UPDATE: The Washington Post's Steven Goff reported Monday afternoon that the Union asked Freddy Adu to take a 75 percent pay cut if he wanted to continue to play with the team. Had Adu agreed, his resulting guaranteed annual salary would have been $129,750.
That is well below the Designated Player threshhold, as I wrote Sunday night. In the context of his teammates, if you go by the salary figures published last October, Adu would theoretically have the eighth-highest salary in the Union's locker room.
Admittedly, there are a lot of assumptions in that salary ranking - with the most significant one being that no one got a raise over last year's figures. But even if some of the players in the neighborhood of Adu's salary did get raises (and I think it's fair to believe that happened), a salary of $129,750 would likely still be in the top 10 on the team.
What you conclude from that is up to you.
In addition to Monday's news, I realized that I should have mentioned Sunday night what the Union's specific financial obligation to Adu is. I've added that figure below.
As the Freddy Adu saga has dragged on in recent weeks, the Union have made it clear that they are trying to get rid of their highest-paid player. Adu himself, however, has remained almost entirely silent since the end of last season.
On Sunday, we learned that Adu has finally spoken out.
Adu gave a statement to ESPN's Alexi Lalas, who presented it on air during halftime of the network's broadcast of the Portland Timbers-New York Red Bulls game:
The entire situation saddens me. While I have made mistakes and am trying to learn from them, a lot of what is said about me is not accurate. The truth is that I have been frozen out by the Philadelphia Union solely because I refuse to take a huge pay cut.
I am prepared to honor my contract with the Union, or any other club in MLS. and I don't think what has to happen to me is right...
All I want to do now is play soccer and try to progress my career. But I will stay strong in my position and hope that I can be back out on an MLS field soon.
Adu's remarks will certainly stir up a reaction in Philadelphia and beyond. Fans, media and coaches alike have long wondered how a player of Adu's talents has repeatedly failed to establish himself at any club - in MLS or elsewhere - with the kind of consistency required for his career to truly flourish.
But before you extend too much sympathy towards Adu's plight, it's worth considering that his remarks represent just one side of the story.
As Lalas pointed out on TV after reading Adu's statement, the portion of designated player salaries that fall under the salary cap paid for equally by all of Major League Soccer's team owners. The remainder of the salary is paid for by the team which signed the player.
Adu's guaranteed annual salary as of the end of last season was $519,000. As he is a Designated Player, his hit against the $2.95 million salary cap is $368,750, according to Major League Soccer's roster rules.
So here's some math. The Union's current financial obligation to Adu this year is 1/19th of the collective payment of his salary by MLS' owners, plus the additional money on top of the DP cap hit:
1/19 x $519,000 + (519,000 - $368,750) = $177,569.79
I have been told, as have other reporters, that Adu and his agent have turned down multiple offers for Adu's services from foreign teams. I've also been told that there are multiple MLS teams that would trade for Adu if the Union was willing to pay a significant portion (at least) of Adu's salary.
As Adu's salary is guaranteed through the 2014 season, it would cost the Union approximately $1.3 million to buy Adu out.
(There, in a nutshell, is the contrast: $177,576.79 versus $1.3 million.)
But the Union lost a significant incentive to do so once the MLS season began on Saturday. As the roster rules state:
(D) BUYOUT OF GUARANTEED CONTRACT
Teams may have the ability to buyout one guaranteed player as follows:
- A Team may buy out one (1) guaranteed player (including a DP’s) contract during the off-season and free up the corresponding budget space. Such a buyout is at the particular MLS Team’s own expense.
- A Team may not free up budget space with a buyout of a player’s salary budget charge during the season. Such a buyout will be conducted by the League and count on a Club’s budget in a manner consistent with current MLS guidelines.
In other words: because the Union did not buy out Adu's contract before the season started, they will not be able to free up any salary cap space by doing so now. As such, the Union must either trade Adu within the league or sell him abroad in order to free up the cap space he occupies.
You don't have to look too long for hidden meaning in Adu's remarks to conclude that his willingness to "honor my existing contract with the Union, or any other club in MLS" means that he wants to continue earning his current salary.
If Adu was willing to accept a pay cut - and yes, it would be significant, as the Union would surely seek to bring his salary below Designated Player status - then the team might be much more willing to welcome Adu back to its locker room.
That hasn't happened, and as a result, the Union have indeed 'frozen' Adu out. Manager John Hackworth has not been willing to comment publicly about Adu's situation since January, and the same goes for the rest of the team's coaching staff and front office.
But the amount of scrutiny aimed at the Union and Adu is likely to only increase in the wake of Sunday's news.
I have been asked many times in recent weeks for my thoughts on Adu's situation, and my answer has always been the same: ask Adu, not me, because he's the only one who truly knows what the future holds.
You can criticize the Union for not being willing to spend the money to buy Adu out. There are teams in MLS that have the resources to do so. We saw it happen with multiple designated players during the offseason: Kris Boyd in Portland, Hamdi Salihi in D.C., and most recently Christian Tiffert in Seattle.
But as I said before, there have been many attempts to move Adu out of PPL Park. It's just as reasonable - if not more so - to conclude that the burden of proof now lies much more with Adu than the Union.