ESPN's Hush on MLS' Import/Export Model

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by Geneva, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. CommonSense

    CommonSense Member

    Jul 12, 2006
    Portland
    Really, there's more and better talent coming in. Noonan, Jaqua, Dorman, Goodson, Mathis. These are good players, but not worth the salaries they demanded, point blank period. If Noonan and Jaqua can make double playing in Austria or Norway, more power to them. Jaqua has been a journey man tall "soccer" player on the wing, and at forward. Never doing anything until Houston. He's EASILY replacement (rumors have it they've found a mid-20s South American already, and are still on the market).

    Ngwenya was a bad loss, he has a great future. The salary cap certainly needs to go up, so we can hold on to more young, up-coming talent, not hold on to over-priced players towards the end of their career that can earn much higher wages. EJ needed to go abroad. He'll either shine, and be a great example of the talent that can come from the league, or be average and return home to be horribly inconsistent in MLS again.

    I think DCU's additions are great. (young talent, old talent, AND keeping Gomez and Moreno in the league). NER added a mid-20s Honduran and are looking at two more Costa Rican internationals in their mid 20s. Rocha could be another great find by FC Dallas. We're getting looks from aging stars with more storied careers than the outgoing players for a lesser price. Some of the Americans IN Scandinavian leagues, St. Pauli, BACK. We're never going to retain all of our talent, it's reality. Given the reluctance of MLS to part with American talent through the transfer market, it's just plain smart to take opportunities in Scandinavia if you have larger European aspirations. As long as we're able to import talent, a combination of South Americans and proven 30s talent I think the balance will be just fine.

    Seriously, go look at the thread with the actual numbers. We've already imported more talent and there's going to be quite a few more additions. We're doing just fine, and I think the quality of the league will improve again this year.
     
  2. The Blind Pig

    The Blind Pig Member

    Jul 14, 2005
    Section 8
    This should be the point that should be beaten into the fans, owners, and players heads.

    Don't sign with MLS.

    They pay nothing, play elsewhere. They'll give you something to live on and work towards retirement.

    MLS *is* backing itself into a corner. They can get out of it, but that's their decision.

    Are they going to become the NASL 2.0 or become a real league? One that actually has a middle class.
     
  3. Matt12

    Matt12 Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Trondheim
    Club:
    Rosenborg BK
    It seems some of you think that because the european leagues are older they had more time to develope and there for they naturaly shud hav more money or whatever.

    But this just is not true look at the norwegian league we did not start getting a fully proffesional legaue till the early to mid 90s. Makeing aouer proffesional league about the same age as the MLS, and the teams here didn`t have rich owners. The teams were mostly run buy the fans.

    The last part has changed some but a fair number of teams are still owned buy the fans.
     
  4. sportsfan-quakes

    Mar 19, 2005
    San Jose
    Out of curiosity, why do you think Ngwenya was such a big loss, but not Jaqua? They are basically the same age (both turn 27 this year; Jaqua is actually a few months younger); they have very similar stats in MLS for their careers:

    Jaqua: 28 G, 13 A in 117 games played, 7718 total minutes
    7 G, 2 A in 2007 with Houston/LA

    Ngwenya: 16 G, 8 A in 90 games played, 5383 totala minutes
    7 G, 4 A in 2007 with Houston/Columbus


    If anything, Jaqua has had the more impressive MLS career to date statistically.
     
  5. SideshowBob

    SideshowBob Member

    Jan 12, 2007
    Northern VA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Actually, I think you missed the most relevant part of his post, even though you quoted it:

    Virtually no one that MLS "lost" was irreplaceable (Eddie Johnson is probably the only one I'd put into that category). Plenty of new talent has come in. As long as the competitive level of the league is staying the same or improving (and the latter seems clearly to be happening to my eyes) than the salary cap isn't really a problem despite the hand wringing that goes on by some. The basic point is not that MLS couldn't pay these players, but in most cases they simply didn't think they were worth what they would cost.

    And as many have pointed out repeatedly -- the European transfer window is closed now, so the exodus of talent should be limited now; meanwhile the MLS transfer window is still open, so we may still see additional talent additions to the league. Let's see how things look in April so we can do the proper assessment.
     
  6. holiday

    holiday Member+

    Oct 16, 2007
    i agree the concept is the thing, but how do you get the $125k salary as 'less than 8 times the offer?' if the offer was $675k, isn't one eighth of the offer $84k?

    the idea of incentive-based automatic raises is interesting. it might work differently for weaker teams where rookies get more playing time, while on championship contenders even a better player might not make the lineup. it's a purely bureaucratic formula to address a problem, as such certainly not perfect. but it clearly pushes in the right direction.
     
  7. holiday

    holiday Member+

    Oct 16, 2007
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    almost one-third of players leaving are headed for norway. can this be a permanent trend? how many players can norway import? austria on the other hand might be getting two successful imports, which might raise their hunger for mls talent in coming years. i'd say the make-up of the destinations list will vary quite a bit, year-to-year.
    all mls export activity is facilitated by the weak $, which makes transfer fees cheap. that won't change anytime soon, apparently.
     
  8. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 25, 2006

    I agree with this, but expansion should be part of this discussion IMO. In a perfect world, imported players would be creating competition to improve the top of the rosters -- it never made sense to me to import young players to develop -- while college players should raise competition and quality at the bottom of the rosters. With expansion though, it is very difficult to raise the quality of players thorughout the league while simultaneoulsy getting another 18 players of that higher quality for an expansion roster.

    Right now, I would say that while it is close, MLS is probably getting better than it is giving, but not by such a wide margain that it has offset the dilution from expansion. Factoring that in, I would say that while the quality of the league didn't get worse, it didn't get appreciably better either.

    There is still time, of course, but I suspect each team will have a couple players who, ideally, should be in the USL.
     
  9. deron

    deron New Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    Centennial, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree with CommonSense regarding the value of these players. I don't see any of them as decided losses. Even Johnson who's MLS career has been so inconsistent as to make him difficult to really get too exercised about. And, in his case, the transfer fee is just compensation.

    Of the group Noonan's the only one I really think should have found a home in MLS. Now, after the Revs failed to pick up his option, it seems like a couple of teams were interested. What was NE looking for? Was an interleague trade out of the question? Were the Revs holding him ransom and thus forcing a move to Norway? Or, did he just choose Norway rather than a reasonable trade to San Jose or another club?
     
  10. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    Sorry, that was a brain fart. I was thinking $1M in my head when I did that. And if there's a weakness in the numbers I drew up above, it's probably that you might want to devise the system to get high-performance players into the low six figures quickly, because that's probably the region that starts to get young talent paying attention.

    That's a good point. It's definitely not THE solution, just some back-of-the-envelope numbers derived from a defined idea.

    The idea being to offer young players a near-guarantee to move up the payscale quickly based on performance. In most industries where talent is a factor, that kind of idea is used to pull in young talent, where the hope is that once you get them, you'll be able to convince them to stay.

    Here, the model is different in that players move around more, but in a sense I'm not too worried about that--if we aquired most of the hot young players, kept half of those who become moderately promising mid career pros (as opposed to stars, who we're bound to lose but hopefully often for good fees), and got Troy Perkins-type fees for a good chunk of the rest, we'd be doing fine.

    I think Perkins' fee justifies taking a risk for a half dozen young players who get PT, knowing that on occasion you're going to mess up. It's kind of like the economics of the music/publishing industry, where you pay for publication and PR for 10 albums/books, knowing most of them will probably fail, but one 'hit' (which I'd define here as either a DeRosario-type perennial All-Star, or a Perkins-type fee) pays for the whole bunch.
     
  11. jamezyjamez

    jamezyjamez Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    Dallas
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    The Invisible Hand
     
  12. jamezyjamez

    jamezyjamez Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    Dallas
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    More people leaving the MLS and making $ in Europe will draw more (young) people to play in MLS from everywhere (incl USA) to have the opportunity to make $ in Europe. This increases the level of play in MLS and makes more $ for the teams (through sale of players and increased attendance) who can then start paying these guys to stay if they so choose.

    Just needs some more time to develop and then the league office to get out of the way as soon as possible. Government regulation can throw a monkey wrench into market economics in soccer, too.
     
  13. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    To be fair, those leagues are not improving to grow the fanbase of the league. Any improvement those leagues might be making (and actually, in the case of the Dutch league, I would say its best teams were better pre-Bosman than today) is being 'pulled' by demographics (generally not by ticket sales, but by ticket prices and TV deals, which are both driven in turn by the domestic economy).

    We're nearly the only league in the world trying to grow the fanbase by putting a better product out there, and as such it may be difficult to measure ourselves by what others do.

    Of course, it's not really the case that more players are going to Scandinavia because the leagues are getting better (they might be getting slightly better, but that's incidental), but because MLS is itself getting better. Nowadays, middle tier players are good enough to get real PT in those leagues, whereas they were not good enough 10 years ago. In that sense, the increasing exodus is a sign of MLS's growth, not a sign we're "falling back." In fact, when you look at the type of players that have typically gone to Scandinavia, it would make the argument that although those leagues are a good bit richer than ours, they are not, top to bottom, much better.

    In that sense, it's the fact that our player pool is becoming more capable that's giving us a new set of challenges.

    Clearly not! The average MLS fan is not eagle-eye watching the roster of players departing for the Scandiavian leagues. DC United fans, for instance, couldn't possibly be more non-plussed about where it was that Troy Perkins went, only the practical issues of whether our GK situation is better this year than it was last. If DC United's team is better this coming season than last year, than the losses of Perkins and Arguez will register on our consciousness not at all.

    Probably the only set of leagues MLS will want to compare itself to for the fans are the CONCACAF leagues, since those are the ones we play against on a regular basis. In that context, we don't want to come off looking to uncompetitive with Mexico.

    It's a worldwide-fungible player market. In that context, since the entire world is not growing at 10% a year (much of it is stagnating), a 10% level of growth pretty much assures our league will be getting better all the time in the field of players it can attract, and on our standing in the worldwide list of leagues.
     
  14. CommonSense

    CommonSense Member

    Jul 12, 2006
    Portland
    Look at the minutes played, first, second, look at actual value on the field. Ngwenya was a great compliment to Ching, a speedy forward that can create on his own. Jaqua is a backup, a tall player that can score some nice balls, but requires service. There's a reason Chicago put him on their expansion list, a reason TFC traded him immediatley, and a reason LA traded him despite their lack of quality forwards. He's a journeyman, he found a nice home at Houston but is far from irreplaceable.

    I actually thought Ngwenya was younger than he is (26). IDK why, he certainly didn't have a storied career with Columbus or LA, but as a personal feeling I just felt he was a better player in Houston. I'm still not really concerned, I think Houston is well on their way to finding an apt replacement, but I just felt his game was developing nicely, and the MLS lacks speedy forwards that can create on their own. We have enough tall guys that aren't very good technically or tactically (Jaqua).

    Exactly, but not may, MLS will be adding more talent. I want a considerably larger cap, I'm sure almost all of us do. It's coming, be it next season or the year after, the CBA is expiring and MLS PA seems more determined than ever to get much better compensation. Fact is, we have to deal with reality, and right now, Noonan, Jaqua, Dorman, etc, can get higher wages (due to ************ dollar and lack of salary cap in Euro leagues) than they deserve in MLS. We just shouldn't be paying Noonan or Jaqua 10% of the cap (200K, what I assume is at least what they're making in US dollars abroad). Especially if they have European aspirations. Who knows, Jaqua could turn out a fine player in Europe.

    I would be up in arms like some of you if we weren't actually adding more talent than we're exporting. Fact is, the "replacements" seem to be solid additions, and they should diversify the style of the game. I really don't think we're going to witness a decline in quality.
     
  15. scott47a

    scott47a Member+

    Seattle Sounders FC; Arsenal FC
    Feb 6, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    A couple more thoughts:

    1) As MLS fans I think we just have to get used to the idea that our league is not the "big league" in soccer and may never be.
    All of the smaller leagues in the world -- from Poland to Ghana to Korea -- see their players move a lot if someone somewhere else gets an itch to take them.
    It's just part of the globalness of this game that Americans are moving and it's our place in the world pecking order that sees us lose players to Norway or wherever.
    The league is still a long way financially from changing that.

    2) Given that reality, I still can't understand why the MLS and Revs didn't let pretty-boy Twellman go. They should have. Doing so allows younger guys like Adam Cristman to get some time and allows for importation of new players from other leagues from which MLS is seen as a step up.
     
  16. CommonSense

    CommonSense Member

    Jul 12, 2006
    Portland
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    I think most MLS clubs would have, but the fact that NE had already lost Noonan and Dorman had to play a part in that decision. They also lag behind most of the league in scouting and the desire to spend on transfer fees/large wages, so they're not at all confident in finding a replacement.

    We're not exactly Poland now either, and I think player movement to Scandanavia has more to do with European aspirations and structure of the league than the lack of MLS finances. Most in MLS just don't feel that we should break the bank for Jaqua & Noonan anymore, when we can find good South American talent that is more cost effective. It's not that we can't afford Jaqua, IMHO I don't think we feel he's worth what he can demand in Europe. It's that simple.

    In no way would I consider Norway a league above the MLS, they just have a different economic structure and European currencys are dominating the US dollar right now. You don't really see established MLS stars moving to Scandanavia, they're taking our unwanted (or not in high demand) role players. We also see some players coming back from Scandanavia and 2nd BL, so it's not just one way traffic.

    Again, for every loss we've added someone, Latin flair and European professionalism/storied careers that can replace the departing Yanks.

    I mean people, do you really want LA to pay Mathis 200k, Houston 150k to Jaqua, NE 230K to Noonan? These players aren't worth that much. With a large salary cap I still think that's a bit much...
     
  17. Matt12

    Matt12 Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Trondheim
    Club:
    Rosenborg BK
    Don`t know about the rest of them but Noonan gets 400K.
     
  18. zerkdave

    zerkdave Member

    Mar 4, 2005
    Arlington, VA
    Yeah, if Ndoogoo and Jaqua were not traded to the Dynamo, no one would have noticed that they left. They were benefited by a great team and service around them. It makes sense to me for those guys to sell high and leave. It does not make sense for a MLS team to offer them a high Salary.

    Pat Noonan was another entirely replaceable player as well as Dorman. Good they were in the MLS -- Nooner was oft hurt and Dorman was just a dang good player. Cristman and Thompson should turn out to be better than nooner -- in my opine.

    Johnson leaving makes sense. He needed a change of scenery.

    I agree that the league has to take care of its younger players better financially. They gotta up the cap and up the minimum or they can atrophy. we are not there yet, but if something sufficient is not done next year we could be in trouble.

    I am wondering if these guys in Scandinavia and Osterrreich realize that cheese burgers cost around 9 dollars, beers 8 dollars and the tax (not sure how that works out) rate is sometimes hovering around 50 percent. The ladies are priceless though -- although not impressed by footballers.
     
  19. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    If those who go there, perform.

    Essentially as many as they want.

    A Norwegian team has to field 11 (?) home grown/passported players (out of an unlimited roster). It can import the rest.

    An average starter salary in Norway's top league is probably around $400K or so, more with the bigger clubs, less with the smaller.

    Austria seems to have a 5 foreign player rule per team.

    Most MLS players - aside Perkins and Arquez - left on a free.

    But the exchange rate does lift their salaries to some extent.
     
  20. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    The worldwide (fungible? ... good one, Stan) soccer market has been capable of absorbing more money post 1995 due to several factors :

    1) The collapse of the USSR and the USSR backed/occupied "Iron Curtain" nations.

    2) The financial growth of the natural resource laden economies (Middle East and Russia)

    3) "United" Europe, with its Schengen Accord type free trading and employment zones.

    4) The Bosman ruling.

    5) Explosion in the various Pay-TV platforms, including digital and satellite.

    6) Change/investment in the stadium infrastructure (mostly in Europe and Asia).

    I'd brought this up in a semi-related YA thread - when MLS signed Mo Johnston in the mid-90s, his $400K was a very good wage for still a decent Euro footballer at the end of his career.

    At this time, $400K is low-end Colaship wage, yet the MLS salary cap hasn't increased significantly (DP aside) since 1995.

    But that doesn't reflect the far more fluid international soccer market and an increased amounts of money chasing the limited talent.

    PS. As to the quality "in vs. out" for 2008 - a Norwegian club could have just as easily paid $400K to Oscar Echeverry as it did to Pat Noonan. A second tier (Adeccoligaen) Norwegian league could have paid $150K-$300K to the players brought in my the DCU, with the exception of Gallardo, than to Goodson and Gbandi.

    But they didn't.
     
  21. SideshowBob

    SideshowBob Member

    Jan 12, 2007
    Northern VA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    I've wondered... does Norway not being in the EU help them in terms of talent acquisition? Does that allow them to have more open foreigner rules that result in more Americans go there? Easier to get work permits?
     
  22. JoeW

    JoeW New Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    Leagues (especially smaller ones) often go through periods where a particular nationality becomes "hot." Franklin Foer wrote in "How Soccer Explains the World" about how there was a period where in the Ukraine, EVERY first division club had a Nigerian. It became a status thing, keeping up with the Renko's and Plachenko's--you just had to have a Nigerian footballer or you weren't serious.

    Well, Americans are inexpensive, work hard, adjust to direct soccer easily. More importantly, there are so few soccer agents working with American players that once someone places one American in Norway, that agent has an "in." I think it would be interesting to know who the agents are and where their American players went. I wouldn't be surprised if you found out that one agent's free players went to Austria, another over 3 years had sent 4 guys to Norway, another had 2 guys in the UK.
     
  23. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    A year ago, they could have paid only slightly more for Fred and Emilio combined. But they didn't. They put it all out for Pat Noonan instead.

    Luckily for MLS.
     
  24. GV32

    GV32 New Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think this article (as well as a similar recent post on this board) is missing one additional angle. Yes, the money factor is probably the most important. But also, even if MLS were to raise the salary cap a bit, Europe would still look more attractive.

    When a player is in a European league, he's got a chance to play, at least theoretically, in either the UEFA Cup or the Champions League (i.e., big stage). But what does a young player have to play for in the U.S. beyond the domestic tournament? There are no similar prestigious international tournaments in which U.S. clubs take part regularly.

    CONCAAF Champions League (and the possibility of a Copa Sudamericana invite) and the Superliga are baby steps in the right direction. But I think that until playing in the MLS also entails regularly competing for a Libertadores spot, the league will have trouble retaining many of its most talented players even if it ups the salary.
     
  25. Matt12

    Matt12 Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Trondheim
    Club:
    Rosenborg BK
    Re: The Balance of Trade -- Tracking MLS Imports and Exports

    Out of a 25 man squad 14 players has to be homegrown and the 11 oters can come form wereever.

    the defenison of homegrown is that the player spendt at least 3 years in norwegian fotball befor they became 21.

    Also out of the 14 homegrown players i think 2 or 4 has to be be develiped in the club, meaning the player has to have spent at least 3 years in the club befor 21.

    as for how long the trend can countinue it as SFS said depends on how well the players prefor. So far american players has mostly signed with smaller norwegian clubs but if these players are succesful then more and bigger norwgian clubs migth take an intrest in the MLS.
    So far these are the clubs that signed americans

    Sogndal Mid to upper lvl second divison.
    Haugesund Mid lvl second divison
    Aalesund Relegation candidate first divison. (has improved the squad infront of this season so hopefull lower mid tabel this next year)
    HamKam Usaly go up and sown between the norwegian first and second divison.
    Vålrerenga Had a bad season last year but usaly one of the tope teams over here.
    Start In the second divison after a disaterous season last year, I`m sure they will be promoted again and be a mid yo upper mid tabel first divison team.

    The weak dollar is defenatly a factor but even witha normal dollar i think there still woude be good deals to be found for norwegian teams in the MLS.
    Lets look at the sale of Perkins to Vålerenga(VIF). VIF originaly intended to signe Jarstein a norwegian back up NT keeper form Odd who has recently been relegated to the second divison. But because of the price VIF choose to look in oter places for there new keeper (Jarstein signed with RBK costing about 2 million dollars.
    Perkins i think was sold for about 700K. So even with a normal exchange rate this migth have been a good value for money deal for VIF.
    But i also think that the weak dollar is less of a problem for the MLS then it woude have been for anoter league. Cause your salary cap system makes transfer fees less valuabel to the diffrent clubs and there for they are more likely to refuse and offer even if it is fair (Twellman). and i think that is one of the reasons trasfers from the MLS happens when a player is no longer signed.

    Norway is not part of the EU but for fotball purposes it is :)
    Meaning a norwegian player does not need a WP in any european league. This is cause we have trade agreements with the union.
    Also the EU is not the reason non EU players have to attain WP to play in european leagues. Originaly there was a limit to the number of forigners each club could have, but because of the free flow of labor inside the union such rules were deemed illegal and had to be removed.

    Not been part of the EU does not make it easyer for Norway to give out WP. What players needs WP are decided buy each league and as such really does have littel to do with the EU.
    The EU just makes it illegal to put limits on the number of EU players.
     

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