The CBA: Can MLS Wait Until…um…Till…um…Then?

…is it 2009 that Major League Soccer (MLS) keeps saying they’ll re-work the collective bargaining agreement with the MLS Players’ Union? 2010? Does it matter? It’s like Jon from the DC United Offside said in his post about DC-draftee Andrew Jacobson bypassing MLS to sign with France’s Lorient:

“Eddie Pope, take notice. Raise the salary floor or this league will get older, and worse.”

It’s not all on Eddie, of course. The idea that the league needs to stop shopping for answers up its own ass is becoming apparent to plenty of people. One almost has to wonder if Frank Dell’Appa got wind of Jacobson’s hop to France ahead of writing his piece for ESPN on MLS accidentally becoming an export league. Dell’Appa’s article mainly explores how MLS’s comparatively low salary cap inherently disadvantages it against the rest of the world – with an apt emphasis on the Taylor Twellman situation – but he ends with the list of solid, young-ish MLS pros who punched tickets to Europe during the current offseason:

“If Chris Gbandi is transfered from FC Dallas to Haugesund in Norway, as expected, this week, he will be the 10th MLS player to move to Europe this month, following Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin), Andy Dorman (St. Mirren), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Nate Jaqua (SC Rheindorf Altach), Clint Mathis (Ergotelis FC), Joseph Ngwenya (SK Austria Karnten), Pat Noonan (Aalesund FK), Troy Perkins (Valerenga) and Johnson. Of those players, only Johnson produced a significant transfer fee, and Dorman, Goodson, Jaqua, Mathis, Ngwenya and Noonan departed on free transfers.” Continue reading

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The Nut of the Crew’s Striker Search

The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mithcell takes the Columbus Crew’s quest for Maciej Zurawski to the “real” newspaper today, providing impressive detail on where things stand. The apparent pivot point in this deal shows in the following:

“How much Celtic is asking for the transfer and how much Zurawski is asking to be paid has not been made public, although it is estimated that both figures would be between $250,000 and $1 million.”

“McCullers would not divulge any dollar amounts related to the deal, including how much ownership was willing to spend. He said only that Hunt Sports Group was treating the situation in a ‘prudent’ fashion.”

And, it bears noting, Mitchell quotes Columbus coach Sigi Schmid as being “not as optimistic” about the deal as he was a couple days back.

That little slug of information prompts a couple related questions? First, is Zurawski worth as much as $1 million to the Crew? (Or is it $2 million? With all due respect to both Mitchell and the editorial staff at the Dispatch, the language on the money involved isn’t as clear as it could be; would “both” mean the combined figures for the transfer fee and Zurawski’s salary amount to $1 million, or does that mean each of them would total between $250K and $1 million? This isn’t a slam – I’m sure I post baffling language five times a day – but it is a significant distinction.) Second (after the long digression), should the Crew just suck it up and take the chance?

With the “other designated player options” cited by McCullers duly noted, I’d pull the trigger – assuming a $1 million total; push it to $2 million and the other options take on a fresh, new shine. Simply put, the Crew needs strikers. And, if they’re convinced Zurawski is good for it, they should just sign the man.

(UPDATE: For what it’s worth, MLS Rumors is charging Sigi with coyness…albeit very indirectly.  By that I mean, they’re reporting the Zurawski signing as a done deal.  We shall see…we shall see…).

MLS PHILLY MOVES CLOSER!! Still not certain, but we’ll see Thursday!

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Don Garber, sign us up! All signs are pointing to us getting the $45 million now… Sons of Ben – I want to hear from you on this – any info on Thursday’s event?

NOTHING IS CERTAIN. But unfortunately, my hopes are now officially up.

Gomez to Colorado: “It’s Going to Happen” (and Houston gets a ‘keeper…)

Tucked in a bunch of other player movement items, Goff effectively buries the lead…at least so far as Colorado Rapids fans are concerned. Citing a “source with knowledge of a possible trade” Goff reports now-former DC United midfielder Christian Gomez’s move to the Colorado Rapids only waits on the blessing.

So, what will this do for Colorado? Well, here’s the team Gomez will join. Suppose the first question is, who’s he going to feed? Conor Casey and Herculez Gomez? Omar Cummings and Nico Hernandez? Some other permutation of those players? What happens to Jovan Kirovski, who has set up on the field where I’d expect the Rapids to use Gomez?

Waiting on the answer, at least through preseason, seems wiser right now than guessing. At the same time, Gomez’s arrival seems likely to kick one of last year’s regulars down to the bench, if not off the roster; Hernandez, who labored through 2007, seems a likely candidate.

Obviously, that’s a load of speculation. The one thing I know: things look like they’re getting interesting in Colorado…finally.

One last related point – and this one is for DC United fans. I’ve seen some fans/bloggers play out an upcoming game on one of the FIFA video game systems. Last night, my wife and I did a variation on that in a rummy (cards) game we call “Olkatana”…because we can’t remember whether Hoyle calls the game Oklahoma or Montana. I played as Marcelo Gallardo and she as Gomez. “Gallardo” started strong on the first hand before Gomez took over the game in a most relentless fashion; “lopsided” only begins to describe the final score. If you’re disposed to believe such things, that’s one grim omen for DC’s 2008.

– Elsewhere, the Houston Dynamo signed a backup ‘keeper this morning: Tony Caig. The noise you hear, which sounds like a gentle breeze blowing, is actually the tail-end of the sigh of relief issuing from Martek over on Nutmegged.

OK, one last order of business. I’ve mentioned finding/receiving weird/funny/gross crap on the Web. I’ve decided to just add it as a find it…like this “ode” to our first president George Washington. I’ve seen this enough times that I’ve almost committed it to memory and the bit with the bear still makes me laugh.

Can anyone stop Adebayor? Fulham sputters…

1. Newcastle’s defense certainly couldn’t – they almost looked like they needed Oguchi Onyewu who played pretty poorly on loan with them about a year ago.

2. Not even his own teammates can stop him – and as you saw, Nicklas Bendtner tried.

What many people forget is that Adebayor was not a high-profile signing. Sure he helped Monaco reach the Champions League final in 2004, but it wasn’t scoring goals at the rate he is right now. The Gunners dispatched Kevin Keegan’s pet project Newcastle in yet another 3-0 romp. Adebayor started off the scoring – his 9th in his last 7 appearances and 19th overall. All that he’s done has prompted Cesc Fabregas to go all man-love on him with Arsene Wenger unleashing the praise as well. Mathieu Flamini and Cesc himself scored the other two goals.

In other action…

Sunderland 2, Birmingham 0

New signing Rade Prica made the difference for Roy Keane. Put in for a struggling Dwight Yorke, Prica pounced on a chance with 30 minutes to go, effectively putting a come-back out of the reaches of the Blues. Daryl Murphy started off the scoring, however, as the Black Cats move 3 points out of relegation. 20-year old Argentinian Mauro Zarate got his first minutes for the Blues, coming on for Cameron Jerome in the 66th minute.

Fulham 0, Bolton 0

The Cottagers had a prime chance to grab three much-needed points. Eddie Johnson was not eligible as paperwork is still being processed, but Clint Dempsey was there and Carlos Bocanegra came on late for new signing Leon Andreasen. It was even through the first half, but with about thirty minutes to go it became Bolton’s game. Fulham’s new defensive hires Andreasen and Brede Hangeland held their own though – helping to stave off a last second defensive lapse (which has been the Fulham trademark this season). Dempsey hasn’t hit the back of the net in over a month. Hopefully the added extra American influence can pick his game back up.

Middlesbrough 1, Wigan 0

An early goal from Jeremie Aliadiere (who doesn’t score much to begin with) proved to be the decider as Boro held off relegation battlers Wigan. I’m sure many were expecting a severely depleted back four with the loss of Jonathan Woodgate to Tottenham, but it held remarkably well (for now). That is certainly not saying that Wigan didn’t have their chances. Marlon King found himself free a couple times with Emile Heskey doing his best to resurrect his productive days. Ultimately, if Boro is going to keep surviving – Afonso Alves is needed up front with Tuncay and they need to make Stewart Downing happy (which isn’t going to happen, to Tottenham maybe?). I have lost interest in Wigan’s relegation fight; their demotion is foregone conclusion to me.

My Connection (+ Comment to a promotion/relegation debate)

I have written witty comments to comments others have left down below as well as typing out something for the relegation/promotion debate posted on Nutmegged.  None of these appear to have gotten through.  Why, you ask?  I suspect it’s because my connection to the larger Web-world eats balls – often and eagerly, judging by the overall situation.

The witty comments to others’ comments may, sadly, be lost forever (sigh).  But, stubborn cuss that I am, I’m  posting a thumbnail version of my contribution to the promotion/relegation thing here; general posting seems to be working and I don’t know how that is…apart from pointing to my connection’s continued fondness for eating balls.

OK, before getting into it, let me just say this: I might prefer promotion/relegation, but I have also learned to live without it quite comfortably.  That said, if we really want to make it work in the States, here’s a suggestion: make the entire professional soccer set-up in the United States single-entity.  That’s a knee-jerk response to the problem of getting people to invest in a sport/league that is relatively new and, in all probability, still not profitable in the pan-organizational sense.  The idea is to make eating the losses that would hit an investor/owner of a relegated team less an individual risk than a collective one.  And you sweeten the pot by having higher caps, television revenues, etc. for the top flight.  Somehow someone will make money, right?  I mean, that’s why people dump money into this now, right?

Frankly, I’m still shocked that people invest in MLS under the single-entity model.  I don’t know how the individual operators get revenue out of the set-up.  Still, that’s my idea.  But, like I said, I’ve adjusted to life without.