Daily Sweeper, 09.05: Ivan Gazidis’ Shame; More USOC; Bradley; WUSA

– I’m a little shocked at how few people picked up on the wholesome whack-job on Major League Soccer’s Developmental Contracts that Kristian Dyer wrote for ESPN. Then again this is kinda old news, so maybe that’s it. At any rate…

A good place to begin is looking at some details I didn’t know about regarding how those contracts are structured:

“The contract, in part, holds that the player will be paid at the ‘rate of $1,075 per month gross of taxes’ from March 1 to Dec. 31. In addition, the contract spells out incentives that can be earned as follows:

“1. MLS team 75 percent start: $5,000 if you start in 75 percent or more of the MLS league season games (including MLS regular-season and playoff games but not including the U.S. Open Cup or other tournaments) of the MLS team to which you are assigned.”

“2. MLS All-Star: $5,000 if you are named to the official MLS All-Star team.”

“3. MLS Rookie of the Year: $5,000 if you are selected as the official MLS Rookie of the Year.”

Sit down for a second to figure out what that means (yeah, I know we’ve all done this before…bear with me): I’m not 100% certain what the phrase “gross of taxes” means (a little help would be appreciated), but multiplying that basic number by 10 months yields a total of $10,750 (put away yer wallets, boyos! I’m buyin’!!); worse, it takes only a cursory look at those incentives to realize that #1 applies to a small number of players, a player will earn #2 when pigs learn to fuck like eagles in mid-air, and #3, the likeliest of the bunch, applies at a ratio of 1:(to the size of the entire developmental player pool, plus a couple others). Those aren’t incentives; they’re insults. Don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t know about those before…maybe I was blocking them out to avoid the vague hints of guilt.

But there’s one detail I did know, something I’ve read a dozen times before it finally sunk in like it did today. Here’s the familiar response to this state of affairs from Ivan Gazidis, the deputy commissioner of MLS:

“It’s clearly not about the money, but many young players clearly believe it’s an opportunity they wish to take — so they see something in it. The salaries are comparable to those in minor league baseball or the NBA development league and are at levels that were proposed to us by the MLS Players’ Union in the context of our collective bargaining and agreed to by us.”

I’ve read and digested this plenty of times and never understood it for what it was: the shabbiest of dodges, a statement that, yeah sure, it’s borderline immoral…but they said yes…and, look, minor league baseball players and dudes from the NBA take it up the poop-chute just like our guys so, hey, it’s OK. The essential sentiment behind that – “it is what it is” – is only acceptable when you or the persons with whom you’re associated have no power to change the situation; that doesn’t remotely apply to Gazidis. The man should be ashamed to hide behind that sort of coward’s logic.

Dyer addresses this notion here, even if nowhere near forcefully enough for my liking:

“Make no mistake about it, for every Beckham and Blanco, there is a [Jay] Needham-type player who keeps MLS afloat.”

That should read “for every Beckham and Blanco, there are 10 Jay Needham-type players. But Dyer correctly points out that those “Jay Needman players” are MLS. They should be paid like it – and it shouldn’t take the next round of labor negotiations for gigantic tools like Gazidis to do the right thing by the league’s newest players. The excuse that the league can’t afford to pay more went out the window with the establishment of the designated-player rule, even if for somewhat non-linear reasons – i.e. while 100 “Jay Needhams” could never match Beckham as a marketing vehicle, Beckham “the vehicle” absolutely relies on those same 100 players to form the teams in the league he’s promoting.

– Like a few of you, I’m still processing the meaning of the U.S. Open Cup results, but the big one in my universe is this: this gives the New England Revolution yet another shot at winning the clubs first-ever trophy – an incredible thought given how long they’ve been strong. And, I should point out that some folks enjoyed last night’s FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders semifinal quite a bit more than I did; at least one guy positively reveled in it. What can I say? I’m bald and it’s making me pissy…

– Jeff Bradley penned an ode to tomorrow night’s Thursday Night Soccer match-up, which will send DC United across the U.S. of A. to take on Chivas USA. I’m posting this mainly because I forgot Bradley even existed till about an hour ago…but he does a good job of hyping the game.

– Finally, it looks like a go for a new professional women’s league, at least when 2009 rolls around. I have no smart-ass comment to make and sincerely do wish the league and its players nothing but success and riches…well, I will say my introduction to the word/acronym “FUPA” makes me hope they relaunch under any acronym but WUSA…just not the association I want to make…

I will feel some guilt for neglecting to cover that league (maybe we can find someone to do so for the site when the time comes?), but, in my defense, will only ask that the women’s league get in line behind all those other leagues I ignore.

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