KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When I first heard about Philadelphia Independence first round draft pick Sarah Hagen's contract situation, I was intrigued.
Whether in Women's Professional Soccer or Major League Soccer, it's very rare that you see players in the draft pool who are under contract with other professional clubs.
Granted, the entire contract system in WPS is murky because of the league's financial situation. When it comes to the draft, the most certain tihng is that players can only be selected if they declare for the draft and register accordingly. Hagen clearly did that.
If you read my Independence draft recap in Saturday's Inquirer, or watched my video interview with Paul Riley, you saw what he had to say.
I was able to get more information about Hagen from two people who know her well that attended Friday's draft. One was Hagen's agent, Olaf Goldbecker; the other was one of her former coaches at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, assistant David Nikolic.
Here is what they told me.
Olaf Goldbecker, Hagen's agent
Can you explain the contract situation and how you expect it to be resolved?
She's under contract until June 30th. Her last game in the Bundesliga is the last weekend of May, and we just need to figure out how the situation will be one or two months from now. She just flew over to Munich this week, and she just had her first practice.
We just need to see how the situation develops in Germany. If the club is going to re-sign her, then there's a possibility to loan her [to the Independence] in the [Bundesliga] offseason, from June through August.
The other option is that if she doesn't want to stay in Europe, she'll just go to WPS.
How would you describe the relationship between the Frauen-Bundesliga and WPS? What differences are there between the leagues in terms of standards and things like that? Will we see more players go back and forth between the two leagues?
I can't say that there's a relationship between the leagues. It has to be seen. It's not so easy, because both leagues have their pride and are good quality leagues. I think both leagues are considered to be the top leagues in the world, so we just have to see how it happens.
In the future, it can work out, because the Bundesliga has a break during the summer and that is when WPS is playing. So there are options for this, of course. But if it's going to be a regular thing, it has to be seen if it will work out in the future.
The WPS season is not as long as men's soccer seasons around the world, including Major League Soccer. In addition to getting the players more money over the course of a calendar year, how important is it to get them more playing time?
In general, it's good for the players to play more. A season from April to October is pretty short, and if the contract is only for this time, it's only paying them for half of the year. So they have to get some occupation during the other times of the year.
In some leagues, they pay for all 12 months in a contract. It depends on the individual contract, but it's always good to get more playing time and experience overseas. This is what we're doing a lot, with having these contacts in Europe.
(For the record, Nikolic left UWM after last season to take an assistant coaching job at Northwestern.)
Is Hagen going to finish her college courses from abroad?
She's working on that right now. She's going to be doing some online stuff. She's an art major, so you can't really do too much stuff with that over the internet, but we're getting her on track with that.
College soccer has been criticized in some circles lately for having a season that is too short. MLS has expanded its season, perhaps with Jurgen Klinsmann's recent comments about its year being too short in mind.
What are your thoughts on getting American players more playing time over the course of a calendar year?
I think that for the player, [in order] to keep her sharp and to keep her playing at a level that we expect to see her at - and that she expects to be at – she needs to play. It's a perfect opportunity to go now and get herself primed for whatever her future is.
Her level is, right now, very high. So to go there now, she should be a dominant player. It will help her to get the games because, as you mentioned with Jurgen Klinsmann, when you send a player overseas to Europe, maybe they don't play much and are on the bench and training. But to get in the games is so important.
She will stay at that level because that's the type of player she is. She's good with both feet and she's a dominant player in the air. She needs to play games. Not just indoor games and keeping fit, it's playing soccer.