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Follow Up: Clint Dempsey Move Still Stinks

The original news of Dempsey to Seattle didn't mesh with the rules, and neither does the MLS explanation.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As I wrote a few days ago, the Clint Dempsey to Seattle move didn't make sense in the context of the rules. Last night, before Dempsey was officially announced as a Sounder, MLS released a statement about Dempsey not being part of the allocation process. The official release doesn't do much to make a case for Dempsey to Seattle without Portland being paid for it.

From the release:

The allocation process is a ranking order similar to a draft order for those players who come to MLS outside the MLS Super Draft, who are not 'discovered' or who are not Designated Players. Generally, similar to the Draft order, the allocation order is based on a ranking of the previous year's performance. The most recent example of a player joining MLS through the allocation process was the signing of Carlos Bocanegra by Chivas USA. Toronto FC was first on the allocation ranking order and therefore Chivas had to make a trade with Toronto to acquire his rights.

That's all well and good, but Carlos Bocanegra was a USMNT player, and Toronto was compensated.

From the rules, as of today (emphasis mine):

The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee. The allocation rankings may also be used in the event two or more clubs file a request for the same player on the same day when the discovery period opens in December. The allocations will be ranked in reverse order of finish for the 2012 season, taking playoff performance into account.

The rules on MLS' website are clear; allocation order is to be used for USMNT & former MLS players.

Then there is this part of the release:

When MLS clubs try to retain a player on their roster but he opts to sign abroad, the club that loses the player retains the right to re-sign him should he return. At times, the club holding this right can trade it to another team. A recent example is Robbie Rogers, who Columbus attempted to sign before he left MLS and signed overseas. When Robbie returned, Columbus had a right of first refusal to sign him in preference of other MLS clubs. That right was traded to Chicago, who in turn traded it to LA in exchange for Mike Magee.

That's well and good, but New England never retained the rights to Clint Dempsey, so once again, he should be going through the allocation process. Here's the part that takes the cake though:

For new players signed by an MLS club as a Designated Player, the allocation process does not apply. Examples of this include previous high profile player signings like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and US national team player Claudio Reyna when he signed with New York.

I don't know about Reyna, as I can't find information about when the allocation process was put in place, but, in regards to Beckham, Henry, and Keane:

  • The DP rule was created especially for MLS to get David Beckham.
  • Beckham, Henry, and Keane were never subject to the allocation process because
    • They were never on the USMNT.
    • They had never previously played in MLS.
So, the only logical conclusion is that Garber and MLS HQ wrote an exception into the rules just for Dempsey, and claimed it existed all along. In the process, the Portland Timbers got screwed in not getting just compensation, and Seattle gets to stay near the top of the allocation order even though they should now be at the bottom.

Once again, MLS: where the rules are made up and the points don't matter. Kind of ironic that the man responsible for that phrase catching on in the US, Drew Carey, is part owner of the Seattle Sounders.