Escape from the Commonwealth

Oh, I see how it works, Fire fans. When Brian McBride wants to pick his team, MLS rules don't apply, but when Wilman Conde wants to play for the team of his choice, he's the Mayor of S*it-Out-of-Luck City. Nice job, hypocrites.

("Dear Idiot: Conde SIGNED a CONTRACT, and McBride is OUT OF CONTRACT. Does this FINE DISTINCTION somehow ESCAPE YOU? It's one thing to be the mayor of S*it-Out-of-Luck City, it's another to live there and not even know your ZIP code. Die in our team's nickname.")

If I were Dictator of Soccer, I'd send Bocanegra back to Chicago, and McBride back to Columbus. McBride just belongs in a Crew jersey, and Bocanegra belongs in a Fire jersey. Bocanegra also, in my opinion, has unfinished business from MLS Cup 2003. Yes, I realize that the only reason McBride belongs in a Crew jersey is because the Chicago Rhythm didn't take the field in 1998. And yes, Curt Flood and Marc Bosman and Abraham Lincoln and such. McBride paid his time as an MLS serf, so as a genuine free agent he's allowed to pick his....wait, Toronto has first dibs?

I'm a little surprised there isn't a little more sympathy for San Jose. I'm something less than the biggest John Doyle fan in the state, but it's hardly his fault that Peguero got hurt almost immediately. But since San Jose has no more claim on McBride than Toronto, we'd still be in the same situation.

I cannot get upset at Toronto over this, not in the slightest. They didn't make our league's silly rules. As long as MLS puts these kinds of silly rules on its teams, it's right and proper for Toronto to hold a division rival hostage. Even if TFC doesn't want or need McBride, they have every right to pretend they do, in order to get a better price. What are they supposed to do, let Chicago improve? That's not in the interest of TFC or its fans. If the situation was reversed, and Chicago is at the top of the allocation list when Owen Hargreaves wants to return home [laugh track], Fire fans would go completely Harriet if they just rolled over.

Yeah, I can understand how McBride might be a little confused as to how his rights are owned by a team that didn't exist when he left the league. If McBride were less of a professional, he'd already have come out and pulled a John Elway on TFC's Baltimore Colts*, but Mo Johnston knows perfectly well McBride isn't that kind of troublemaker. The correct and proper outcome is that Toronto stays at the head of the allocation line (unless you think San Jose belongs back there, which apparently nobody does), McBride goes to Chicago, and everyone lives happily ever after - even Wilman Conde.

Actually, the right and proper outcome is that since the salary cap is enough of a hindrance, teams should be able to scout who they want and sign who they can. I'd forgotten there was such a thing as an allocation list - it wasn't as if twelve teams were blackmailing the Galaxy for the rights to Carlos Pavon last year. (Although in retrospect, that may have been more about Pavon than the rules.)

*I apologize for this. It's ponderous and disgraceful when writers reference events that are decades out of date, but I have a theory that things that seem important or exciting in your early teens never stop seeming important or exciting. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about the next Thompson Twins album.