A Goodwill to Arms

UPDATE - AP interviews Harden; he's apparently sincere. Best of luck to him.


Sexy Football is making a bunch of roster changes today, but I wanted to zero in on one aspect, where there's been some speculation.

Ty Harden, who played and started 24 games last year, hasn't shown up to work for a while. Speculation is rife. Does he want to play in Seattle? Does he just want to play somewhere a little quieter? The team site hasn't said nothing yet, they're probably hoping to get an allocation out of it. Or, they're leaving him room to change his mind, and don't want to go public until they absolutely have to, which is a move I agree with wholeheartedly.

Since I believe everything I read, I'm going to assume that Harden was lonely in Los Angeles, and wants to take a break before playing elsewhere, and that he was also unhappy about his pitiful salary.

These are all horrible reasons. I'm sure Harden is going to be used as an example of a guy who can't afford to play in MLS. In reality, the opposite is true. Yes, a starting defender should be paid more than a developmental salary, and the MLSPU should say something to that effect the next time they draw up a bargaining agreement. But as a business decision, in this particular case, I'm going to assume that the Goodwill job is still gonna be there in a year or three. If his dad is in a position to give him a six figure job, he's in a position to help him out with food and rent, even in LA. And even in Major League Soccer, there's the potential to make six figures as a starting defender. Seriously, it happens.

As far as the idea that he wants to join the Sounders in 2009 - he's going about it in the worst possible way. Did he really think there was no chance whatsoever that Los Angeles would trade him after this season? Unless he joins the Sounders this season under an assumed name, he's going to show up a year from now at Seattle's training camp a year out of playing form. Yeah, Alexi Lalas got back in the swing of things. Lalas is in the Hall of Fame. Harden's throwing away a year of his career, and he plays a position where experience matters a lot. If he's doing this because he's thinking long-term, he's not thinking. He wasn't in a position to force a trade anywhere, but the Galaxy isn't a completely unattractive place to play. San Jose would have been out of the question, as well? Yallop liked the kid.

And this is something that hasn't sunk in at all with the rest of the Galaxy for some reason, except maybe Ruud Gullit, but here it is again. This isn't the cute little start-up from 1996 anymore. They bring TV cameras to games now. The whole world is watching. This is a monstrously huge opportunity for a player to break out on the world stage. If you're not excited to play in front of people, then why turn pro in the first place?

I think we have to take all this at face value. He doesn't love the game anymore, and he wants to do something else. That would be the only reason this is a good decision for him - but if that is the reason, then it's a very good decision.

If it's about anything else, then he needs to come back.