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Confusion in Columbus
by Ridge Mahoney, January 10th, 2008 6:30AM

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[MLS WATCH] When is an option not an option? When a player like Guillermo Barros Schelotto believes both sides have equal power to extend or terminate the contract, and the other entity, in this case MLS, defines it as something else.

Schelotto is indeed willing to come back to the Crew, but not for the $150,000 salary he earned last season. In standard MLS deals, as in most player contracts, the player's rights are bound to the club if it exercises an option. MLS options usually include an automatic 5 percent salary increase, which is the real sticking point.

The former Argentine international ranked fourth in MLS with 11 assists while serving some of the sweetest balls the league has seen.

He left Boca Juniors in good faith to re-start his career in a new country and perhaps believed his first season would be on a trial basis, with a new deal to be negotiated if both parties agreed he would come back.

Two-way options are rare, but in the case of a major European star heading to say, Qatar, he might indeed sign a two-year deal but would certainly want an escape clause if he couldn't handle the culture shock. Leaving Buenos Aires for central Ohio isn't quite as severe, yet it's a radical change he's handled well.

The Crew has some allocation money to play with, since it missed the playoffs again last season. But allocation money can be used to sign new player or re-sign a player currently on its roster, not simply top off a current deal, so to significantly bump up his salary and thus keep Schelotto happy, Columbus needs to dicker.

 



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