Last week, a bit of a kerfuffle emerged between Major League Soccer and the Cameroonian federation, FECA Foot, centering around exciting left back Ambroise Oyongo, who had just been traded from New York to Montreal. Real Salt Lake, having gone through the Carlos Salcedo deal last month, can still learn plenty from this latest fiasco.
We won't give you a full rundown of the situation, but to recap: Oyongo was on loan at New York from Cameroonian side Rainbow Bamenda (a great name if we've ever heard one), then New York said they bought Oyongo's contract this year. Then, Oyongo was sent to Montreal for the top allocation spot in the move to acquire Sacha Kljestan. From there, Oyongo failed to turn up for Montreal, and they were holding him in breach of contract. The details from there are hazy and confusing, but Once a Metro does a good job of covering it.
We're not here to adjudicate on the matter — and even if we were, we'd do a poor job of it — but we can look at it and see what Real Salt Lake could learn from the whole thing.
Do right by players
By (apparently) acquiring Oyongo's playing rights (or not, depending on who you believe), then trading him weeks later, New York didn't do that one thing Real Salt Lake management often talks about: 'do right by players'. By not just trading him, but trading him shortly after making a significant gesture to keep him at the club, they've acted in a way that doesn't keep the player's best interests at heart.
When Real Salt Lake traded Nat Borchers to Portland Timbers, it was understood that he was interested in going there — it wasn't an unwilling trade, even if he would have preferred staying in Salt Lake City. The same can be said for Will Johnson, Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola, and plenty of others over the years. Even the Carlos Salcedo situation, as hairy as it was, saw the player going to the club where he wanted to go — he wasn't just unwittingly traded to LA Galaxy, for instance.
Be judicious and firm with player contracts
Contractual stability in MLS is a tricky thing, but I'm of the opinion that there's nothing illegal under FIFA law about the collective bargaining agreement setting up the ability of MLS to control players and their playing rights. Regardless, loan deals with foreign clubs can be tricky, and players' understandings of loan contracts with MLS can be even trickier. After all, they're contracted with MLS, not the club, but one might imagine that player agents and advisers could be communicating that as a mere technicality and not as a meaningful contractual requirement. Communicating those details should be important during all stages of the process, and it should be clear that players at least have a working understanding of their contracts.
Don't just make wild swings in the transfer market
We call it the transfer market, but really, it's more of an MLS-only emporium that's made this trickier than the usual transfers between clubs. After all, in MLS, they're not even really transfers between clubs, but rather re-assignments of playing rights orchestrated and sanctioned by the league. When New York made a move to obtain Sacha Kljestan, they were forced to rather quickly toss their planning away. While there's an inevitable quality to that with the allocation order, the timing was more than just unfortunate: It cast a player's career into disarray. That sort of thing, quite frankly, shouldn't fly.