they’ll be making a move for both positions without another significant departure. Smith was clear they haven’t given up on this season.
Even if there’s an answer at center back in house and Zardes starts scoring, they’ll need an impact signing, possibly two to make that happen.
Last Word on the Mark-Anthony Kaye trade: CanMNT implications
Mark-Anthony Kaye is the best if not, one of the best Canadian midfielders in MLS right now. The one player fans will point out is joining CanMNT teammate, Jonathan Osorio. There are also other players from TFC who played with the CanMNT, like Jacob Shaffelburg and Ayo Akinola. Also, being Canadian was a factor in Toronto FC getting Kaye from the Colorado Rapids. This is what Bob Bradley said live on TSN on Saturday:
It is important to note there is possibly going to be other players emerging from TFC III and TFC II that could make the national team. Akinola before he got his injury last year was one of TFC’s most dangerous scoring weapons.
He showed some of his former self when he scored two goals against CF Montreal in the Canadian Championship. Jayden Nelson, another 19-year-old is another example as he is breaking through this year. This is what Bob Bradley said about Nelson, including the fact that he has the ability to get away from guys according to Lizzy Becherano of 90MIN:
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB
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