Agbossoumonde in D2 Highlights MLS Allocation FlawsMLS’s Allocation Process was made for parity, but now it hinders talented US prospects from joining the league
by Abram Chamberlain | Monday, April 23, 2012
Red Bull New York is the perfect example of what is wrong with certain aspects of Major League Soccer. It is not that they are a bad team. They are, in fact, a greatly mediocre one. They are a team with ambitions. However, based on player acquisition rules and salary limitations, New York is forced to scavenge the Scandinavian leagues for role players. Just like the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, New York is not allowed to be the super club they could be. And truthfully, the biggest concern for New York and the other clubs – or at least the most fixable one – should be that MLS’s allocation has outgrown its use.
Watching the Los Angeles Galaxy in the early goings of the MLS season and watching New York this past Sunday, anyone with even the slightest bit of soccer knowledge could easily see that both teams were struggling on defense. The easy solution in most leagues would be to either buy a player or get a player on loan.
The first name that came to my mind was Gale Agbossoumonde. Agbossoumonde is a 20-year-old American international who has been capped for the national team 20 times at the youth level and once at the senior level. He is a strong central defender. Perhaps he is the player that could easily fill the gap left either in Los Angeles by Omar Gonzalez or in New York by their poor scouting and transfers. Agbossoumonde is currently playing in the second division … OF AMERICA. That’s right, this young talented American is playing for the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL. There are various reasons why he is in America’s second division – the bogus deal he signed with Traffic Sports being among them – and honestly there is nothing wrong with playing division 2 soccer. I am all for young American prospects that can’t get playing time being loaned to NASL and USL PRO squads as opposed to playing in the reserve league. But when that someone is a highly sought prospect like Agbossoumonde, who could be starting in a few foreign leagues and definitely for either New York or Los Angeles, I want him in MLS.
So why does New York or Los Angeles not go all in to get Agbossoumonde? You need look no further than New York’s failed attempts to land Luis Robles. Robles, who received one, single, solitary cap for the USMNT, was signed by New York before New York was told he could not be claimed off a Discovery Claim and would have to enter the Allocation Process. This is disheartening. If Robles with one cap must go through discovery, then undoubtedly Agbossoumonde would as well – due to him having twenty more combined caps than Robles.
So why continue allocation any longer? MLS’s argument is that the majority of US based players would only sign with the big market clubs like New York and Los Angeles. So to keep things fair the league feels it must allocate national teamers (former, current, or otherwise) league-wide. Meanwhile, teams can sign any foreign player they want, so long as they have filed the paperwork for a Discovery Claim. But in a league consumed by the idea of parity, with quality limitations, salary restrictions – but also with myriads of loopholes, why is MLS worried about New York and LA dominating the US-born player market? Would Clint Dempsey not want to play for a Texas team if he could? Marcus Hahnemann seemed to be on a path back to Seattle before the Allocation Process stopped him. If, due to the salary cap, Chivas USA could pay Alejandro Bedoya twice the salary of Los Angeles or New York – and yes I know Chivas is still in LA – wouldn’t he prefer the extra money as an incentive?
Luis Robles backed out of MLS due to the Allocation Process. MLS clubs are failing to land players (either as straight out sales or loans) like Gale Agbossoumonde due to that same issue. It’s quite likely that other fringe USMNT players have decided in favor of the Bundesliga.2, the English Championship or other lower division European leagues, which are coincidentally not better than MLS, just to avoid losing control over where they would play.
Part of MLS’s original purpose was to help improve the US player. But right now the Allocation Process is keeping some of the better American prospects from playing in the USA. And until any team can make any offer on any American player that process is going to continue to be a hindrance. So forget about the salary restrictions for a moment, and forget about all the salary loopholes that seem to exist solely for foreign born players (that is another story in itself) and let’s look solely at the league’s Allocation Process. It has outgrown its use and it is time for MLS to look at either altering it or dropping it all together.