Major League Soccer's commissioner, Don Garber, took some questions on twitter during Bayern Munich's 4-0 drubbing of Barcelona. Perhaps the best exchange took place between Garber and former LA Galaxy player Herculez Gomez.
@herculezg Because they tried to sign you and you declined. We would love to have you back.— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) April 23, 2013
So we've got a player who has expressed interest in returning to MLS, wondering why Sporting Kansas City retains the right of first refusal. This rights bit means that if Gomez were to return to MLS, any interested club would have to buy those rights from Sporting. How does Gomez feel about this answer?
@thesoccerdon you mean that $20k (a year) raise (while so enticing) was a legit offer? I’m aware of the CBA, was a player rep. Saludos.— herculez gomez (@herculezg) April 23, 2013
So that's fun. Let's do some investigation. Under the current collective bargaining agreement there is the concept of a bonafide offer, and it's definition is worth reviewing (link):
"Bona Fide Offer" is an offer from MLS to an Out of Contract Player that meets the following minimum conditions: (1) for "25/4 players," contains a first-year salary at least equal to the player's 2010 annual base salary and for "30/8 players," contains a first-year salary at least 5% greater than the player's 2010 annual base salary; (2) a term of 1+1+1; (3) option year salaries that increase by at least 5% each year; (4) performance bonuses that are at least the same as the performance bonuses in the previous year of the player's contract.
According to the roster rules, a team holds the right of first refusal indefinitely if there are attempts to resign a player. So Herculez Gomez is out of contract with the Kansas City Wizards at the end of 2009, having made $54,408 the previous year. Gomez says he was offered a $20k raise, which would be $74,408 a year. That's well more than 5% of his previous base salary.
Liga MX is just as stingy with salary information as MLS, perhaps more-so as at least MLS salary information comes out eventually through the players union. Still, it's safe to assume Gomez is making more than $75k abroad in Mexico. It's also safe to assume it's less than the MLS minimum DP salary, as knowing he has DP leverage appears to be part of why he wants to return to MLS.
However, the MLS right of first refusal puts Gomez in a similar situation to the one he's complained about in Mexico; lack of free agency. Twitter has given players a chance to vocalize their frustration with this process, Robbie Rogers being another who has spoken up about it.
It's not easy being a professional soccer player in North America.
Herculez Gomez and the right of first refusal wasn't the only topic Don Garber got to touch on.
- Most of the other questions were about MLS expansion (folk love talking about expansion). St. Louis came up, and Garber mentioned the Manchester City friendly could kindle interest.
- On the Queens Stadium situation, it was talked about in the executive staff meeting this morning but it wasn't specified what they talked about.
- He also said he loves what's happening in Orlando. Miami was mentioned briefly.
- He also began the session by saying he thought thirty teams, the current capacity of most of the other major US leagues, would be too much for MLS. So how far MLS expands beyond twenty is a very interesting question.