This trade feels different. Not like Batman or Superman leaving, but different none the less.
Maybe it’s because Mason grew up 20 miles away from where I did, maybe it’s because the goal he scored against Portland in the Open Cup, or how he tore LAFC to shreds in LA.
It’s different when you lose a 21 year old striker who seemed to give everything, to make his career happen when it sure seem like it wasn’t going to happen after year one.
The fact is, this is the business of soccer. Sometimes you hear about players joining your team, sometimes the player is leaving your team. Sometimes the same player does both of those things. I always heard rumors about Mason around Minneapolis and Madison, but the fact is he figured it out and produced in MLS over time even when others doubted him. When he got his chance he proved he could play in this league, and that is the confidence young strikers need to have if they want to make it. It was a breath of fresh air in Minnesota to see that from a young striker, and it will be missed.
Piece of advice for my past self: don’t get too close to a player on your team, because finding someone who only plays for your club is rarer then winning a trophy. The memories will stay, but the Loons will move on, and there is a lot to unpack from this trade. However, first his best performance as a professional so far.
So what did the Loons get in return for Mason?
At first glance someone says nothing besides a draft pick, which is never exciting until you see the player. However the GAM, General Allocation Money, is significant. Recently the Loons gave up a reported 150k in 2021 GAM for Kei Kamara, while in giving up Toye they received a reported 150k in 2020 GAM and 450k in 2022 GAM.
The elephant in the room is what they do with the extra 300k in GAM next year, and what they need the 150k in GAM for this year.
This is the part that becomes frustrating as a fan, tracking fake money for future players we don’t know. However, the Loons have generally got this right in the past. If they weren’t going to use Toye this year, and plan on bringing someone in who will massively help the team next year this is a win.
The only way the Loons don’t win is if Toye turns into a Best XI MLS striker and stays in the league for years to haunt them. If he ends up going abroad, they retain a percentage of his sell on clause.
The trade is a win, win, win. The player who seemed to have wanted a move for more playing time clearly wins when he gets to play for one of the greatest strikers of all time. The Impact get a young striker to hopefully build their team around over the next 5 years, and the Loons get a significant amount of Allocation Money for an asset who held high value before the value dropped.
However if they misspend the allocation money, the odds are the Loons really lose.
MNUFC Striker Toye
To try and compare Mason to Kei for anyone besides the staff who see them in training everyday would be a pointless exercise, due to the small sample size of minutes in the same system for Kamara. However, when you do look at the numbers compared to Kei in Colorado and Minnesota, Mason was clearly behind them in every category for a striker.
Nobody who is upset about the trade thinks Mason is better currently then Kei, but they are upset because at the very least Toye could at the very least be a Kei Kamara type player in MLS over his career.
The more interesting comparison is between Toye and Amarilla. In similar minutes Amarilla has blown Toye away in creating should be goals for themselves. While still being young and on the cusp of their prime for a striker, if the Loons had to make a choice between Toye and Amarilla they might have made the right choice. Especially when you consider long term flexibility, with Amarilla being a loan with an option.
If I had to compare Mason Toye to strikers in the league based on underlying numbers and relative age the best two comparisons are NYRB’s Brian White (24) and Miami’s Julián Carranza (20). He seems to be clearly above the level of Adam Jahn and CJ Sapong, so at the very least Toye should be a striker in this league for a long time, how prolific he ends up being we will see.
At the end of the day, while I’m upset for personal reasons the move makes sense. Minnesota United was offered a good chunk of money to part ways with a coveted asset. They have two good strikers, who are performing better right now and who they have options to bring back next year. The Loons need to get the next signings with this GAM right, however we have a writer here at EPL who is much better at that (Hi Jacob)...
The underlying numbers suggest Toye will be good, and fun to watch for awhile. Where he is 5 years from now will depend on if he can create more chances for himself, and finish them like he was finishing them last year.
Goodbye Mason, and keep shaking the maracas, I’m sure Chase will appreciate it.