Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
What should Stuart Holden do?
by Ridge Mahoney, December 18th, 2009 12:48AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

If he goes for the money, Stuart Holden is already headed for Europe even if he hasn't signed a deal.

Whatever he wanted from Scottish club Aberdeen, it was too much, as Coach Mark McGhee said last month he couldn't afford Holden. A few English League Championship (second division) and Premier League teams are interested, and so what chance is there for MLS, which summoned him to the league offices last week to offer a tenfold increase, more or less, than the $34,728 he earned in 2009? Plus bonuses, of course.

An offer from an EPL club can certainly trump any Scottish club other than Celtic or Rangers, not to mention MLS, but there could be a few conditions attached. The lower-tier teams operate on much smaller budgets than the Big Four as well as Tottenham, Everton and Aston Villa, and many of them could well be dragged into a relegation battle.

This last item could be important. Former U.S. forward Brian McBride ended up going to Fulham instead of Blackburn at the last minute when a Rovers' team executive insisted on inserting a relegation clause by which McBride's salary would be cut in half if Blackburn fell into the second tier. McBride balked and Fulham, whose coach at the time, Chris Coleman, had been monitoring the situation closely, swept in to make a deal.

Such clauses are not uncommon, even though teams relegated from the Premier League receive "balloon" payments for two years to assist their attempts to climb back up. And a half-price EPL contract would still far exceed the MLS maximum salary, but is this the right time for Holden to slog through a harsh English winter with a World Cup callup pending in May?

Holden might be short on time to establish himself as a bonafide EPL starter, which is what he would need to get sharp enough to hit the final World Cup training camp in top shape.

Houston coach Dominic Kinnear would green-light a Designated Player contract for Holden, as he's a staunch supporter of using those slots and the money for American players if at all possible. But last summer Houston instead signed Mexican forward Luis Angel Landin to an 18-month loan at a DP salary, which a league executive confirmed will exceed $1 million next season, so unless it trades for a second DP slot, the Dynamo can't go that route.

MLS commissioner Don Garber, as he did years ago with Cobi Jones, has personally intervened. An offer worth more than $300,000 per year is on the table, and even if he could make a lot more in England or Scotland, Holden should seriously consider staying stateside. He will be much more important to the Dynamo next season than he was in 2009 because Ricardo Clark is headed overseas this winter to Italian club Livorno. The Dynamo midfield is about to undergo a second extensive makeover in as many seasons, having lost Dwyane De Rosario to Toronto after the 2008 season.

Kinnear can probably cover for Holden by moving Brad Davis into the middle and giving Corey Ashe first shot to start at left mid, yet Kinnear must also begin grooming a replacement for rightie Brian Mullan, who finished the regular season fairly well after an indifferent campaign and regressed somewhat in the playoffs.

Kinnear has already stated he may move second-year sensation Geoff Cameron from the back line to his regular position of midfield, and a trident of Holden and Cameron and Davis would give Houston perhaps the best triumvirate in MLS.

Holden can't sign a short-term deal with MLS, simply because there is no such thing for a promising American player. Like Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard before him, MLS would want to lock him up to a long-term deal, which greatly increases the transfer fee it can request if a suitable offer comes from overseas.

What about the time-honored buyout clause, by which MLS and the player's representatives pre-negotiate a transfer price written into the contract that, if met, obligates MLS to sell the player, assuming he can agree on salary and other terms with said clubs? Again, such clauses are extremely rare in league contracts, which is one reason Taylor Twellman could do little but complain two years ago when MLS turned down offers from Preston North End that began at $800,000 and went as high as $2 million.

Preston broke the trend somewhat by making a big offer during the January window, but Twellman had already signed a new MLS contract that paid him about $400,000 a year and didn't contain a buyout clause. The Revs played hardball and the league fell in line. Had he turned it down, he'd have been free to take the Preston deal unencumbered. But there's a lot to be said about the bird in the hand, especially since he'd been slapped down with a $24,000 contract by MLS upon returning to America after bypassing the SuperDraft and laboring for two years in Germany without playing a first-team game.

And if MLS refused to insert a buyout clause into the contracts of Donovan and Twellman, it's not going to so accommodate Stuart Holden. But in MLS he will play a lot for a good team and set himself up for a move to Europe soon enough.

 



0 comments
  1. Mike Gaire
    commented on: December 18, 2009 at 3:30 p.m.
    Although disappointing to MLS fans not to see Stuart playing for Houston next season I think a stint in the English Premier League would improve his game, so long as he is not riding a bench. That is the risky part. But if I were him I would take the risk and try my luck in England ( or at Celtic or Rangers).


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
At home in America    
The most entertaining part of the summer of soccer, I admit, has been Louis van Gaal's ...
No beach time for Lampard just yet    
One of the most-capped players in the history of England's national team, midfielder Frank Lampard says ...
Proposing a radical rule addition to protect players    
The best World Cup ever? Not if you are concerned about player safety.
Brazil Diary: Germans bring joy to Rio    
Two sets of fans on the subway leaving the Maracana station on Sunday night wore German ...
Soccer America's World Cup Best XI    
In a tournament with so many twists and turns, it isn't easy to come up with ...
Germany-Argentina Player Ratings    
A gripping World Cup final ended with a superb goal by Mario Goetze that earned Germany ...
Germany is Weltmeister, deservedly    
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mario Goetze, who was born nearly two years after Germany last won ...
The 10 best things about the 2014 World Cup    
Brazil 2014 has been the best World Cup of our lifetime. Beginning with the first three ...
Brazil Diary: Meeting Pele     
Life is good. On Saturday I had the offer of a free sandwich and a roundtable ...
Dutch pile more misery onto Brazil's nightmare    
Few Brazilian fans could have foreseen how hosting the World Cup would end, with a depressing ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives