By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Feb 19, 2013) US Soccer Players - In Tuesday's column, Tony wonders how MLS and USL teams will work their loan arrangements, asks if anything else can happen at Chivas USA,and examines Portland coach Caleb Porter's postgame comments.
How does the new MLS-USL Pro agreement change the way USL Pro teams sign players?
When a team has a limited budget, they need to plan their roster. So if you're a USL-Pro team with an exclusive arrangement with an MLS club (such as DC and Richmond or Kansas City and Orlando), you need to know which players you're getting so you don't go out and sign players who are just going to sit.
DC United wisely included Richmond's coach, Leigh Cowlishaw, in some of its preseason training. That serves two purposes. Cowlishaw gets an idea of what Ben Olsen and staff have in mind for 2013 and he’s seen the players that might be heading his way in a few weeks. This way, when Cowlishaw is out trying to sign players, he doesn't sign a right fullback, only to have DC send him a right fullback they expect to get the bulk of game minutes.
This agreement still means the bulk of DC's roster isn't playing in games that count on any weekend. The four players DC loans to Richmond will develop and get better, the rest of the players on the roster who aren't starters or key reserves will spend time competing for a spot.
How many players does Chivas USA have on its roster after this weekend's trade of James Riley to DC United?
Eighteen, but one of those is Shalrie Joseph, who has been on trial with other MLS teams and is clearly not in the club’s plans. This past weekend, James Riley answered a question honestly about assurances given to him by Chivas USA about his role in the upcoming season. Next thing he knew, he's on the other side of the country playing for Ben Olsen.
It's a business, an entertainment business at that. Relationships build business. If you think your club is bigger than the League or can somehow game the system (when the same game has failed miserably in the past), good luck with that.
What statistic puts paid to the statement that the salary cap ensures parity in MLS?
That only 12 teams have been to MLS Cup. A salary cap league is supposed to reward teams with intelligent management who can sign and retain better players while managing the rest of the roster churn. That it's actually more difficult to break into the elite in a cap league than it is in league that doesn't have a hard cap is a fact conveniently ignored by those who have a stake in selling the 'every team has a shot' storyline.
Being willing to spend some money never hurts either. All the great clubs in MLS history have had elite players, and being willing to retain those players has been the key to maintaining excellence.
Is Portland Coach Caleb Porter possibly putting too much emphasis on drawing a preseason home game against San Jose?
You'd think so if you just read his quotes after the Timbers' 3-3 draw against San Jose in Portland.
“We want teams to have to deal with us, and San Jose had to deal with us,” Porter said.
This is where context is important, and fortunately, the video of Porter saying that last sentence provides it. He was much more subdued than his quotes might have indicated and the first thing he said was that Portland didn't win.
For all Porter's talk about how good Portland is going forward, the relative importance of the game was highlighted by the fact that, for a 15 or so minute stretch in the second half, the San Jose backline was Dan Gargin, Nana Attakora, Ty Haden, and Justin Morrow. Still, to be fair to Porter, Portland drew 14,000 people to an exhibition game. That he wanted to talk positives is entirely understandable.
When is the League going to make its 2013 roster rules public?
This page could use an update. There's little doubt in my mind that the teams in the League know what the salary cap is and what tweaks have come to the roster rules. With the League counting down to opening weekend, it might be nice to let the rest of us in on it.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.