Cronin and Burch Join Minnesota United in Blockbuster Deal

by on 31 March 2017

In a move designed to strengthen its spine, Minnesota United is completing a big trade swapping two players with the Colorado Rapids. The Loons have offered up Mohammed Saeid and Josh Gatt for Sam Cronin and Marc Burch.

The shake-up will bring in MLS experience to a Loons squad lacking just that. At 30, Sam Cronin has 222 MLS starts since joining the league in 2009. The defensive midfielder has logged nearly 20,000 league minutes since then, having helped anchor San Jose and Colorado to deep post-season runs. Individually, Cronin was an MLS All-Star in 2015. He won the Supporters’ Shield with San Jose in 2012, and earned two caps with the USMNT in 2009.

Cronin was the captain of Colorado for much of 2015 and all of 2016/17. It’s possible that he’ll inherit the armband in Minnesota, as well.

Burch is a veteran of the league as well. Since joining MLS in 2006, the 32-year-old has made 172 starts with five MLS sides. He started 27 matches at left back with Colorado in its 2016 campaign, helping anchor one of the stingiest defenses in recent league history. While known for a defense-first playing style, Burch can also deliver a dangerous cross.

Saeid was selected by Minnesota in the Expansion Draft this December. The midfielder made three starts in the club’s first four matches but was cycled for time with Rasmus Schüller and Ibson. Collin Martin’s strong Loons debut this past weekend only made the center-midfield depth chart more muddled. Trading Saeid also opens up an international spot for Minnesota.

Gatt, meanwhile, was signed towards the end of the preseason. He never saw the field in the MNUFC’s opening four matches. His adjustment period coming to Minnesota wasn’t smooth, as Gatt failed to get minutes even during Minnesota’s minor selection crisis last weekend due to international call-ups and a suspension. The 25-year-old winger previously played for c in Norway’s Tippeligaen.


Minnesota United is expected to continue making trades within the league as it seeks to turn around its historically-bad start this season. Freeing up an international spot gives the team a wider pool of players from which to draw in seeking further reinforcement. Meanwhile, MNUFC’s senior roster is full, and it will need to offload as many players as it takes on in any future deal. Check back to this space for more updates and reactions throughout the day.

Update: 12:01 p.m. CDT

Minnesota United will not be sending any allocation money to Colorado in this deal. According to sources, the Loons have plenty of allocation funds to work with. However, it’s more likely that these funds will be used to try and secure a Designated Player or another player from within the league.

Wes Burdine contributed to this report.

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  • Steve Lindley

    Is Colorado doing this for the GAM/TAM or for Gatt? What are they getting out of the deal?

    • Jacob

      My first thought was that Burch and/or Cronin might be declining fast, but I suspect not. Probably a mix of Garberbucks and trying to balance their depth.

      • Timber Dome

        Ya…I think it’s a mix of a serviceable offensive-type backup (Mo), rolling the dice on a possible big bolster for their offense (Gatt), and $$$. Probably not that much though, the guys we are getting are a bit long in the tooth

    • Alex Schieferdecker

      No allocation money, according to Jeff. Straight player swap, Saeid and Gatt for Cronin and Burch.

      • Loonited

        How did we get two of Colorado’s starters and not give up any allocation money? Seems like too good a trade to be true!

    • Eric Beckman

      Do they have younger players ready to take over in these spots?
      I’m definitely glad to have these two positions reinforced. I am hoping to see some young and developing players (beyond Dunladi) who could really grow as Loons.

  • Jacob

    Looks like a great deal.

    We shore up our two biggest needs with quality veterans for a guy at our deepest spot and a guy with only one knee who can’t get on the field yet.

    I really like both Saeid and Gatt and wish them well, but I’m really pleased with this move. I wonder if Cronin displaces Warner or Schuller in the starting lineup. I also wonder what this portends about other upcoming moves.

  • STPCommuter

    Are they available tomorrow?

  • Alex Schieferdecker

    I like it. If Cronin is as good as he was last year, then that’s massive for us in the middle of the field. Burch immediately is the favorite at LB. Just need to trade for a CB now, and I’m much more pleased.

    This being said, I hope Heath does not start or put on the bench either of these guys tomorrow. Theisson’s debut after being with the team just a day was silly. These guys need time to settle and get to know the team.

    • Jacob

      Yeah rushing them to start tomorrow would be a bit silly.

      I really hope these guys can bring of Colorado’s culture over here, or at least show the newbies a thing or two about what it takes to thrive in MLS. Cronin was captaining Colorado, right? I don’t want to expect the guy with the armband to fix everything after the Demidebacle, but this seems like just the sort of thing this team needs.

  • Scherbs

    Would have liked to see what Gatt could do. Normally I would say these new guys are too old, but in the end I think this is a good deal. We’ll see how it pans out on the pitch.

    • Jeff Rueter

      I know this isn’t related, but you have the best avatar of any Disqus profile I’ve ever seen.

    • Wes

      I agree. I was so so excited about Gatt. But Cronin is a damned beast. Amazed at this deal.

      • Benzino

        Looking at the players vs. players swap, this was a nice move by MN United. But looking at the financial ramifications, I wonder what the true costs is as they are taking on higher salaries, and helping to pay the salaries for (I think) both outgoing players.

  • Ian Y

    Can someone please explain how the transfer market works in the MLS because I am very confused, I thought that by this point in the season all players would be cap tied even if the transfer window was still open.

    • Benzino

      You only get cap tied in tournaments, like US Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League. So you can make inter-league trades until MLS locks the rosters, sometime in September or so.

      • Dave Benhart

        September? I thought there was a Spring transfer window then a locked in roster. And there was the international summer transfer window.

        • Benzino

          I was mistaken a bit, thanks for pointing that out (and FYI most of this is cut and paste from MLS Rules & Regs). Per MLS, there are two transfer windows, The Primary Transfer Window (Feb. 14 – May 8, 2017) and Secondary Transfer Window (July 10 – Aug. 9, 2017), the two periods in which teams can register new players via international transfers or intra-league trades.

          2017 Roster Freeze Date is September 15, 2017, at which time teams must submit their final 30-man roster that cannot be changed through the day after MLS Cup.

          • Dave Benhart

            Thanks for those details!

  • Etch

    Wouldn’t it be nice to use the international spot on a keeper?

  • Alex Schieferdecker

    Colorado fans are mad about this, so I think that tells you all you need to know.

  • Brian Scott

    JasonMa a blogger for Colorado posted this on BigSoccer.

    Ok, this move was a little different than first reported.

    Colorado sends Burch to Minnesota in exchange for Gatt, Saeid, and an international slot. Jeff Carlisle is also reporting that Minnesota will be picking up some of Gatt’s salary.

    Colorado then waives Sam Cronin who Minnesota claims immediately off waivers.

    The latter move is due to the new CBA rules which state that a player who got above the agreed upon salary bump for a player claimed in the re-entry draft can’t be traded in the following year, to avoid getting around the re-entry draft rules.

    Now I’m assuming that the Burch trade was done with the full knowledge of the Cronin move by both sides and the Rapids might have gotten more from Minnesota than they would have without Cronin becoming available.