[MLS TRANSACTIONS] The sale of Omar Bravo to Mexican club Cruz Azul is layered with implications but in any transaction, sometimes the bottom line overrides all else.
Without revealing financial details, Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes succinctly encapsulated one of the major factors when he said, “You have to take it in the context of business,” when interviewed on mlssoccer.com’s ExtraTime broadcast. “It wound up being very beneficial for him and us. I understand from the business perspective why the decision was made.”
A seldom-discussed aspect of the MLS Designated Player option is how much such players might fetch in the transfer market when they leave the league. Bravo played one season of a multi-year deal for $170,000 total compensation, which is well below the league’s $500,000 threshold (for salary and acquisition costs pro-rated annually), so it can be assumed MLS paid a fairly large – by its standards – fee to acquire him, and has probably recouped that sum and more by selling him.
Bravo finished the regular season tied with Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury for the team lead in goals (nine). He sat out the playoffs, except for a five-minute appearance in a 1-0 loss to Houston in the conference finals, despite his proclamation he had recovered sufficiently from a groin injury to play significant minutes.
He mildly expressed his frustration after that defeat, and was left unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft Nov.23, after which came serious inquiries from Cruz Azul that eventually yielded the transfer.
Vermes has denied several times a rift had separated him and Bravo and says he would welcome him back. A condition of the deal is SKC retains Bravo’s MLS rights. “From the first day he joined us, his attitude was excellent,” Vermes had said during the season. “You always wonder how a player like him will react to the guys and vice versa, but he’s been great in the locker room and works his butt off in training.”
Since most DPs come to MLS at the tail end of their careers, for them there usually isn’t much re-sale value. Those who do leave before their contracts are up often do so because they and the club are eager to sever the relationship as cleanly and quickly as possible, as was the case last spring when Swiss striker Blaise N’kufo bailed on the Sounders just before the season started. Vermes insists this deal is rooted in the financial details.
“[Cruz Azul] really wanted him, pursued it very, very hard with the league and with us and Omar – I’m telling you – was in between a rock and hard place,” Vermes said. “He wasn’t sure how to do it. He really wanted to stay. He loved playing in MLS and the challenge of it.
“But I think you are smart enough to figure out that obviously there were benefits on both sides that eventually got the deal done. That’s really it.
The primary candidate to take Bravo’s left-wing spot in SKC’s 4-3-3 formation is Bobby Convey, acquired Dec. 2 in a trade with San Jose. The attack has also lost former captain Davy Arnaud, selected by Montreal in the Expansion Draft. Vermes says the team is willing to sign another DP if the right opportunity surfaces.