Mystery of Dempsey signing explained

[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 Keane and U.S. national team player Claudio Reyna when he signed with New York."
12 comments about "Mystery of Dempsey signing explained".
  1. Chris Connelly, August 4, 2013 at 8:51 a.m.

    Still a mystery ... never cared about the how, only why MLS now?

  2. Billy theLimpet, August 4, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.

    Robbie Fowler would be a useful signing for DC United

  3. Albert Harris, August 4, 2013 at 9:41 a.m.

    Why? Is there a shortage of drug and alcohol consumption in the greater DC area?

  4. Steven McDonald, August 4, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.

    Seems that JK has a good relationship with Sigi and that Clint would definitely have the playing time. Also, Clint would have an opportunity to shop around for a good loan opportunity. Don't think Tottenham gave him a real shot and their problems were about being inconsistent. With the lineup changes they always had , no wonder!
    Duece seemed to be played out of position.

  5. Leland Price, August 4, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.

    I agree with Mr. McDonald. Tottenham never gave Clint a real shot - perhaps because AVB's young age makes him somewhat insecure. And let's face it, the Spurs coach still has yet to really prove himself in England.

  6. Steven McDonald, August 4, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

    Also, as far as Tottenham goes, I'm still not happy with that whole GK deal. Time for Brad to come home too. He was one of the main reasons they had made the Europa League last year and then to get demoted like that.

  7. Alexander Lozano, August 4, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

    Still a bit too convulted IMO but a bit easier to understand now...thanks for the explanation!

  8. Allan Lindh, August 4, 2013 at 12:54 p.m.

    He's getting older, he's got a family, kids of school age, Seattles a great town for a family. Truth is he learned that maybe he ain't Champions League material, and Tottenham clearly didn't think so because they are signing strikers like crazy. So it was either take a step back in the EPL, or make a change, to a good team, in a great town with a very good coach who is a straight shooter. Deuce was always very clear, soccer is a job that provided great opportunities for his family. He shot the moon, didn't make it, and made a mature, grownup choice -- for what really matters -- his family.

  9. Kerry Solomon, August 4, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.

    If he is a family guy then coming back to MLS makes sense. I just hope that he continues to excel. It seemed that when he went overseas that he was 'pushed' and because of that he constantly improved and his drive got stronger. I hope that continues but I believe he should have stayed in the Premiership with another club.

  10. Andrea Hana, August 4, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.

    Nicely put, Allan Lindh! I, being a Sounders fan, am very excited, indeed! He could not have chosen a better situation, all around: Family, Fans, Lifestyle-all of these make Seattle a great location. He'll do well!

  11. Dannie Whitehouse, August 4, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.

    Kerry, I agree with you, I wish he would have stayed with the EPL. He' s not over the hill, and the Spurs weren't a good fit , but it wasn't because he wasn't good enough, they just built their style for Bale, etc...bottom line is he was an asset at Fulham and at Tottenham and he has gotten better for the US team because of it. Congratulations Seattle, you're getting the best current American player.

  12. Ben Tulchin, August 5, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.

    I have very mixed feelings about this. This is clearly great for MLS and the Sounders, which is a sign the progress MLS is making. Deuce got a lot of guaranteed $ and playing time, so I don't blame him. But I do worry about the US' best player over the past few years - and by far our most successful in Europe - taking a step back and no longer playing in the best league in the world. Not sure that will benefit Deuce's development as a player nor the US team.

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