Skip to content

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

Jan 14, 2013, 7:20 PM EDT

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. Steve Nash — yes, that Steve Nash — registered with NPSL side New York Cosmos B

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Steve Nash

    The Cosmos B can afford to trot out Nash, considering they are 8-0-1 with a plus-34 goal differential under head coach Alecko Eskandarian.

  2. Official: Andrea Pirlo announces his arrival at New York City FC (video)

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    pirlo Getty Images

    Pirlo says an American arrival has been in the cards for a while.

  3. GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:51 AM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Julie Johnston #19 of United States of America celebrates after winning the  FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 final match between USA and Japan at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Plenty more flag-waving winners, emotional players, and post-World Cup couple smooches leap off the Women’s World Cup wire. Shall we look at a few?

  4. With legendary Wambach serving as super sub, the USWNT spun a team title tale

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    USA's head coach Jill Ells (R) celebrate their win over Japan with Abby Wambach after the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 5, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The U.S. women are World Cup champions for the third time thanks to a full team effort that belied its star-first reputation.

  5. CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical”

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:23 AM EDT

    MIAMI BEACH, FL - MAY 27:  FBI agents carry boxes from the headquarters of CONCACAF after it was raided on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. The raid is part of an international investigation of FIFA where nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) Getty Images

    CONCACAF lawyer Sam Gandhi’s tone hits all the right conciliatory notes, something that FIFA has been unable to do it in its response under Sepp Blatter.

  6. Southampton, Atletico Madrid in legal battle over Alderweireld rights as Spurs, City wait

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite the love heaped on Clyne and Ryan Bertrand last season, Alderweireld was perhaps only second to Jose Fonte in the Saints’ defensive performance pecking order.

  7. United States women overcame growing pains to peak when it mattered

    Jul 6, 2015, 3:06 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The U.S. women always said they would peak at the right moment, and they did exactly that.

  8. Set pieces prove to be Japan’s undoing in Women’s World Cup final loss

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Japan came out shockingly flat in the World Cup final, conceding four goals in 16 minutes.

  9. Carli Lloyd proves she’s the Women’s World Cup hero she always knew she would be

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:54 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd said she wanted to be the best in the world. On Sunday, she proved it.

  10. PHOTOS: Celebration abundant on social media following U.S. World Cup win

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:31 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Take a look at the aftermath of the United States’ World Cup win over Japan.

  11. Mission accomplished: Abby Wambach gets her World Cup title

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:03 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Abby Wambach longed for a World Cup title for over a decade. On Sunday, she finally lifted the trophy.

  12. Nani relishing “new opportunity” with move to Turkish club Fenerbahce

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    FBL-POR-LIGA-SPORTING-RIO AVE Getty Images

    Former Manchester United midfielder Nani is prepared for a fresh start in Turkey.

  13. United States wins third Women’s World Cup title, beats Japan on record-smashing day

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:  Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States celebrates scoring the opening goal against Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Carli Lloyd’s hat trick and the United States’ win smashed just about every record in a huge win over Japan in the Women’s World Cup final.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip