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Landycakes resigns and then gets loaned, and Kasey Keller talks lockout

Well when a press conference was set up for Wednesday at the HDC (Home Depot Center) almost everyone thought it would be the official announcement of Landon Donovan's loan to Everton (you know a move that Landycakes criticized last year when Beckham did it), but instead it was the announcement that Landon signed to remain in MLS through the 2013 season.  The 4 year deal is rumored to be worth about 9 million dollars, with a possible 7 figure bonus on the front end.  That means that LA now has two DP's, but since no mention of this has been made it looks like MLS will continue to try to stack the deck for the Galaxy by continuing to use a "grandfather" clause for Landon.

Perhaps a smarter move would be for MLS to take one of two approaches:

  • Eliminate the DP, allow players to be signed for whatever amount but anything over 400K, the league cap has to be paid by the individual team and the 400K counts towards the cap.
  • Double the DP allocations, say that it is clear that 3 of the teams in the 2009 conference finals had DP's and that the program is such a huge success that each team will now have two DP slots.

Of course they will do the easy thing and simply continue to allow LA to break, bend, or disregard the rules whenever they want.  I mean they are so important that the trophy for the MLS Cup was renamed in their owners honor, so how can normal rules apply.

Then today the news that most people expected on Wednesday was announced as Landon will be on his way to Everton on a loan deal, as soon as he can get a work permit.  I love the deal, and think it will be good for Landon but you have to wonder what his teammates are thinking?  Here is a guy who was critical of Beckham going to Milan last year, and now he is doing a similar deal.  Granted the loan arrangement at Everton is only supposed to last until mid March, but that means that Landon will miss the entire preseason with his team.  What are the chances he stays in Liverpool until the EPL season ends (to stay in top shape for the World Cup) on the 9th of May, then he will be off to the USMNT training camp as they get ready for South Africa.  Could it be August before Landon is back in a Galaxy Kit?

Kasey Keller has some thoughts on the CBA:

So you have heard me talk about the CBA a lot in recent weeks, well after the jump there is more news to stir the pot.

So I think a lockout or strike could be the end of MLS, or at least set back the progress of professional soccer in the US a great deal. Well on his official blog Kasey posts a bit about his opinion on the CBA and what MLS players are fighting for and in his opinion deserve. 

That blog post caused one of the soccer writers to do a write up about the post (click here to read the yahoo piece)

So Kasey makes a point that MLS players must sign away some FIFA rights to play here, and I disagree they don't have to, they can chose to play somewhere else.  No player is forced to do anything, they make a choice.

Listen MLS isn't the same as any other soccer league in the world, and trying to think that the US market is ready for the rules to be the same as they are elsewhere is simply shortsighted at best and dishonest at the worst.  In the US soccer is a fringe sport that is struggling to gain a secure foothold, and while Kasey may think that because there are great crowds in Seattle and a ton of people all around town are wearing Sounders gear that it is the case everywhere but it isn't. 

In fact even in Seattle the Seahawks draw much larger crowds, get more merchandise sold, make more in TV revenue.  They average 67,000 per match and sell over 1/2 million tickets a year.  Even baseball sells more tickets than the Sounders (2.2 million in 2009).  Nowhere else in the world does a soccer league have to compete with that, then add in NCAA football and basketball.  MLS is fighting for it's share of a huge pot of sports money in the US, while most leagues around the world get the lions share of that pot.

Kasey also makes the statement that players want an increase in the salary cap, now it may be that they will include that in the new CBA but there was not a single word of a league salary cap in the current CBA.  The big issues for players according to Kasey are:

  • Guaranteed Contracts- I can understand this and to some extent they do have limited guarantees in their current CBA.  I do think there is some middle ground that has to be found, to say that an employeer can't fire an employee is unamerican.  So while a player wants the team to commit to paying them for the entire length of their contract, is the player willing to pay back money for matches they play poorly in?  I can see both sides of this issue but I can't understand why an agreement somewhere inbetween the two extremes can't be found.
  • Free Agency & Right to negotiate with other MLS teams- Great point Kasey, but who owns your contract?  It isn't Seattle, it is MLS.  So you want MLS to grant you free agency to resign with MLS?  I am sorry but with the current structure of the league (which I believe has to change), things like Free Agency and players and agents trying to negotiate with other league teams seems like something that would be mired in controversy.  I think the example of LA is one where so many exceptiosn have been made nobody knows what the rules are anymore, can you imagine a situation where a player files to be a free agent and then tries to get the league to pay them more money, what would be the upside for the league?

I know there are many complex issues in the CBA, but after watching Kasey spend hours talking to the media during the All Star week, and during the MLS Cup I have grown to have a huge amount of respect for him but I am really confused by players who want teams to guarantee their contracts but they at the same time want the ability to leave and negotiate with other teams and leagues.  

For me a lot of the issues that I believe the players have come down to one body (MLS) controlling all the contracts and while I think that has to change for the long term success of the league, I just don't see it happening yet and I sure don't see it being part of the CBA.  The league has to understand that they do have an obligation to treat their players with more respect and fairness, but the players have to understand they are playing in a league that is not anywhere near the leagues of Europe.