Conde Nasty Hardens Choices

God, I'm ashamed of that title.

Sideline Views put me in a lousy mood today, maybe I ought to stop reading them. But, I can't shoot the messenger.

Well, I sort of can, but I'll get to that.

It was really Chris Klein who put me in the bad mood, when he decided to say this about Ty Harden:

I'll try to avoid repeating myself, but no, he did not make a smart business choice, and if this was about money, then the last people on earth who should respect that decision were his former teammates. Forget about where Harden's head is at - as of last week, he is a Private Citizen and his thoughts and feelings are None Of Our Business.

If that hypothetical smart young guy does not have the drive, the desire, and the commitment to make himself great, then yeah, he needs to leave the league. Because he's taking a spot away from a kid who might have that passion.

I don't want to make this about Harden, but there's a reason that he was offered a $17,000 salary. It was because the Galaxy thought he sucked. Every player that gets offered one of those $17,000 salaries are being insulted in some way. That's the going rate for someone who the team does not believe will make a significant contribution. How much should MLS pay for guys in their mid-20's who are only good enough to play in reserve games in front of zero paying customers? That's where Harden was last year at this time.

Turns out, he was good enough to contribute. I don't know what a player actually does in that situation, except maybe hold out. To me, that would be the more honorable option. That would be the move I could see a locker room getting behind. Harden had something to go to, after all. He didn't need to play for peanuts. If it was about the money, but if he still had the same desire that made him a pro to begin with? Hold out for a renegotiation. At least get Robbie Findley money.

The other honorable option, I must point out, is Harden's story at face value. Goodwill is a ridiculously admirable organization, no matter whose father runs it. Harden's not saying he gets a bigger thrill out of being a male secretary or telemarketing. I'm aware of and to a certain extent subscribe to the theory that no work done well is undignified, but there's an awful lot of dignity in working for Goodwill, and I have no trouble buying that someone would get more out of that than kicking a ball. Even kicking a ball to David Beckham.

Which is why I don't get why Klein would insult Harden by saying it's about something besides that, or why Klein would think it would be a compliment, or why other American pros, absolutely none of whom got into the game with any expectation of getting rich, would agree with him.

Go figure jocks, I guess. Except that the sympathy among the reportorial and fannish classes is strong, and growing. I'm a little troubled when Andrea Canales uses the Wilmer Conde situation as proof that players in Harden's lumpenproletarian class are helpless to request trades. No kidding, there are lots of good reasons why the Fire won't just send Conde over to New York out of the goodness of their hearts. Mr. Shirt touched on a few of them.

But Conde's right to play for whom he wishes, and his wisdom in expressing that wish publicly, are not the same issues that Harden was facing. Keep in mind we still have nothing that says Harden was interested in playing for any club, present or future. MLS Laborpocalypse is closer than we think, and if we're using Conde and Harden as poster children for MLS cruelty, the discussion is going to go in two directions - into the iceberg, then into the sea.