[MLS SPOTLIGHT] For Seattle fans, the suspense was finally over Saturday night when Sounders owner Joe Roth presented Clint Dempsey to the crowd assembled at CenturyLink Field for the Seattle-FC Dallas game. For those trying to figure out just how the Sounders had obtained Dempsey's rights from Tottenham, that MLS mystery was cleared up earlier in the day.
After Tottenham had confirmed it had sold Dempsey to the Sounders, MLS, in a statement from its executive vice president of player relations & competition, Todd Durbin, explained how the Sounders had obtained Dempsey's rights.
The relevant points:
-- New England no longer held the rights to Dempsey, who played for the Revs before moving to England in 2007, because it received a transfer fee for Dempsey. MLS clubs retain rights to players who leave MLS only if they departed as free agents.
(This was always clear.)
-- The allocation process for U.S. national team players only applies to non-Designated Players. It did not apply to Dempsey because he was returning as a Designated Player, like Claudio Reyna did in 2007. Dempsey and Reyna are the only Americans who have returned to MLS as Designated Players.
When Freddy Adu returned to MLS in 2011 to play for the Philadelphia Union, he was not signed as a Designated Player and therefore went through the allocation process. Only later did Adu become a Designated Player.
(This exception to the allocation rule for DPs is not spelled out in MLS's Roster Rules. According to the current allocation rankings, Seattle sits second behind Portland but since it didn't need to go through the allocation process, it did not have to compensate the rival Timbers.)
"I know there have been some questions in the media regarding MLS's allocation process. I'd like to start by providing some detail on the relevant player rules. More detailed information is on our website.
"Players come to MLS in a variety of ways, including through the SuperDraft, or when clubs 'discover' players. The vast majority of 'discovered' players tend to be playing overseas and occupy international player roster slots.
"The allocation process is a ranking order similar to a draft order for those players who come to MLS outside the MLS Super Draft, who are not 'discovered' or who are not Designated Players. Generally, similar to the Draft order, the allocation order is based on a ranking of the previous year's performance. The most recent example of a player joining MLS through the allocation process was the signing of Carlos Bocanegra by Chivas USA. Toronto FC was first on the allocation ranking order and therefore Chivas had to make a trade with Toronto to acquire his rights.
"When MLS clubs try to retain a player on their roster but he opts to sign abroad, the club that loses the player retains the right to re-sign him should he return. At times, the club holding this right can trade it to another team. A recent example is Robbie Rogers who Columbus attempted to sign before he left MLS and signed overseas. When Robbie returned, Columbus had a right of first refusal to sign him in preference of other MLS clubs. That right was traded to Chicago, who in turn traded it to Los Angeles in exchange for Mike Magee.
"For new players signed by an MLS club as a Designated Player, the allocation process does not apply. Examples of this include previous high profile player signings like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keaneand U.S. national team player Claudio Reyna when he signed with New York."