In a stunning move that may have cast a small shadow over the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Galaxy have waived starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Penedo was a key piece in the Galaxy's 2014 MLS Cup Championship run last winter that ended in the Galaxy lifting an MLS-record fifth trophy.
Penedo most recently excelled in the Gold Cup tournament, leading the Panamanian team to the bronze medal, after a controversial referee decision destroyed the country's hopes of reaching the final.
It's no secret that Penedo has been upset with his contract situation all season. Penedo did not start in the LA Galaxy's first few games of the season because of it, but then decided to honor his contract after the Galaxy cut off negotiations in February.
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"He wanted out," Bruce Arena, the LA Galaxy coach and general manager said. "At some point players need to live by the contracts they sign."
Arena was clearly frustrated with Penedo's attitude and the situation had to have become pretty destructive for it to get to this point.
A Veces las circunstacias del presente te hacen tomar decisiones radicales, que el CORAZÓN no las aprueba pero la RAZÓN y el ORGULLO si. JP — Jaime Penedo (@JaimePenedo26) July 29, 2015
I am writing this to thank all the support the fans have given me, from Panama and also in Los Angeles, during my time with the Galaxy. Everything was very special, and I know that this decision has surprised many of you, it was difficult but it was the decision that I had to make because of principles. *****The Galaxy fans: Don't doubt that I will always keep you in my heart, every chant I used to listen at each game, used to touch me deeply. The only way I could thank you was to play for you and try to do things right. Thank you. *****The Club and staff: I have no complaints, everybody treated me nice, starting with my friends that arrange the plants, the ones who clean and maintain the stadium and administrative staff and coaches and trainers. *****Contract: Your job is reflected in your contract, and it was a thermometer that did not measure myself positively. Let's not talk about money, at the end your performance show that. What made me take this step is mainly that this contract does not guarantee and doesn't meet all the conditions that can give me stability, for my family and as a soccer player. The contract does not have a disposition for things to change, so it's better to leave now, with my head up. These two years were wonderful, thanks so much for everything, thank you to my teammates and to everybody who belongs to this great Club, LA Galaxy. ⚽️Jaime Penedo
From Penedo's tweet and Instagram post we can decipher that this was the keeper's decision and that he asked the club to release him. Penedo specifically pointed to his contract as the reason for leaving, saying that it was not "guaranteed" and that it did not provide "stability."
Penedo was set to make $178,125 this season, an increase of $40,000 over last season according to the MLS Players union.
"He's a good person. We wish him the best," Arena continued. "I think it's fair to say that Jaime feels this move is good for his family."
Penedo's departure places a major hole in net for the Galaxy. Brian Rowe has started in goal for the month of July while Penedo was away in the Gold Cup, but is just 3-3-1 in those seven starts. He has just 14 games of experience in the MLS something that could press Arena to bring in a veteran.
That veteran could be a familiar face. Former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is rumored to be headed back to Los Angeles in a potential trade with Orlando City.
The Jamaican goalkeeper played with the Galaxy from 2009-2011, winning the MLS Cup in his final year and goalkeeper of the year in 2010.
Rickett's has played with the Montreal Impact and Portland Timbers, and has played a backup role with Orlando City. His contract is small at $260,000 keeping the Galaxy under the annual MLS salary cap.
It helps that Orlando City needs to create room on the roster after acquiring Adrian Winter and David Mateos from Europe.
Nobody knows where Penedo will land, but if the LA Galaxy can bring back Ricketts in return, it could work out in the Galaxy's favor.