If you’ve been following the potential move of one Real Salt Lake Academy player, Taylor Booth, to FC Bayern Munich, you might be a little dismayed to hear that the player could, in fact, end up signing there.
Kicker, a prominent German outlet, reported the news yesterday.
Surprising or not, this is a move that should evoke lots of emotions for supporters of Real Salt Lake. Is it a good one or a bad one for the club? That depends on any number of factors.
Alright, so we’re looking at losing a player for absolutely nothing — no fee at all. And that seems awfully distasteful for plenty of you, and certainly, it doesn’t seem ideal. Real Salt Lake — or MLS — won’t get the training compensation that makes it so alluring to have an academy that can really produce players.
That training compensation, outlined in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, is payed to the training club by the club with which the player first signs a professional contract, and after each transfer until the season in which they turn 23.
MLS clubs — or any developing club under U.S. Soccer — don’t receive that compensation. That’s the result of an antitrust case, Fraser v. MLS (1996), although it’s constantly a subject of some controversy. It could, at some point, change, but it’s not there now. Until then, RSL gets nothing out of this — and, for that matter, Booth’s other clubs, like La Roca FC, wouldn’t, either.
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I mean, this is a “good” that isn’t absolute, pure good — it’s more a “this is good for some reasons.” After all, what better way is there to really pump up the image of an academy than to illustrate that a player can get to the youth sides of one of the best teams in the world?
If Taylor Booth, a kid from Eden, Utah, can make it to FC Bayern, then the sight of opportunity should become clear for many more players. It’s the sort of thing that can make a monumental difference in how you attract talent.
But beyond attracting existing talent, this could help inspire talent — if kids that would otherwise have not pursued soccer will do so because they see the opportunity, too, then we can increase the player pool in Utah. For every Taylor Booth, there’s another player out there who might not quite make it to that level but could certainly be very good for an MLS team.
Somewhere between the two!
Yeah, this is where my decision rests. There are good things about this — like I said above, this helps fulfill the vision of the academy, though perhaps not financially. Taylor Booth going to Bayern is a Big Deal™, but it’s not the end of the world, either. There will be plenty of players who come and go in our system, and some of them will pan out, and some of them won’t. It’s simply a fact of development.
It’s easy to look at Booth and see a player we’re missing out on, but I needn’t issue a reminder that he’s only 16 — and sure, that’s when some of the best players start down a top-tier professional path, but not all of them make it. I’d argue a small-ish percentage of them end up playing for their first teams. I don’t mean here to say that’s Booth — but we have to be clear-headed about this one. Booth isn’t a finished product, and he isn’t the difference between success and failure for Real Salt Lake.
At any rate, there’s still plenty of time for Booth to land back in Salt Lake City. After all, the last player we lost to a top-tier European team just signed an MLS contract after a year-long loan. If Brooks Lennon has shown us anything, it’s that a player’s chance with this club isn’t likely to just evaporate if they go to Europe.
That said, if we had a chance to sign Booth, we’d have every reason to take it. He’s clearly a very talented young midfielder, and all signs are pointing to him being a rising star for U.S. youth teams. His potential, at this point, knows no bounds. The development onus would be on us at that point, and while I don’t know how exactly it would work out, I’d love to watch it unfold in front of us rather than on a screen in a foreign country.
Will this move actually come to fruition? It’s sure looking likely at this point, but I wouldn’t count the Taylor Booth saga as done and dusted any time soon.