Jefferson Gottardi's days as a member of the Mutiny are numbered.
When the Bolivian forward passes a physical that will allow him to come off the 15-day disabled list, which is expected any day, he will be waived or traded to make room for Ghanan defender Joe Addo.
The Mutiny has five foreign players after it obtained Addo last week. Teams are allowed four foreign players under Major League Soccer rules. Gottardi has been on the disabled list since suffering a severe ankle sprain in early July.
Gottardi was signed by MLS and allocated to Tampa Bay after Mutiny coach Tim Hankinson went on an off-season scouting trip to Bolivia. Gottardi has a semi-guaranteed contract, which means if he is waived the league would no longer have to pay him.
"If he had a guaranteed contract then we never would've tried to get Joe Addo," Hankinson said. "There was no way the league was going to eat (Gottardi's) contract. We made it semi-guaranteed because we knew there were too many questions about Jefferson."
Gottardi scored two goals in a 5-2 season-opening loss to D.C. United. But in the 10 games he played afterward, he scored only twice and added an assist. He was benched at one point for lack of production.
Now Gottardi, 23, is caught in a numbers game. In desperate need of defensive help, Tampa Bay had to sign Addo, captain of the Ghana national team. The three other foreign players on the roster, Carlos Valderrama, Raul Diaz Arce and Mauricio Ramos, were too valuable to let go.
Trading Gottardi will be tricky. The Mutiny must find a team willing to give up an American player in exchange for a foreigner. Since all teams already have four foreigners, Tampa Bay would have to find a team willing to trade a foreign player under a semi-guaranteed contract.
The Mutiny's other off-season foreign acquisition, Alejandro Sequeira, also didn't work out. Sequeira was waived, brought back then traded to San Jose for Diaz Arce last month.
TRADE DEADLINE: The MLS trade deadline is Friday, but don't look for a blockbuster deal by the Mutiny. If there are no takers for Gottardi, the only other trade possibility would be for a defender or a speedy midfielder.
"I'm sure they'll be phone calls from different teams," Hankinson said. "We'll listen to what they have to say, but I'm not sure what's out there at this point. Teams are always looking to improve, and if there's something where we think we'll improve ourselves then we'll do it. But we're not just going to trade just to trade."
U.S. OPEN CUP: Friday's match against Colorado also is a U.S. Open Cup match.
Tampa Bay is in the round of 16, and could advance with a win Friday. The Mutiny has never won more than two games in the Cup. It defeated Los Angeles and the A-League's Mid Michigan Bucks to advance this season.
GARBER'S FIRST WEEK: New commissioner Don Garber is still making his transition from the NFL to MLS. But he made time to watch his first MLS game last Sunday when the Mutiny played at D.C. United.
"One thing I thought was interesting was that at times I felt I was at a Tampa Bay Mutiny game," Garber said. "I don't think I've been to a game where fans were cheering for another player (former United player Diaz Arce, who still has an ardent following among Salvadoran fans in the Washington area). I think one of the challenges of this league is to work closely with that group to have them care about D.C. United, not just one player."
Garber also expressed his desire to find local ownership for Tampa Bay and Dallas, the only teams still owned by MLS.
"Getting local ownership is important for us and any sports league," Garber said. "It's on the list of top five things to do.'