Three reasons why Matt Miazga's transfer is good for MLS

In a perfect world, players would spend their entire careers in MLS, so clubs could maximize the exposure these players get and the good will they generate, but MLS does not operate in its own world, like MLB and the NFL effectively do, and the NBA and NHL do to a lesser extent.

Players coming and going make up the international transfer market, and clubs routinely buy and sell players. For many years, MLS clubs spent little on transfer fees, and few players left the league via the transfer market.

This winter has seen a spike in transfers out of MLS: Omar Gonzalez from the LA Galaxy to Pachuca, Juninho from the Galaxy to Tijuana, Jorge Villafana from the champion Portland Timbers to Santos, all in Mexico. But the biggest deal yet involves the impending move by New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga to Chelsea.

ESPN FC reported on Wednesday that the 20-year-old Miazga had left the U.S. national team camp in California to fly to London for a medical exam and join Chelsea on what the Daily Mail reported was a $5 million transfer fee.

Here are three reasons why Miazga's transfer will be a good thing for MLS.

1. MLS clubs will need the allocation money generated by transfer fees.

Miazga's status as a free agent at the end of the season made it imperative that the Red Bulls sell him now if they wanted to get any money for him. And their share of the transfer fee -- three-quarters for a Homegrown Player -- will be a significant source of General Allocation Money ($650,000) that they'll be able use to pay down contracts (or transfer fees) of new signings or re-sign players already under contract.

In the short term, that General Allocation Money the Red Bulls, Galaxy and Timbers have received will give them a significant edge on other clubs, all otherwise starting out on an equal footing in terms of the new Targeted Allocation Money ($800,000 per season in 2016 and 2017) each must spend -- or lose.

As MLS clubs must spend more on transfer fees for players rather than rely on getting lucky with out-of-contract players, they must indeed have generated transfer fees from the sale of players to fund their own spending.'

2. MLS clubs must justify their spending on academy programs.

MLS owners are now spending roughly $40 million on player development -- academy programs and USL second teams -- and they will looking for a return. Obviously, the total amount of money spent has grown as the league has expanded, but this is an investment owners didn't make a decade ago.

As a class of Americans or American products entering MLS, the number of Homegrown players has been growing and the number contributing has jumped --  five MLS Homegrown players are in the January camp -- but clubs still are investing far more on players imported from abroad and that amount will grow as they start to use their TAM funds.

For technical staffs looking to justify to player development expenditures to their owners, the transfer of Miazga -- who entered the Red Bulls academy at the age of 14 -- is Exhibit A.

3. MLS clubs must spend more on the Homegrown players entering the league.

Along with TAM, MLS has introduced another new spending product -- an incremental $125,000 per season will be made available to each club to sign Homegrown Players. Seattle took advantage of that to sign Jordan Morris.

The salary the Sounders offered Morris -- reported by to be $225,000 a year -- wasn't the only reason he chose them, but it was a competitive offer such that the Sounders were able to then win out because of his family ties to the club.

MLS introduced the Homegrown subsidy to help attract players at the beginning of their careers and avoid the situation that the Red Bulls ended up being in with Miazga, and that's paying him a ridiculously low salary (guaranteed compensation of $66,250, $71,250 and $74,500 over the last three years).

There's no guarantee that Miazga would have stayed if he had started out on Morris-type salary -- or he showed the potential Morris, three years into college, did -- but it would have certainly alleviated some of the inequities and given the Red Bulls a better bargaining position if they decided keeping him was important.

In the end, though, nothing was going to stop the Red Bulls from selling, given the usually high offer they got for Miazga, a defender with just one full season as a starter under his belt.

15 comments about "Three reasons why Matt Miazga's transfer is good for MLS".
  1. Greg Giese, January 28, 2016 at 9:22 a.m.

    Seriously? "In a perfect world, players would spend their entire careers in MLS, so clubs could maximize the exposure these players get and the good will they generate..." No. In my perfect world the MLS club academies would be developing players of the caliber that they would be distributed all over the world due to their quality and the competition for their services. Kinda like Brazil, Spain, etc.... Then for the heck of it they could get together every 4 years and be true World Cup contenders and win three times in a row....just saying.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, January 28, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    I think using the word perfect was perhaps a mistake. Paul made some good points though. NBA, MLB do have exclusivity. This is a great opportunity for MM, hopefully it will work out. Greg, free market-competition is the model and I agree. If MLS continues to grow and improve quality then we will become more competitive. Generally speaking, the more that foreign clubs continue to show interest, the more we can say that our young players are getting better. And, that's good news for the USMNT.

  3. BJ Genovese replied, January 29, 2016 at 11:04 a.m.

    Nobody ever talks about how much having a EU passport or dual citizenship really comes into play with regards to players going overseas. Many, many youth players could go overseas if they had this. Many go overseas who are good... not great... good. Meaning good enough for there academy. Its really hard for a player to get a work permit in England for soccer unless you got some great ties and are maybe a crazy phenom that is generating some good buzz over there. The problem with sending all our talent that does have the proper paperwork is that MLS and US soccer is always going to salivate over the transfer money from these potential kids. This will cause the MlS academies and US soccer to bring in kids more likely with EU passport/ dual citizenship that ones without. Its already happening folks. As if its not hard enough to climb the soccer ladder in the US.

  4. Scott Johnson replied, January 30, 2016 at 6:38 p.m.

    Huh? Neither the NBA nor MLB have "exclusivity"; there are plenty of foreign pro leagues for basketball and baseball. (The NFL is another matter). But, the NBA and Major League Baseball are both the TOP leagues in their respective sports. Many Spanish kids dream of playing hoops in the NBA rather than the ACB (Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto--the top Spanish basketball league/governing body), and a few have excelled here (most notably the Gasol brothers). Likewise, Japan's top baseball players come to the US to play in Major League Baseball rather than the domestic pro league--which is nonetheless big business in Japan.

    One difference, though, is that the ACB (or the other basketball leagues in Europe) don't appear to have dreams of someday being equal to the NBA; wherease many MLS fans seem to believe that the goal of MLS should be parity with La Liga or the Prem, and that any result short of that is failure. It could happen--this is a rich country in which more and more people are willing to pay big bucks to see pro soccer--but MLS is a big way off from the financial muscle to pay 8-figure salaries to top soccer talent. (NBA teams, of course, do pay 8-figure salaries to the LeBron James' and Stephen Curry's of the world, something foreign pro leauges simply cannot match).

  5. beautiful game, January 28, 2016 at 9:59 a.m.

    USSF should allocate $10M to MLS clubs for youth development. As for Miazga choice to go overseas; it's his decision for the future.

  6. John Soares, January 28, 2016 at 2:07 p.m.

    It's "Baby Steps" but very positive ones! If the progress of the last ten years continues at a similar pace. Ten years from now we could see a USMT that truly competes.... Where in the world these players are is not relevant. Ultimately MLS too will grow/improve and attract many of them.

  7. John Polis, January 28, 2016 at 2:27 p.m.

    I'm feeling good for the kid. He obviously shows he has a bright future and we all know that the EPL (and other leagues) have not been shy about signing young American players, once they are convinced that they have what it takes. Let's hope that Matt has the internal toughness that it takes to make it overseas -- the same type of toughness exemplified by Keller, Friedel and Howard when they went over. Heaven knows there have been some very good American players who could not cut it overseas (mainly personal reasons). The importance of this mental toughness cannot be overemphasized as a key to a successful pro career abroad.

  8. Wooden Ships replied, January 28, 2016 at 2:43 p.m.

    John, you're absolutely correct about the mental toughness-hunger. Besides the Keepers you mentioned we've had field players do well over there and continue to stay. MacBride was revered at his club, Bornstein, Deuce, Wynalda and players I'm leaving out. Some have shown that grit, the more the better. We have many younger ones, unprecedented numbers, over there now toiling and apprenticing.

  9. Allan Lindh, January 28, 2016 at 8:57 p.m.

    But none of it means a darn thing until you see every park in America with little kids running around kicking a #3 ball. Saddest thing in America, well one of the saddest, is all the beautiful green parks w/o a futbal in site. If you want to change the future, buy a little kid a ball.

  10. Wooden Ships replied, January 28, 2016 at 9:38 p.m.

    That's a good observation Allan. Most youth today are only playing unless its an organized practice. Not nearly enough time spent with the ball. To compound the problem are the worry parents have when kids are playing outside together. It's real embarrassing as a nation that we have allowed unsafe environments for children.

  11. Ric Fonseca replied, January 28, 2016 at 9:46 p.m.

    Would that be so easy, that is to convince both the parents and then good ole Dad that instead of getting extremely expensive US-football gear from helmet to pad, and shoes; or to have dad buy him an expensive baseball glove, the shoes, and entry fees to little league; or to buy them some very expensive and over the top basketball shoes, sign him up at a rec center to be coached and the pay the hefty fees for a Nike basketball camp and then try, just try and convince Dad and the little kid to go out and kick a ball around..... Well, you get my drift, right? So PLAY ON!!!

  12. BJ Genovese, January 29, 2016 at 10:57 a.m.

    Not to be the devils advocate... but lets take a little twist to this. First of all, this is great news for Matt Miazga. However should anyone be concerned with MLS academies deciding that youth players with EU passport or dual citizenship are more desireable? If they can sell players overseas (much simpler with PASSPORT/DUAL CITIZENSHIP) at a high rate and bring in big dollars... This is a reality already starting to happen. I can see already one player being better, howeve another just under his level but selected for EU passport/dual citizenship. As if its already not difficult enough for players to climb the youth developmental ranks here.

  13. Daniel Clifton, January 29, 2016 at 11:05 a.m.

    It is amazing to me how our children don't get out and play pick up games. Soccer is the best game for pick up games. I grew up playing American football in the neighborhood. Parents are so fearful something is going to happen to their children. When my son was 10 to 16 he used to go out and play pick up soccer, but there was always this one Dad who would get involved. Let the children be children. That is the best way to learn any sport.

  14. Wooden Ships, January 31, 2016 at 9:24 a.m.

    AA, very well said. This is undoubtedly true, and for more than just Hispanic youth too. How to transition from pay to play is the question? Having more and more quasi professional leagues would circumvent the privileged club system. Could the USSF abolish Pay to Play?

  15. Wesley Hunt, February 2, 2016 at 12:39 p.m.

    I agree AA. It is so much more straight forward and honest when the payout for for your training time and skill is measured in how much some one will pay to use it, rather than when it is payed in the front end of the process in the form of parents wanting training for there kids. In the first case you are accessed on how many of your kids have played at a high level. In the second case it is more of a sales job about how well your teams have done as that is what most parents look at when selecting soccer training for their kids.

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