Potential moves by young MLS stars create huge dilemma

On Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps play the Seattle Sounders in the Cascadia Cup -- the 114th meeting between the clubs in a series that dates back to the old NASL in 1974.

It's a big game for the Caps, currently two points out of a playoff spot with four losses in their last five games, but they might be without 17-year-old star Alphonso Davies.

The Liberian-born Canadian international didn't attend practice on Friday and his status for the game on Saturday was described as "unknown" amid speculation that he might be sold.

The Athletic reported Friday night that Bayern Munich had the inside track to acquire Davies for a transfer fee of $12 million (plus contingencies) that would break the MLS record for a transfer set when Jozy Altidore was sold by the New York Red Bulls to Spain's Villarreal for $10 million in 2018.

Any deal is complicated by the fact that Davies is only 17 -- he doesn't turn 18 until Nov. 2 -- and Bayern wouldn't be able to register him during the current transfer window that closes Aug. 31. It would have to wait until Jan. 1, 2019, to register him, but there is speculation that Davies will want to move to Germany now and train in the interim -- like American Josh Sargent did at Werder Bremen last winter.

Davies is an exceptional young MLS talent, as he showed with the goal he scored against D.C. United in the Audi Field opener last Saturday when he wiggled past four defenders and fired a left-footed rocket inside the far post, but $12 million is a lot of money for a 17-year-old and gives Bayern a lot of bargaining power.

Davies isn't the only young MLS star possibly on the move this summer. Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron has attracted lots of interest from clubs in England, and the Five Stripes, in the running for an MLS title in only their second season, face the dilemma of selling him now -- in mid-season -- for maximum value or waiting until January when the European transfer market is slower. Absent switching to a calendar adopted by most European countries, this is always going to be a problem.

As MLS clubs go into selling mode -- entering the international transfer market in a serious way -- they are faced with the prospect of disappointing loyal fans who care about only one thing -- winning a trophy -- if they move players during the summer.

It's been suggested that fans will accept their favorite MLS clubs becoming selling clubs and losing young stars after a couple of seasons like fans at top college basketball programs have come to accept that the best players will turn pro after one or two seasons.

Davies was promoted to the Caps' first team two years ago this week, while Almiron has been with Atlanta for a season and a half. They've been in MLS about as long as a sophomore leaving for the NBA.

Chances are they'll stay through the end of the 2018 season. But if they or other young stars leave in the summer, that's not like college basketball players turning pro early.

The Dukes and Kentuckys of college basketball would never accept losing their young stars to the NBA in January.
2 comments about "Potential moves by young MLS stars create huge dilemma".
  1. R2 Dad, July 21, 2018 at 7:22 a.m.

    1.  Garber has insisted MLS won't change their seasonal format, so this problem has existed since day 1 and isn't changing. Do MLS teams really care about disappointing their fans by selling mid-season? One could argue teams like the Earthquakes view fan disapproval as an inconvenience inasmuch as it might hurt liquor sales at the biggest bar west of the Mississippi.
    2. $12M is a lot of coin to fund the academy. Whether ownership chooses to spend the money that way is their choice, but smart clubs invest in themselves; poor clubs issue special dividends/bonuses or increase their overhead.
    3. Garber can push the rock up the hill all he wants, but MLS will become stronger and American soccer served better by taking the money, just like every other feeder league does. The only way this changes is if MLS teams decides to improve the quality of product on the field and build their system to reflect that. Until training with the first team becomes a crucible, top talent will go looking for that crucible wherever it exists. Chris Richards on going to Bayern: "One of my plans was to get to Europe as fast as possible which I think that is any soccer player’s plans since Europe has the best leagues." And why was he in the FC Dallas organization? "Dallas understood that and realized that." Apparently 'Dallas has a reputation of promoting homegrown players to their first team — another major factor in Richards decision to sign with them (Bayern).'
    4. Who has claim to that $12M? Since FC Dallas only had him since 2017, I'd imagine other youth clubs in Hoover Alabama should share in the spoils. I don't care which law Garber hides behind, the ethical thing to do, like the rest of the soccer world, is share this fee with youth clubs that were involved in training this player. Maybe Carlos Cordeiro can grow and spine and exert some influence in this conversation but why would he? Since Couva, everyting is fine, just fine.

  2. Giorgio Cabanas, July 21, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.

    "...when Jozy Altidore was sold by the New York Red Bulls to Spain's Villarreal for $10 million in 2018". Really? 2018? Why does every article have misinformation and typos? And no one at SA even comments. Ives Galarcep at SBIsoccer.com replies to readers. It would be nice if the editors at SA cared enough about their product to do the same. 

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications