The Brian McBride Situation Explained
|I've been reading a lot of speculation regarding the US soccer legend's return to MLS, and I thought it would be good to write a small post detailing the facts of the situation.|
1) McBride will play for the Chicago Fire.
He's from the Chicago area, and he's had no contact with the Crew in the past year. Though that article suggests that contact was attempted, it's still highly unlikely that he's headed to the Crew given the comments his agent/brother has admitting that discussions have occurred with the Fire here. You don't even have to read between the lines, it's simply obvious. And he had the chance to sign with Columbus last year but didn't.
2) Toronto FC will trade the highest ranking allocation to the Fire so that they can sign McBride.
Toronto currently holds the top allocation after San Jose used theirs on Peguero Jean-Philippe (ouch). Allocations are becoming more and more worthless as MLS grows up, but they still are important when USMNT players come back from Europe. That's how players like Conor Casey, Tony Sanneh, and Landon Donovan were signed over the past few years. And just like the Donovan situation, you have a player who will only play for one team which means that a deal will have to be made. Back in 2005, Carlos Ruiz was traded by Los Angeles to Dallas for the top allocation one day before Donovan officially came back. Just like that scenario, McBride will not officially sign the contract until the Fire and TFC work out a deal. So while it may be reported that Toronto has the first crack at him, there is no virtually no chance of him actually playing for them. I wish the media would realize that.
3) The deal.
I noticed a few mentions about the rights to Will Johnson on Bigsoccer. Johnson was the young Canadian who played for the Fire in 2005, then left for Heerenveen in the offseason after rejecting a minimum salary contract for 2006. Due to that offer, the Fire still own his rights. I thought that would expire over time, but the rules say "indefinitely" and that's the case, since Houston owned Ramiro Corrales' rights until trading them a few months ago (and he left the league after 2004). The Fire have no use for Johnson so it would be a very probable move to include his rights in any deal.
That won't be enough, though. They could always include a draft pick, but Toronto already has a bunch of those and can't make as much use out of them compared to other teams due to their international player restrictions. A decent player is likely to be included in any deal, especially since the Fire would have to clear a senior roster spot anyway. Logan Pause and Dasan Robinson seem like the most likely choices due to not being essential to the team as well as cheap. It would have to be somebody Toronto would actually want and be willing to use a international slot on (though those slots can be trade bait themselves), so as much as I would like to see somebody like Calen Carr go, it's not gonna happen. On the other hand, TFC doesn't have too much bargaining power because of what I mentioned earlier. It's hard to tell who Mo Johnston would want since there aren't any former Metros to trade for :).
4) DP or not DP?
I sincerely doubt McBride would comeback as a designated player. It would make his arrival so much more complicated, and would require a weakening of the team that wouldn't be worth his signing. Not to mention that he's obviously not coming back for the money, and I also doubt he wants to hurt the team he's coming back to. He'll probably get a $300-400k contract for the next year and a half (and then retire). That may require that the Fire move a player to get under the cap (Conde or Frankowski?), who knows. Pretty sure MLS contracts count against the cap based on their total yearly value and cannot be prorated just for a portion of the season (so if McBride signed for $400k in July, he would only be paid about half of that but the whole amount would count against the cap).
5) We'll probably have to wait another month for the deal to be made.
"Even if a deal is worked out between the Fire and Toronto for McBride, he would not be able to join the Fire until the July 15 transfer window. He is not expected to leave England until mid June when his kids are out of school." - link
There'll be plenty of time to negotiate and get it all settled out. July 1, however, is a key date because that's when contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season. So if you see the Fire waive Frankowski on June 30th, for example, that should tell you what's gonna happen.
6) Olympics should not be a factor.
Even if Mcbride played in the Olympics, he would be back for at least the Fire's final 8 games which is over 25% of the season and plenty of time to get integrated into the squad. I personally would like to see him go to China; it would be a nice way to get him into good form.