It took a while to get through all the paperwork, but Maurice Edu is finally a Philadelphia Union player.
The Union announced Monday afternoon that they had finalized the deal, which is officially a one-year loan with an option to buy in 2015. The former U.S. national team midfielder/defender will be presented at a press conference on Tuesday at YSC Sports in Wayne at 12:30 p.m., after the first practice session of the day wraps up. It will be streamed live on the team's website, and hopefully here as well.
Edu will count as a Designated Player, but he'll be paid far less than the $1.2 million figure that was initially reported to be on the table. And yes, the Union did end up having to use the allocation ranking to get him.
Well, the fact that this is a loan to start may have something to do with it. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were full transfers, and their arrivals involved a transfer fee. As best I can tell, that's not the case with Edu. Because offically, the Union haven't truly "acquired" him yet. So the allocation process applies.
That's as much as I can figure out from talking to a lot of people around MLS. Nobody came to me and said it exactly what happened. It is my best attempt to draw a logical conclusion.
Now, I know a lot of you have accused MLS of treating the Union differently from Seattle and Toronto, whose DP signings were exempt from the allocation process. It is a perception that the league office is well aware of, and I have had a lot of people who know a lot about how MLS works come to me behind the scenes and wonder.
My answer: no.
My reasoning: Yes, the league office has quite a bit of flexibility in how it conducts player transactions. And there is a clear track record of that flexiblity being used over the years.
There is logic in saying that the determing factors are whether a player is purchased outright and whether the league pays the transfer fee. If the question is whether the league reached a logical conclusion, when logic has not necessarily always applied, then in this case I would say the answer is yes.
Will that satisfy people? No. Are there a lot of people out there who distinctly are not satisfied? Yes.
Would it solve the problem if MLS would be transparent about its roster rules, and would it prove as much as a bit TV contract would that the league has really grown up?
Absolutely and very much so.
A lot of people involved with MLS don't want to talk on the record about this stuff. They don't even want to be the sources in "sources said." That, too, is logical - and it is especially so in a calendar year when the league's collective bargaining agreement with its players union is set to expire.
If you are going to be certain, be certain of this: the players union has a lot of leverage with this stuff.
(We will see to what degree the players use that leverage relative to their other concerns.)
In the course of my conversations, I was given the following statement by the league:
As with most aspects of the business, the League, in consultation with the clubs, reviews the roster rules on an annual basis and reserves the right to modify them prior to each season. The amendment to the assignment mechanism for Designated Players will be reflected in the 2014 roster rules that will be released prior to the start of the season.
Something tells me you all won't be too satisfied by that statement. I'd say you shouldn't be.
And I've heard from more than enough people at the league and multiple clubs who genuinely believe that this will be the year when the rules get cleared up.
For now, the impression that I get is that bringing Edu in on a loan gets MLS across the tightrope. Now the league has until March 8 to live up to the promise it has made.
I would understand if throughout all of this, you've had a hard time trusting the league. I don't have the same degree of annoyance, or angst, or whatever you want to call it, mainly because I was pretty sure all along that the deal would get done eventually. And I know for a fact that the Union would have not traded for the top spot in the allocation ranking if they did not think it would be necessary.
When MLS commissioner Don Garber met the press at the SuperDraft, I asked him to give a clear benchmark as to when the league will have reached a point where it can be truly transparent. He didn't. Obviously, with the CBA hanging over his head, it wasn't in his interest to do so at that time. As I said above and many times before, every word that he says publicly is part of the negotiations.
But maybe you can trust the logic I've laid down here.
And if it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure that finishing the Vincent Nogueira deal won't require nearly as much confusion.