Much that is good and bad about the MLS player-distribution system is personified in the return of Amado Guevara, who has left Honduran club Montagua, has been acquired by MLS, and was traded by his previous club, Chivas USA, to Toronto FC, for which he refused to play last year.
On the downside, Chivas USA originally gave up its Designated Player slot to acquire the Honduran midfielder from New York last year after the 2004 league MVP wore out his welcome, and in return gets a couple of draft picks a year after the fact.
Even if both of those picks are first-rounders - they are specified only as selections in the 2009 and 2010 Superdrafts - Chivas USA is getting shortchanged, especially since it had to wait a year to get anything back for a player who walked out.
According to a source, Chivas USA is guaranteed a first-round pick as a condition of the trade. In most leagues, the rule of thumb in a trade is caveat emptor. Through it's a single-entity league structure, MLS wields more control over players, yet it had little power over Guevara once he left the country.
On the upside, had Guevara become a free agent (in regards to MLS) upon expiration of his league contract, theoretically Chivas USA wouldn't have received any compensation at all.
MLS policies grant teams rights to players who play out their contracts, and on that basis, Toronto FC needed to negotiate a deal with Chivas USA for Guevara's rights. (In practical terms, a player who left any professional league under such conditions wouldn't have been allowed to return without his former team receiving some form of redress.)
After playing four games for Chivas USA last season, Coach Preki tried to trade him to TFC, but instead Guevara bolted. He wound up playing with Montagua on loan under terms of his original MLS contract, which expired in December.
He re-signed with Montagua in January, but a move back to MLS was always in the works, since the new deal only bound him to Montagua until the end of the Honduran season or until the club agreed to let him go. No transfer fee was paid to consummate the deal, and as soon as word surfaced he might be headed back to MLS, Toronto steadfastly insisted it wanted him.
Having just picked up midfielder Laurent Robert, who started last week in a 4-1 loss to D.C. United, TFC roster is racking up with midfield options. In the short-term, they'll be needed because Kevin Harmse is suspended for his wild challenge against D.C. that left defender Gonzalo Peralta injured.
Guevara isn't a Designated Player, though that's what he cost Chivas USA, and he'll earn less than the $335,000 maximum salary. He will earn about $250,000, which leaves TFC still with some cap room should it choose to sign players who have trained with the team in the past week, midfielder Rohan Ricketts and defender Oliver Tebily.
The signing of Laurent fills the TFC regular roster with 18 players, so to add Guevara, it must move a player, either to its developmental roster or off its books entirely.
Guevara is expected to arrive in Los Angeles Friday and pending registration of his international transfer certificate will be eligible to play Sunday against the Galaxy at Home Depot Center.