MLS’s (Just Plain Daffy) Salaries, The Joys of Central Planning

“The more I stare at the list, the more I think the majority of players can fit in either category. Can’t say I understand how Major League Soccer comes up with salary figures, but only that it doesn’t tally.”

With the number of those who have read and commented being roughly equal, I’m confident everyone now knows that the Major League Soccer (MLS) Players Union (MLSPU) has again released player salaries. I wrote the above – and don’t worry if it doesn’t make perfect sense – to wrap a post about the salaries of Colorado Rapids players that don’t add up for me for the Colorado Offside. Embarking on the same project for the Columbus Crew over here, it struck me that I don’t have anything more grand or important to say on the subject that I didn’t put into that quote. I only wish it had been more clever.

That said, there’s so many mysteries to the logic of how MLS pays their players. For instance, why does rookie defender Andy Iro pull down $53.5K guaranteed while a second-year pros like Ryan Junge and Brad Evans earn only $12.9K and $33K, respectively? And that’s without getting into something more mysterious: Adam Moffat, the star of the Crew’s victorious season opener, and a player with one more start under his belt than Iro earns only $17.7K. To spell out a familiar acronym, what the fuck? The fact that the Rapids salary structure makes even less sense only deepens the mystery.

I get the designated-player business all right and believe the salaries of veteran players hinge on free(-ish) market factors ranging from a front office’s idiocy, a player’s attentiveness to his finances, and his agent’s audacity. But things get really messy when a player just comes into the league. I have read, in the past, about why one rookie earns $12.9K; while another earns $17.7K; while still another earns $33K; and, finally, why someone like Iro makes more still: I don’t recall the particulars (help? anyone?). I tried to refresh my memory, but found more mechanics and less figures in MLSnet.com’s rules and regulations web-page. Just when I think it might be the difference between developmental and senior roster players, the Crew’s roster tells me that both Robbie Rogers ($57.5K) George Josten (sharpened stick up the ass…er, $12.9K) are listed as developmental players. Back to that drawing board…but, wait, here’s another: speaking of Rogers, how does that an up-and-comer earn a guaranteed salary a couple thousand dollars smaller than that of the distinctly less-promising Jason Garey? Continue reading

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Crew v. Rapids*: Comparison After Week 1 (Plus, thoughts on the Crew’s win and word of a signing)

(* This project really needs a name – suggestions are 105% welcome.  A five-minute brainstorm yielded “Project Crewpid,” but I think something better is possible.)

I scanned this great sketch of Alejandro Moreno (well…I liked it) and was prepared to post that over a report on the Columbus Crew’s opening day win over Toronto FC.  Turns out I saved the scan as the wrong kind of file, I had too much shit to do yesterday, and there was that weird hangover that hurt my body less than my…my soul, I guess.  So, yeah, the Crew won their opener on the back of goals by Adam Moffat and Alejandro Moreno.  Moffat was most people’s man of the match, which is the point of the leading anecdote: I could draw a decent caricature of Moreno, but couldn’t swing Moffat – so, there you go, Moreno becomes my man of the match.

As for the game itself, it was a good enough win and I liked what I saw generally (though, admittedly, squinting through one eye by the end; where there’s a hangover in the morning, there was a drunk the night before – all y’all know how this works).  And that’s the weird thing – and “the weird” extends to the commentary several of this week’s games: yeah, the Crew won their opener – which seems a rare event, even if may not be (I don’t know) – but keeping the clean sheet required no mean exertion from Will Hesmer.  What I’m getting at, here, is that this was a nice win, but nothing more – so when I see something like where Goal.com placed the Crew in their power rankings, I wonder how I saw so much less than they did. Continue reading

The Crew Attack: Columbus’ Hopes and Options

With the Columbus Crew’s defense preview out of the way, it’s time to turn to the Crew’s offense. Before going any farther, let me just acknowledge one thing: offense and defense don’t separate perfectly in soccer; anyone who has seen Frankie Hejduk blaze down the right side to fire in crosses (of whatever quality) knows this. That said, the discussion below focuses on players for whom offense is the primary responsibility.

Before looking forward, however, let me take a second (or a paragraph) to look back – though, given 2007, I don’t expect Crew fans to feel enthusiasm for joining me. Until the arrival of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the Crew struggled with scoring – and things didn’t so much turn around as improve thereafter. The 2007 Crew would never be mistaken for an offensive power. Most observers point to the absence of a quality forward and, for what it’s worth, I agree with most people. The Crew tried to address this problem in the off-season, but they have so far failed to find their man (thanks for the freakin’ memories, Maciej Zurawski).

Even if they missed out on a high(er)-profile acquisition, the Crew has done some restocking with players on trial like Nigeria’s Emanuel Ekpo and Brazilian Guilherme So; neither player has formally signed with the club, but both were in the works last I read with Ekpo being the closer. There’s also Nicolas Hernandez’s arrival to consider with the question of whether this is “Nico Mark’06” or Nico Mark’07” preceding him. Talk of a couple forwards shipping to Columbus from the Honduran league (Brazilian Jocimar Nascimento and…some other dude) means more reinforcements may yet show.

However all those pan out, what we can all count on is the return of some players, plus signs of promising development for them. The Crew appears as ready as they’re going to get for the 2008 season. The question is whether it’s enough. Continue reading

Columbus Crew 2007 Review: Mid-Summer Mirage

Columbus Crew
Record (W-L-T): 9-11-10; 39 GF; 44 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
Streaks are part of the game. They happen for a lot of reasons – a missing player, bad vibes begetting more bad vibes, etc. And it’s worth suggesting upfront that “bad vibes” seem to have a special attachment to the Columbus Crew, a team that with 2007 missed its third consecutive Major League Soccer (MLS) post-season. Still, for a couple mid-summer months, the Columbus had good reason to believe they would break this jinx.

That brings the discussion back to streaks: Columbus experienced something closer “spells” in 2007. For two happy months – June and July, as it happened – the Crew rose to within one point of DC United for the Eastern Conference lead. Had the players looked down from that mid-summer peak – a little Midwestern Eden, if you will – they would have sighted two blighted valleys extending on either side, where bitter losses followed throw-away draws. Consider this: after picking up a gutsy, “hell-of-a” draw against the New England Revolution on June 16, the Crew went 4-1-1 – that could be 5-1-1 if you count the win over Toronto FC after the All-Star Break. Before this happy period, however, they cooked up a stinking 1-4-6. After, they passed a messy and painful 1-6-3, before wrapping up the season with two useless wins (over good teams…go figure).

Call it a what-the-hell kind of mystery – and, here, memory plays a role. It seemed like a lot of talk during the late summer slump rested on the view that all hope centered on a healthy Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Apparently, such stories grew larger than reality because a review of the record shows Schelotto missed only the month of September. While that certainly didn’t help, it’s worth pointing out that the Argentine played every game in the Crew’s crappy August. Continue reading

NE 1 – 0 Colorado: “You Do This, Tricky Pony!”

 (* The title gets explained all the way down at the bottom.  I bury leads with the best of ’em.)

Not even a late goal could retrieve the game that struck me as the snoozer of Week 26.  Only the most rabid of partisans would call New England’s win over the Rapids anything like just or deserved.  There is justice of a kind in the fact that neither team really gained, though: New England’s performance sends them into the playoffs sailing into the wind, while Colorado looks less like a playoff-bound club with each passing week.

Returning to an old tradition, I watched this one…a little sideways.  Just for the record, fortified wine can come in some surprisingly clever containers.

The stream-of-consciousness “half-dead” blog follows, typed now as I wrote it down then…in a steadily deteriorating hand.  Oh, I use parentheses and, um these thingies – [] where I feel like explanation is necessary.  Here goes: Continue reading