Skip to content

Philadelphia wants to pay Maurice Edu seven figures; MLS is not so sure

Jan 15, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

Portrait of US player Maurice Edu taken Getty Images

A $1.2 million salary in U.S. sports makes you a middle class athlete, at best. In Major League Soccer, however, it’s a big deal. When the players union made its biannual release of wage data last September, only nine players were making seven figures. Major League Soccer millionaires are still relatively rare, especially compared to the other big four sports.

That’s the context for today’s report from ESPNFC, the outlet reporting that Major League Soccer is pushing back against Philadelphia’s desire to make Stoke City’s Maurice Edu the league’s next millionaire. According to Jeff Carlisle’s sources, the Union want to give Edu in the neighborhood of $1.2 and $1.4 million dollars per year, a number that would likely put him in the league’s top 12 earners at the start of the season.

Last September, the millionaire’s list was made up of Clint DempseyThierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Tim Cahill, Landon Donovan, Marco Di Vaio, Obafemi Martins, Danny Koevermans, and Kenny Miller. Even when you take Koevermans out (not returning to Toronto) and add Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, and Omar Gonzalez to the list, MLS’s Millionaires Club is still rarefied air. Edu’s salary would slot in right above Miller’s who made around $1.1 million last season for Vancouver.

But why should MLS care? It’s probably best to let them explain (if the move ever happens), but if you’re a league that wants to keep bringing U.S. talent back to North American teams, overpaying early in the game could lead to a lot of lost money down the road. Not everybody can argue they deserve Bradley or Dempsey money, but Maurice Edu is a borderline national-teamer, a distinction that’s shared by a number of Jose Torres, Brek Shea, and Sacha Kljestan-esque talents. If the Edu contract means the price to bring those players home climbs into the millions, it may not be an example MLS wants to set.

There has to be a happy medium. MLS wants to present itself as a better option than most mid-tier destinations in Europe, but they can’t be so stingy that mid-table clubs in Greece, Turkey, Belgium or Holland can offer better deals. While a sub-million dollar contract is unlikely to convince a player to turn his back on his chances with bigger clubs, MLS doesn’t want players leaving North America for just any European opportunity. Unless you’re going to one of the top 20 or 25 clubs in Europe, MLS should be able to offer talented North American players a viable alternative, the thinking goes.

Unfortunately, the stalemate leaves a series of questions, all of which hint at the continuing evolution of MLS’s rules (“evolution” being a euphemism, for some). If MLS is unwilling to sanction a $1.2 million salary for Edu, what is the right number? Is MLS’s front office really the right entity to be making those decisions, and if so, could those decisions end up keeping some U.S. internationals away from the league?

source: AP

Clint Dempsey’s move back to MLS bypassed allocation. Maurice Edu’s will not. (Photo: AP.)

That all comes down league preference. Unfortunately, the million-plus figure being linked with Edu also points to a more definable league conflict. When Clint Dempsey came back to Major League Soccer, we were told some players go through allocation, others come straight to teams, and the Designated Player process was one of the mechanisms for making that distinction. Michael Bradley didn’t come back through allocation. He was a DP signed by Toronto.

Whether he makes $750,000, $1 million, or $1.2 million, Edu will likely be a Designated Player. So what is Philadelphia doing trading up in the allocation order? Shouldn’t they be able to sign Edu and bypass allocation by virtue of the Designated Player rule?

Apparently not. Some speculation says this comes down to the league’s role in facilitating the move (Dempsey’s transfer fee was covered by the league; it’s assumed Bradley’s was also subsidized). Perhaps Edu was merely tagged for allocation before Philadelphia started position themselves to acquire him. While there are explanations, there aren’t without inconsistencies – conflicts that only seem to be addressed after the moves are made.

When Clint Dempsey came back to Major League Soccer, I bought what we were told. Designated Player not going through allocation? Okay. I see why people are upset, but it’s plausible. Sure, it feeds the conspiracy theorists, but tinfoil gonna tinfoil, right?

Admittedly, in light of what we’re hearing about Edu, I feel a little naive. A player is going through allocation, even though he’s a Designated Player. Is it plausible? Sure, if we add the “did MLS help” standard, but the more post hoc justification we get, the more it seems that each scenario is judged by a complete different standard. Some outcomes just happen to look like others.

If that’s the case, I’ve got no problem with it. Welcome to life in an 18-year-old league. New situations arise, the league makes decisions, and life goes on. It’s less an issue of transparency than a league coming to grips with its new identity, one that’s trying to spur a period of rapid maturation.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens to Edu, but at this point — whether he comes back to MLS; whether he’s a Designated Player; whether he goes through allocation — it’s another opportunity for our 18-year-old league to mature.

Latest Posts
  1. CONCACAF Champions League: Toluca escapes Estadio Azul with 0-0, opening leg draw

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    marco_fabian AP

    Mexico’s top two teams reach halftime of their two-legged final, with leg two kickoff next Wednesday in Toluca.

  2. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Week 6

    Apr 15, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    javier_morales_kyle_beckerman AP

    The top four remain unchanged, while Houston, New England, and Portland make big shifts on this week’s chart.

  3. Video: Remembering the Hillsborough disaster, 25 years later

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

    anfield AP

    Thoughts from NBCSN’s analysts as will as footage from Rodgers’, Martínez’s speeches at Anfield.

  4. ProSoccerTalk MLS Team of the Week – Week 6

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    federico_higuain AP

    Three LA Galaxy players join two members of the Columbus Crew in our Best XI.

  5. Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can finish in the top four

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Gunners go back into the top four, but can they hold off Everton?

  6. Survey: Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic among top five highest paid athletes in the world

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    Will Ronaldo win his first-ever Champions League title with Real Madrid this season? AP

    Four soccer players rank amount the world’s top 25 earners.

  7. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Giancarlo Gonzalez’s dive draws MLS’s attention

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

    eddie_johnson_giancarlo_gonzalez AP

    Columbus’s Costa Rican international is the latest player to donate to MLS Works.

  8. Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United: Podolski double puts Gunners back in the win column (video)

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    lukas_podolski Getty Images

    The Gunners overcame a Matt Jarvis opener to take their second win of the season from the Irons.

  9. Report: Tottenham Hotspur want Jurgen Klopp as new boss

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Borussia Dortmund's coach Klopp waves to supporters at the end of their Champions League quarter final first leg soccer match against Malaga in Malaga

    Klopp to take over at White Hart Lane?

  10. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Clint Dempsey

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT

    Dempsey's six goals in four games (three starts) are tops in Major League Soccer, putting him one ahead of Chivas USA's Erick Torres. (Credit: AP Photos) AP

    Last week’s hat trick couldn’t snare our honor, but two goals in Dallas made the Sounder star this week’s best player.

  11. Soccer helping to bring together Syrian children in refugee camp

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

    Photothek Getty Images

    A story from The Daily Beast deals with many obstacles faced by the girls, including some prevailing belief that they shouldn’t even watch sport, let alone play soccer.

  12. Watch Live: Arsenal vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Discuss)

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    Wojciech Szczesny AP

    The Gunners and Hammers are putting some London derby bragging rights on the line this evening at the Emirates Stadium live on NBCSN and online NBC Sports Live Extra

  13. Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. West Ham United

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    West Ham last took a point from Arsenal in an October 2009 draw, and hasn’t beaten the Gunners since an April 7, 2007 win at the Emirates.

  14. On anniversary of Boston Marathon attack, video details Reis’ heroics

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Columbus Crew v New England Revolution Getty Images

    MLSSoccer.com’s “MLS Insider” series brings a strong video on the anniversary of Matt Reis’ heroics at the Boston Marathon bombing.

  15. WATCH: Roberto Martinez’s stirring speech at Hillsborough memorial

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    His speech was equal parts soccer fan, Merseyside resident and fixture in the game.

  16. Inter Milan player produces a historically-scummy bit of gamesmanship

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    UC Sampdoria v FC Internazionale Milano - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s say you’re dating your ex-teammate’s ex-wife and spend a lot of time with his kids. What’s a super scummy idea before your team plays his?

  17. Lambert’s seat grows hotter as top Villa assistants relieved of duties

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT

    Reading v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Former Villa player Gordon Cowans and current back-up keeper Shay Given have been “temporarily promoted.”

  18. Striking images from the Hillsborough 96 memorial service

    Apr 15, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT

    @DavidBondBBC on Twitter @DavidBondBBC on Twitter

    Images from around Twitter, covering the 25th anniversary memorial to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

  19. Cristiano Ronaldo to miss Copa del Rey final versus Barcelona

    Apr 15, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    Atletico won last year’s edition, with Barca topping the tourney in 2012 and Real claiming the crown in 2011. Who do you have winning the Copa del Rey?

Featured video

Week 34: Sunday Recap