MLS burns Fire with Jones decision
August 26, 2014
In a year in which soccer captured the hearts of many Americans over the summer, Major League Soccer showed why it still can’t rank itself with the four major American sports.
On Sunday, it was announced that the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Jermaine Jones would join the New England Revolution after a blind draw between the Revolution and the Chicago Fire.
Yes, you read that right. Jones will be playing for the Revolution because MLS commissioner Don Garber randomly picked the Revolution’s envelope over the Fire’s. Jones is going to play for the team that the MLS practically assigned him to, rather than going to play for the team that he wants to play for, the Fire.
The MLS has created many different ways to acquire players such as weighted lotteries and homegrown signings, but this new way just boggles the mind.
Jermaine Jones made his name famous during the 2014 World Cup, scoring the goal that tied the game for the Americans against Portugal. Jones expressed interest in joining a team in the MLS during this past winter, but no deal was reached. He moved from German giant Schalke, the team he had played for the past seven years, to Besiktas in Turkey for the second half of the Euro season. After an impressive stint with the U.S. national team in Brazil, the Chicago Fire began the process of trying to persuade him to come to the club.
Like his fellow national team members Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, Jones wasn’t subject to the allocation order because “Designated Players of a certain threshold — as determined by the League — are not subject to allocation ranking.” This was bad news for the Columbus Crew, who would’ve been first in that order, but these are the MLS rules.
Jones would have preferred to play in Los Angeles because he has family there, but neither Los Angeles-area team had the capabilities of offering him a contract. Of the two teams that made him an offer, he preferred to play for the Fire. Chicago was appealing because it is closer to home, Toyota Park has natural grass and he had a positive conversation with the Fire leadership.
The issue for the Fire began with a MLS protocol that requires the league to run a player’s name to every team in the league that is financially capable and interested. Jones rejected the Fire’s offer three weeks ago causing panic for the MLS. They needed to get Jones if the league wanted to continue to grow, so they ensured he would make a certain amount of money with the only catch being that he would not get to pick his team.
Jones was not allowed to make his decision; the MLS made it for him. This was not a Chris Paul to the Lakers trade being blocked by David Stern. Both clubs are not considered strong and are pushing for a playoff spot.
Jones wanted to play for the Fire and would’ve been an essential cornerstone for a rebuilding franchise. It was not a shock that the statement the team released was filled with negativity, although the team said it would “respect the decision.”
The decision was made by picking up a blank envelope, it was up in the air, just like it’s up in the air whether the MLS will ever get it right.
Michal is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and @bennythebull94.