As an MLS champion, I'm struggling with the announcement today of Jermaine Jones joining the New England Revolution via a 'blind draw' between them and the Chicago Fire--but I'm beginning to understand. A little background.
Jermaine Jones, most recently of Bestiskas, wished to come to MLS. Unlike Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, Jones had two suitors for his services, both having a DP spot available, and both having the money to spend on the 32-year-old: the Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution. Given this unprecedented situation, the MLS informed Jones that he must sign a contract with MLS before indicating the teams involved in this draw. So, Jones signed. Then the process began, and finally ended, with this 'blind draw.'
Thus, when Fox Sports uses the line, "MLS used its discretion," that's another term for "flying by the seat of its pants." SI Soccer's Avi Creditor tweeted yesterday afternoon a quote from Don Garber, dated 12/3/13:
"...I ask our fans to accept that at 18 years old we’re still evolving and we’re still doing some of this stuff on the fly"- Garber, 12/3/13— Avi Creditor (@AviCreditor) August 24, 2014
Clearly. The MLS is a young league trying to find its way. Yet, the league is not simply surviving, but thriving and--yes-evolving. We as Americans are used to basketball, baseball, and football, with rules fairly entrenched with modest tweaking along the way. Not so with the MLS, apparently.
This process has been describe from the range of questionable to beyond. I'm struggling to defend this procedure, even as I understand this--but we have simple formula.
What may be bad for most fans (MLS players going to places via a 'blind draw') is good for MLS (obtaining good-to-great players for the league), and thus will be good for fans (at least we will have a soccer league to love and, yes, gripe about for the foreseeable future.
For those of you who were like me just a few years ago, entering blind into the business mechanations of MLS, remember: the MLS 'owns' all 19 teams. That's important to understand this. When prior leagues arose with owners owning each team, the leagues struggled and ultimately folded. A new model was needed to keep the league going. So far, so good. How sustainable this will be, time will tell. But the MLS has lasted 18 years, is looking to expand to 24 (let's start a chant: 24 and No More), and is not only gaining viewers, but also gaining class players who are not actually going out to futbol pasture!
My only concern is this: If the MLS higher-ups, given they own all MLS teams, continue to 'place' players in certain markets, either for parity's sake or for business' sake, will MLS see Colorado as a choice place for players to come? That may be apples and oranges, but that's my question in how certain teams (like my beloved Rapids) will fit in to the larger scheme of the MLS moving forward.
I'd love to hear from you. This is one writer working to work out this choice piece of business dealings in the MLS. Set me straight. Give me information that's needed to finish this puzzle.
I so want the MLS to succeed--but I also want it to succeed in the right way.