Sources: Red Bulls acquire Toronto’s Eckersley at a bargain

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

Following initial reports from ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, sources tell EOS Toronto FC fullback Richard Eckersley has been traded to New York, pending league approval.

From a salary standpoint, the deal is akin to the Heath Pearce trade with Chivas USA. Toronto will pay out a large portion of Eckersley’s hefty final contract year while New York take on a “significantly” smaller amount. Sources explain his combined wages for 2014 would see Eckersley paid “DP money” thanks in part to a back-ended restructuring of his 2013 contract. The total number is likely in the neighborhood of $350-400k a year, though one source believes it is closer to $450k.

To make this deal happen, Toronto will pay Eckersley the lion’s share of his guaranteed salary, while New York pays anywhere from $100-150k for his services. A buyout clause in Toronto’s original deal means their share will not count against the cap. For New York, the bargain-basement wages allow the team to bring in a quality player under a stretched salary cap.

New York will not be trading any talent in exchange for the English defender, but allocation money is “probable.”

The trade is no surprise to Eckersley, who expected a move for many months. The beneficiary of an ill-advised, big money contract during the Paul Mariner era, Eckersley’s outlandish wages offered him a comfortable living, but squeezed Toronto’s cap over the past few years. In 2013, he restructured that deal, deferring tens of thousands of dollars to the final year of his contract.

Money wasn’t the only obstacle in his departure. Like former teammate Bobby Convey, Eckersley sought a winning situation within the league and the Red Bulls seemed a perfect fit. The fullback has enjoyed his time in MLS and was willing to eschew offers overseas for another crack at success. Toronto’s buyout offer allows the English back to recover a large portion of his money while looking towards other challenges within MLS.

In New York, the Worsley native will be pit against Japanese fullback Kosuke Kimura for the starting right back spot. While lacking in quickness, Eckersley still likes to get involved on the offensive end. He brings the Red Bulls a respected, intelligent, distributive foot off of the right that can play a compliment to either midfielders Eric Alexander or Lloyd Sam. He has also featured for Toronto at left back and centerback as well, giving New York the versatility they seek in this multi-front season..