26 November 2007

Question of the day

So, I'm new to the whole MLS thing, in that I only started watching games over the summer. And now it's the off-season, and players are moving all over (DC to San Jose to Columbus, for one), and I am so confused. Anyone want to explain the MLS transfer market to me? In small words?

9 comments:

MJR said...

"MLS transfer market" = trades. It's exactly the same setup as baseball or basketball. The only transfers in the int'l soccer sense come from outside the league into MLS.

Amanda said...

MJR: That's what I thought, but how does that work with the league owning everyone's contracts? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like that would cause issues. Thanks, though -- that helps a lot.

MJR said...

Yeah, the truth is I have no idea. I would assume something like this: the players are registered to the league but controlled by individual teams, so transfers are out since you're not moving "outside your club" so to speak. Hence the trades. Only when you're moving in or out of the MLS bubble are you changing registry, so that's when transfers come in.

Again, though, I have no damn clue for certain. Good blog, though, I'm enjoying reading some back posts.

Rob said...

I've got a pretty good grasp of it, do you have specific questions?

Rob said...

As for the specific case of Brian Carroll (DC to San Jose to Columbus)...

When new teams enter the league they do an Expansion Draft, where every team can protect ten players and the rest may be chosen by the new club(s). (That's the simple version, there are a few further nuances to it.)

San Jose didn't particularly want Carroll as a player, but chose him as a commodity, and then traded him on to Columbus for Kai Kamara. This happened a lot last year with the revolving door roster that Toronto had before the season even began.

The MLS "trade" system can be very tough for foreign players who aren't used to being moved around from team to team at the clubs' whims. It can be especally cruel when a player (Alecko Eskandarian's trade from DC last year is a good example of this) is shipped off without being consulted about it or getting so much as a heads-up that it was coming.

Rob said...

And if you think there would be issues with MLS owning all the contracts, you should've seen it back in the days when AEG owned all of LA, Chicago, San Jose, DC, Colorado and NY/NJ Metrostars. There were some horribly shady trades that went on back then.

Amanda said...

Rob: thanks, that's really helpful. So they're pretty much all trades (like, a player/player switch, or a player in exchange for a draft pick)? Never money? I don't really follow any other sports, but that was my impression of how it worked. Moving players without getting their input seems odd to me now, but I guess that's allowed? Are they guaranteed the same salary at their new club, or do they have to renegotiate?

Rob said...

Well, players can *sort of* be traded for money. In addition to players and draft picks, MLS has a very confusing commodity called "allocations." An allocation is worth up to around $125,000 and can be used as a transfer fee for foreign players, buy down a player's salary cap figure or to claim dibs on a U.S. International (senior or youth) coming to MLS from abroad.

These things are often traded for players. When D.C. United sent Freddy Adu and Nick Rimando to Salt Lake last winter, they did get Jay Nolly but were more interested in the max value allocation that could be used to get other players. D.C. also got rights to a portion of Freddy's eventual transfer abroad.

Players are guaranteed the amount of money that their contract says, this is where it helps that the league pays them, not the clubs. The clubs can negeotiate in the trade to divide up the payment of a player, though. For example, D.C. traded Facundo Erpen to Colorado for Greg Vanney, but the deal stipulated that this season, D.C.'s salary cap would only be hit for Erpen's value and Colorado would be charged Vanney's value. (Erpen was a cheaper player. Put simply, they kept their original cap values for the year, but switched the players themselves.)


Though players' contracts are owned by the league, the teams are consulted for the most part when a transfer offer from abroad comes though the league is, technically able to veto them (I think) if the offer is lucrative enough for the league and then pass on a portion of the fee to the club.

Dan Loney's response to your question really sums it up well.

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