Skip to content

Let’s discuss Juan Agudelo, MLS doctrine and the slippery slope of skewing contracts

Jan 14, 2013, 7:20 PM EST

San Jose Earthquakes v Chivas USA Getty Images

A piece today from Goal.com wonders about Juan Agudelo’s (impending?) transfer to Celtic.

More specifically, Alex Labidou wonders about this business of Major League Soccer losing its young, marketable stars and the potential dent in TV numbers that already look fairly battered. Agudelo, Labidou reckons, is one of the few faces who dwell in the sweet spot of domestic commercialization potential: he’s good enough, savvy enough, young enough and recognizable enough.

True enough that there are not many like the Chivas USA man in MLS, so precious few ready and able to take the baton of domestic marketability from Landon Donovan.

So it’s a fair question, wondering if this move will dim a couple of bulbs that should be shining on MLS?

But there are lots of moving parts here. And they are squeaky parts, too.

First, this is only Major League Soccer’s call to a certain point. If a player is determined to test himself overseas, at some point he’s leaving the MLS nest, like it or not. At some point, the league and club suits can only shrug, get over it and then examine the months or years remaining on contract to gauge the best timing of a sale.

I know where the debate goes from there: “Pay them more and they will stay!”  Again, it’s a fair point, but it’s not that simple.

If you create a system where the best American players understand they can squeeze more than market value from MLS – because they have the league over the marketing and endorsement barrel – you are effectively steering the league down a very dangerous alley.

Don’t forget, MLS tried to do this once before. Everyone got all hot and bothered nine or ten years ago and launched a half-baked initiative to keep the top American talent at home.  (Mostly, they were watching Donovan languish on the Leverkusen bench in Germany and wondering how to keep such a thing from happening again.) That’s why Eddie Johnson was on an $800,000 deal in 2005, following a year where he hit a respectable-but-not-sensational 12 goals. That’s more than double what Chris Wondolowski makes today – and the Earthquakes’ scorer usually gets to the quarter pole of 12 goals before breakfast!

Other contracts for American players got similarly skewed. So, it’s dangerous to dangle too much money on a young player who simply has not proven enough yet. Again, it’s a tough case.

Besides all that, there’s a certain German-born manager in a very, very influential position telling these guys to constantly test themselves.

And isn’t that what most U.S. Soccer supporters want, too?

Like I said, lots of moving parts. There really are no perfect solutions here.

Latest Posts
  1. Klinsmann goes 3-5-2 versus Chile; Shea and Yedlin on the wings

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    @USSoccer @USSoccer

    Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando is between the sticks for the States, and Jermaine Jones continues his time as a center back.

  2. Sheffield United 2-2 Tottenham: Eriksen sees Spurs to All-London final in absolute thriller

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:52 PM EST

    Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    After a thriller at Bramall Lane, Chelsea and Spurs will duke it out on March 1 in their shared home city for the League Cup.

  3. Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Lots will be drawn to determine second place in Group D

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:57 PM EST

    FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH23-CMR-CIV Getty Images

    The lots will be drawn at 10am ET on Thursday. Winner gets Ghana on Feb. 1.

  4. U.S. international Sacha Kljestan signs for New York Red Bulls

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:01 PM EST

    Galatasaray AS v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Huge trade now makes sense as Kljestan arrives in MLS.

  5. Transfer rumor roundup: Cuadrado can join Chelsea for $40 million say Fiorentina

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:39 PM EST

    ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A Getty Images

    With less than a week left in the window, here’s the latest gossip…

  6. Queens Park Rangers’ Canadian winger Junior Hoilett on Toronto FC, relegation battles and more

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Queens Park Rangers v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Toronto native Hoilett chats to PST about MLS, being involved in a Premier League relegation battle and much more in this one-on-one.

  7. English FA charge Chelsea’s Diego Costa with violent conduct after stamp, may miss Man City match

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:28 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL

    Costa could miss Chelsea’s massive clash against Man City on Saturday. All the details, here.

  8. Chelsea sweating on fitness of Cesc Fabregas, plus others, ahead of Manchester City match

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:47 AM EST

    Chelsea v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    Chelsea’s injury problems are piling up ahead of their huge tilt against City this Saturday.

  9. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo handed two-game ban after red card

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:36 AM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-CORDOBA-REALMADRID FBL-ESP-LIGA-CORDOBA-REALMADRID

    After seeing red, Ronaldo will now miss Real’s next two games after ban for violent conduct.

  10. Luis Figo the latest to challenge Sepp Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:10 AM EST

    Draws for UEFA Champions League Draws for UEFA Champions League

    Is Figo the man to take charge of world’s soccer’s governing body?

  11. Men in Blazers podcast: Talking FA Cup upsets with guests Spencer Lanning, Josh Scobee

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:25 AM EST

    meninblazers

    Super Bowl week brings out two NFL players for the latest podcast.

  12. Gareth Bale dismisses Manchester United speculation, happy at Real Madrid

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:55 AM EST

    Gareth Bale Gareth Bale

    Bale tells Spanish radio station that he’s hanging around in the Spanish capital for some time to come.

  13. Analyzing the Impact/Red Bulls deal: Is Kljestan worth losing Alexander?

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:01 PM EST

    New York Red Bulls v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Already it feels like Montreal has a major chance to be the winner in this deal, and that’s before they do anything with the allocation money.

  14. Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup: LVG squashes Januzaj loan, Campbell heads to La Liga

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:05 PM EST

    Januzaj Getty Images

    It certainly wasn’t the wildest of days for the transfer rumor mill, but Manchester United, Southampton and Crystal Palace all said hello.

  15. Rodgers proud of Liverpool in loss, disappointed by Costa’s dirty play

    Jan 27, 2015, 9:12 PM EST

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Surely Brendan Rodgers wouldn’t have been surprised to see Diego Costa’s temper flare up, but it didn’t make him any more understanding.

  16. Report: Arsenal midfielder Zelalem’s U.S. eligibility far from a done deal

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:32 PM EST

    Galatasaray AS v Arsenal FC - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    An ESPN FC report regarding Gedion Zelalem’s U.S. eligibility looks alarming, but is it a cause for concern?

  17. In less than five months, Diego Costa has become Premier League villain No. 1

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:17 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL Getty Images

    He’s heinous. He’s prolific. He’s the Luis Suarez of 2015. And he’s making this season worth watching and hating. Unless you’re a Chelsea supporter.

  18. Chelsea’s Mourinho candid as usual after Liverpool win: “My Ramires is back”

    Jan 27, 2015, 6:21 PM EST

    Chelsea v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Liverpool was the superior team in the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.

Featured video

Top five Premier League goals: Week 22