Marry/Boff/Kill: Bakary Soumare

Soumare's harshest critics are likely influenced by his scintillating form for the Fire as a 22-year-old. Now 28, he's just entering the prime of a defender's career. - USA TODAY Sports

Tempestuous Malian is entering the prime of his career, but cap and temperment issues make his continued employment potentially tricky

"Marry/F**k/Kill" is a game of the Internet age, and the rules are simple: name a group of three people ("Iron Man and Thor and Captain America," "Blanche, Rose or Dorothy"), and ask the crowd to choose one fate for each of them - one to partner with for good, one explored for a connection but not kept, and one cast off into the outer darkness. Fans of 30 Rock will recognize this game in its safe-for-primetime version, Marry/Boff/Kill, which name we're borrowing because we do not want SB Nation getting angry emails.

Here at Hot Time, we're going to use the game to talk about players - specifically Chicago Fire players, naturally. We're going to use it as a way to talk about the roster. It works like this: ‘Marry' indicates a willingness to keep the player regardless of cap issues or any other considerations; ‘Boff' (i.e., ‘F**k) means that we're, uhh, f**king the player over, asking for modifications to their contract or running them through the Re-Entry Draft process - we're interested but not on these terms; and ‘Kill' means terminating the player's contact with CF97.

We're going to present some kind of argument for each outcome, and let the community have their say. I mean, why not? It's something like three months until the first preseason friendly. In case you didn't get with the action earlier, we started the series with Logan Pause, then featured Gonzalo Segares, Chris Rolfe, Joel Lindpere, Egidio Arevalo Rios, and Hunter Jumper. We start today with our rangy, tempestuous Malian center back, Bakary Soumare.

Bakary Soumare, #4, 28 years old

2013: 22 appearances, all starts; 1919 minutes; 1 goal, 0 assists

MLS career: 89 appearances (81 starts), 7220 minutes, 1 goal, 2 assists

$310,000 base salary, $350,000 guaranteed

It's all about the Benjamins as we look at Soumare for Marry/Boff/Kill. That cap number - $310,000 - is eye-popping, certainly; but it is generally understood that, as part of the deal to acquire Baky from Philadelphia, some wizardry took place which buys that number down. Was it allocation money? Is Philly just paying part of Soumare's salary in order to get him off the books? What is Bakary's cap hit now? We don't really know. It's educated guess time. (Of course, if someone reading this has the information, there's the comments down below. Educate us!)

EDIT: reader "xBrodiex" reports in the comments that Philadelphia will pay "approximately $200,000" of Soumare's wages in 2014. Those numbers, if correct, would completely change the cap-charge outlook for Baky; at $310k he's pricey, but at $110k he's a bit of a bargain. Vote accordingly, Fire nation!

The case for ‘Marry'

Soumare came into a back line that was absolutely a shambles; the team's entire shape had started to look crabbed and nervous as everyone anxiously tried to cover for the back four. Then Bakary arrived, the Fire started to play football again. Sure, he has moments of mind-blowing nonchalance, but most of the criticism headed Baky's way has to do with the fan's projections of where he'd be by this time, based upon his scintillating 2008 form as a 22-year-old. It's important to remember that, until he returned to Chicago, Soumare had spent much of the previous two years either hurt or on a bench in Germany. It's also important to note that, at 28, Bakary is just entering the prime of a defender's career. If we can keep him motivated, he could anchor the back line for the next 6-8 years.

The case for ‘Boff'

That said, that salary number is cray-cray. What is this, the Championship? $310k for a central defender is something like 11 percent of the cap; blowing that on a guy who takes little cat-naps mid-game is hard to countenance. As I mentioned above, we've been told by reliable people that Soumare's actual cap hit is nothing close to what he gets paid; your selection of ‘Boff' may simply mean that you aren't buying that noise.

The case for ‘Kill'

Even with Soumare, our defense was the worst it's been in years - 52 goals against? Oy. He and second-year man Austin Berry never truly gelled as a partnership, perhaps because they are very similar players - fantastic athletes who relish physical challenges and defend well one-on-one. It's just possible one will have to go to allow the other to flourish. That, or Soumare needs to spend all winter watching tapes of a pre-Montreal Alessandro Nesta - is it possible to learn anticipation?

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