MLS has published full and detailed lists of its teams' rosters, providing a near-unprecedented insight into the precise construction of each squad in the league. It is a welcome step toward greater transparency from a league that - even to those who work within it - can be a little hard to follow at times.
The roster lists provide a snapshot of where teams are right now: squads can and will change over the course of the season. Still, they provide a helpful understanding of how a team has been assembled for the start of the 2017 MLS season, and one or two surprises.
In the case of the New York Red Bulls, perhaps the biggest surprise is the news that defender Gideon Baah is on the season-ending injury list. That designation is, at it suggests, season-ending - at least in terms of first-team opportunities. Per the 2017 MLS Roster Rules and Regulations:
Once placed on the Season-ending Injury List, the injured player will not be eligible to play for the club in any remaining competition during that MLS season (including any exhibition games or tournaments, CONCACAF Champions League, AMWAY Canadian Championship and U.S. Open Cup game). In the event that a player placed on the Season-ending Injury List recovers prior to the end of the MLS season, that player may only play in games for the club's USL affiliate.
In effect, Gideon Baah - listed by the MLS Players Union as guaranteed $315,000 by RBNY for 2016 - is a well-compensated Red Bulls reserve for the coming season. If he has a season ahead of him at all, it will be in USL, not MLS.
It was known Baah had suffered a season-ending injury - but that was a broken leg in July of last year. Most recently, he was spotted working out at the Red Bulls Training Facility, and assumed to be on his way back to full fitness and competing for a place in RBNY's starting lineup.
Gideon Baah is jogging around the practice field as #RBNY drills continue.— Seeing Red (@SeeingRedNY) February 27, 2017
Though no expectations were set for Baah's return this season, it was expected he would return - not least by the player himself, who spoke to the Ghanaian media during the off-season about his resolve to get back on the field for the Red Bulls' 2017 campaign. Indeed, RBNY itself seemed to share those expectations, publishing a short clip to its website of Baah's first workout at the club after he reported for preseason.
But it would appear there has been a recalculation somewhere along the way. Inquiries to MLS about the season-ending nature of the season-ending injury designation were referred to the league's official roster rules. If there's a way back to the first team for a player on the season-ending injury list, it's not a way that MLS has included in its published rules or that its spokespeople can describe. RBNY did not immediately respond to request for comment on the matter.
Absent evidence to the contrary, there are merely two simple facts leading to one unfortunate conclusion. Gideon Baah is on RBNY's season-ending injury list for 2017, and the season-ending injury designation prevents a player from participating in any first team games for the duration of the season in question: Gideon Baah won't be playing for RBNY in MLS (or US Open Cup, or even mid-season friendlies for the first team) in 2017.