D.C. United draft pick Jacobson signs with Lorient


When D.C. United drafted Cal midfielder Andrew Jacobson, it thought it landed one of the best central midfield prospects in the MLS Draft, a player who was seen as a long-term prospect and potential starter.

So much for those plans.

French club Lorient has formally announced the signing of Jacobson. Ouch.

Jacobson’s departure leaves D.C. with Clyde Simms and not much else at the defensive midfield role, though Ben Olsen could still be used there if needed. D.C. lost veteran Brian Carroll in the expansion draft.

The business of drafting players is getting tougher and tougher.

D.C. fans aren’t likely to shed too many tears. Not after introducing an army of new players this week, led by designated player and star playmaker Marcello Gallardo.

What do you think of Jacobson’s departure? Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Americans Abroad, European Soccer, Major League Soccer, MLS- D.C. United. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to D.C. United draft pick Jacobson signs with Lorient

  1. kpugs says:


  2. kpugs says:

    I mean gee whiz, that’s too darn bad.

  3. Adam says:

    Maybe if MLS teams played thier players they would not lose them to Europe!

  4. TK says:

    It seems that youngsters here are finally learning the lesson.

    More opportunities and better pay in Europe.

    We lost Gabe and I pray we don’t lose Kassel either.

    These kids, if they have the mental strength, can go to Europe and earn more. More often they can play more if the club has a decent reserve/youth system, while our reserves ar elimited at the time.

    I feel that we could lose a lot more youngters in the Metro area than we sign. Without any comp.

    Something to keep an eye out for to say the least.

  5. TK says:

    Adam, I agree. I have never ever understood why MLS coaches play their younger guys so sparingly. Especially in cups comp and when league games meant so little. With Philly’s inclusion to 16 theyu will mean more.

    Pay and play are the issues. Pay can only be resolved in time, but play is something I blame on the coaches here in MLS. If there ever was a league where a kid could get a run of games, and it wouldn’t hurt the team that much, it’s here.

    Never understood it.

  6. Haig says:

    Eh, DC’s pretty well stocked anyhow.

    Amazing how few American players they have. Their fans used to be loudly, obnoxiously proud of the fact that in the late Sampson/early Arena era, playing for DC United basically automatically gave you a shot at playing for the USA. Now there’s only Ben Olsen, and he’s very borderline. DC fans don’t say much about the US now, except to try to claim that mediocrities like Marc Burch and Clyde Simms should be playing for the US, which gives everyone else a belly laugh.

  7. Andolini says:

    MLS guys need to get paid — bottom line. But is the fan support there to pay their salaries? And Does the US have the talent to lose this many players to Europe and still keep MLS play at a high level? If so, I don’t think salaries will change.

  8. Haig says:

    By the way, any news on Danny Cepero’s training stint with PSV?

  9. SeaOtter says:


    I thought that in order for a player to be in the draft they had to sign with MLS.

    How can they leave on what is essentially a ‘free’ if they have signed with the league?

    I’m sure I just have a poor understanding of the draft situation.

    Anyway, MLS better learn quickly. $17K and the ability to stay in the US does NOT equal $100K plus and the chance at European football. They are way behind the curve in that regard and its only going to get worse as Europe is learning that there are great bargains here in The States.


  10. John Edwards Hair says:

    I’ve read the Lorient web site and find it interesting that the old 3rd string Chicago Fire Frenchman, Pascal Bodrosian, tipped off the club to Jacobson.

    How can DCU let a guy who played 23 minutes in the league out flank them?

  11. Joe says:

    Sucks to loose a good prospect. But the you gotta respect him for giving it a try in a superior league. I think we’ll be okay though. Our recent signings will allow us to continue to dominate everybody (except Chicago).

  12. J1m B says:

    I don’t think the move has anything to do with playing time. I doubt the kid will make many first team games this year.

  13. Haig says:

    Seaotter, you have it wrong.

    Some players DO sign prior to the draft, the “Generation Adidas” classification, who are identified as the top picks and get a better deal than everyone else.

    But MLS doesn’t sign every draftable player to a deal. There are a lot of rated players who go undrafted (Balc?), a lot of unrated players who ARE drafted (look at Jeff Parke), and some players who are rated and drafted but who aren’t interested in MLS (Lapira).

    The Gen Adidas players are the only sure bets.

  14. Steve says:

    Agreed, the league should work to raise salary cap and developmental contracts. However, MLS has to be very careful with its finances. Remember, some of these clubs have never turned a profit on their own. Beckham, and the TV deal certainly help, but if you raised the cap to 6 million, the league would go the way of the NASL.

  15. Steve (not the same one who just posted) says:

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer team!

    My namesake with the previous post hit the nail on the head. We all want MLS to rival European leagues overnight and last year made us think we had arrived but unfortunately we’re still en route.

    American fans who want the MLS to have higher payrolls and better players need to keep going to games and buying jerseys and spreading the word. The fan base is ultimately the foundation on which the whole thing is built.

  16. alex says:

    You have to invest something to get something back. Beckham isn’t the only way to attract fans to your games. Having a quality product helps as well.

    It’s a catch 22, because you need fans to sustain a high quality product, but you need a good quality product to get the fans.

    However, up until now i could only describe MLS’s “efforts” to raise pay as terrible. If you index the cap to inflation since 96, it has hardly moved.

  17. Vision says:

    DC already reported that he’s already training with DCU.

  18. Modibo says:

    About time – more US players should be seeking their fortunes in the French leagues. He’s only signed with L’Orient till the end of the current season, though. Still, the money’s going to be better than MLS, and even if he gets loaned to a Ligue 2 team for a while he gets Euro exposure.

    Let’s hope L’Orient don’t switch managers soon – that’ll sink his boat quick. But they’re 7th in the table, well out of relegation range.

  19. Jay says:

    In addition to Steve (and Steve), the financial situtation is directly related to the stadium issues. Teams like NY and DC, that play in huge stadiums they don’t own, are just leaking huge amounts of money all the time. Once we have all teams (or all but 2 or 3) in their own stadiums, the league will be turning a profit and be able to increase salaries. Until then, we’re just going to hemmorhage talented young players and play in half empty stadiums…

  20. Andrew says:

    DCU seems to be low-balling many of their draft picks recently…Jay Needham was able to make more money in the USL than in MLS. There is something extremely wrong when essentially a minor league is able to pay players more.

  21. CD says:

    Looking at the photos of Mr Jacobson in the empty stadium holding his jersey it appears the L’Orient fan base is pretty fired up about their new American signing.

  22. fuego@fanatico.com says:

    Ives and Modibo,

    There is no apostrophe in “(FC) Lorient”. L’Orient would translate to “The Orient”.

    It’s just Lorient, a city in the Brittany region of France.

    Allez Saint Etienne!

  23. EDB says:

    Here is what we don’t know. What he was offered , and his impression of MLS. Maybe the money was similar but he felt playing in the French league would provide him more exposure to the better european leagues. If anything I think if MLS starts putting more players in the top end competition in Europe it will only help the league develop

  24. KingSnake says:

    Forcing a potential player to go where he doesn’t want to go, to play for barely above minimum wage, without freedom of movement, is a dying economic model. Especially when you don’t have a cartel. Eventually, MLS will get that clue.

  25. Haig says:

    “DCU seems to be low-balling many of their draft picks recently”

    They need to keep expenses low because they’re building that amazing new stadium in the District.


  26. Rocko says:

    Seems like Haig sure has a lot of jealousy towards DCU.

    Could it be because DCU wins trophies and the Red Pukes fire coaches??

  27. dan says:

    moving to europe at an early age can be risky… the americans who do well in europe generally are the ones that have played in the MLS for a year or more and understand the life of a professional soccer player… going to europe from college means a lot of work with the reserves and an occasional (if lucky) first team play.

    though the MLS is no EPL, it is a valuable training ground for becoming a soccer professional.

  28. Haig says:

    I’m jealous of Houston/San Jose and the Galaxy, who in this milennium have won multiple MLS Cups.

    DC have only won the league a single time in the eight seasons since MLS became a legitimate, credible competition. And until every team plays every other team the same number of times, home and away, the Supporters Shield is meaningless.

    It’s hard to really care about the 1996 to 1999 era, when MLS featured shootouts and the league didn’t give teams the freedom to operate without Sunil Gulati handing out sweetheart deals to players he liked, then sticking teams with the contracts. Any trophy won in that era isn’t worth using as a doorstop.

    So as far as I’m concerned, DC has won one trophy. You can pretend the other ones mean something, but everyone knows the truth. The league championship is the MLS Cup, and that’s the only trophy that matters.

  29. tex says:

    MLS is a feeder league and nothing more. Soccer is still maybe the 5th most important sport in the USA.

  30. Tim F. says:

    MLS has to start paying players more or this is just the beginning of things to come.

  31. KingSnake says:

    Unlike the sweetheart deals MLS makes with the favored team of the moment now-days, eh?

  32. mike honcho says:

    I’m curious. Does anyone know anything about this kid? Pretty impressive he got signed for a Ligue One club.

  33. Hincha Tim says:

    From the beginning, the MLS has gotten bassackwards. From Day 1, the league should have demanded that each team invest HEAVILY in their youth systems. They should have mandated that within 10 years 6 players on the field has to be from a an MLS team’s youth system. Then, from the beginning the MLS would have grown with its own players and not leached off the USL, colleges and youth systems but worked with them. Fans would have maintained interest, even if the level was not so great at first, because they were watching their own ‘local’ kids compete and improve. Now, the MLS finds itself painted into the corner because they haven’t invested in their own future from the beginning and are having to compete for players who have no intrinsic allegiance to the MLS who had no part in their development. Just think if the MLS had started at the USL league 1 level with an emphasis on player development. Over the last 12 years they would have grown along with the players they developed.

  34. h4 says:

    I wish MLS would be more of a feeder league. I think players (and the league) should insist on buyout clauses in more contacts. If a guy knows that if he goes to MLS and does well, he can leave for an amount a lot of teams, even in smaller Euro leagues, would pay (50k and up), the league would probably get more young players to give MLS a try, and generate some revenue to keep players and attact new ones.

  35. Kim says:

    In addition to the difference in pay, young American players considering where to ply their trade must also consider how reluctant/stingy MLS can be when it comes to letting recognized talent transfer overseas. If I am a young player with options, I would probably view MLS as a fall back. If, however, MLS had a proven track record of helping kids like me achieve our ambitions, I would be more willing to consider it as a starting point to my career thereby enabling MLS to make money off the export of American players. As it is, more American talent is leaving and MLS is making nothing off of it.

  36. Kris says:

    From what I read on transfermarketweb.com, it’s only a 6-month stint.

    IVES: Does that mean that once he’s done and if for some reason were to want to come back to the US, DCU would still have the rights?

  37. Haig says:

    There’s a conflict between MLS’ desire to project itself to American sports fans as, like NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, a “major league,” and the fact that MLS competes with every other professional sports league in the world for talented players in a way that the big four don’t have to. (Maybe the NHL is getting to be more like MLS, but even in countries with serious professional hockey, the infrastructure and interest in the sport is significantly less than that of soccer.)

    Sale of players has always been an obvious revenue stream, but the MLS model has been based on suppressing player wages and trapping players in MLS, while at the same time calling itself “Major League.” That is working less and less with the weak dollar and the increasing talent level in the US, and as televised international soccer becomes more ubiquitous.

    The league either needs to bite the bullet and pay players according to the prevailing wage to keep “major league” talent in Major League Soccer, or accept that it is a feeder league– a minor league– and look to maximize transfer fees as an important revenue source while at the same time being able to recruit players by respecting their wishes about transfers.

    There ain’t another option.

  38. Haig says:

    “Does that mean that once he’s done and if for some reason were to want to come back to the US, DCU would still have the rights?”

    Rights to unsigned drafted players extend to the end of the following year. For Jacobson, that’s through Dec 31 2009.

  39. Q says:

    For the short term, us DCU fans are ok. We are stacked with talent (except at D-Mid where Jacobson would’ve played). Long term, this sucks. They will need to find some other high quality players. Nothing against Clyde, but he only has one foot. The other is just for walking. He did an okay job last year, but by time he was starting, there was already chemistry with the other players that wasn’t there in the beginning of the season. This is why they played well as the season progressed, not b/c of Clyde as others say. We needed Jacobsen to come in and help us within the next couple of years, but I would’ve done the same thing if I were trying to get paid more. Just a bad draft decision for DCU.

  40. Jason says:

    Once again, Haig is wrong. Some players do sign with the league before the draft. However, only underclassmen and non-college players under a certain age (18 or so) can sign a Generation Adidas contract.

  41. aj says:

    something that not a single commenter has mentioned is the huge disparity in wages between the mls and european leagues. surely that is a factor for jacobson in making his decision on where to play.

  42. Haig says:

    Jason, this is what I said:

    “Some players DO sign prior to the draft, the “Generation Adidas” classification, who are identified as the top picks and get a better deal than everyone else.

    “But MLS doesn’t sign every draftable player to a deal. There are a lot of rated players who go undrafted (Balc?), a lot of unrated players who ARE drafted (look at Jeff Parke), and some players who are rated and drafted but who aren’t interested in MLS (Lapira).

    “The Gen Adidas players are the only sure bets.”

    I await your retraction.

  43. Matt says:

    I understand where Haig and the rest of you are coming from. Yes, MLS is a feeder league to an extent and will be for quite some time. However you can’t just say “raise the salaries”.

    The defining factor there is what US fans will pay for. Doubling the salary cap sounds good but effectively it will be the same players getting paid more money. Do you really believe more fans will buy tickets if they fine out that the players average $150K rather than $80K?

    How much we think players should make is irrelvent. How much money the public will pay is more important.

    Who do you really believe will show up in our league that will make a difference in attendance. I can just see some Chicago executive saying “this frenchman we just signed that was sitting the bench in the portuguese second division will bring in thousands of fans because he played in Europe!! And just think of the thousands of ethnic french that will show up because one of their countrymen is among the 22 men on the field!!!!”

    In the end, the majority of americans don’t care about the sport regardless of quality on field. They are not saying “well I looked at MLS but they don’t pass well and the last bit of quality could be better so I won’t watch.”

    This is a forty year project that will take 2 more generations to get the sport in the public’s mind as a spectator sport. Live with it. Take the league as is and enjoy it.

    Though I hate to see good players leave, if they can make three times at much money in leagues where the teams actually make money, good for them. In reality, MLS has more good imported players in it than we have exported good players to other countries. On the balance, we are a buying league.

    Too bad people continue to demand that New York and Chicago be Real Madrid or Inter Milan.

  44. Matt says:

    The guys I really feel bad for are the $17K “development players”. There are 4-6 players on every roster that are working for less than minimum wage on their “interships” are doing so the top player on the roster can get another $100K.

    I can just see some idiot GM Saying, “Why, we have to do that!! With that extra $100K we can get Ronaldinho!!!”

  45. Amit says:

    Everyone realizes that MLS is a feeder league of sorts. Its just that the number of players leaving this year is alarming. I feel bad for Taylor Twellman, but can the league really let him go at this point? Can MLS 2008 be better than 2007, arguably the best season of play in the league’s history? Let’s pray that it is.

  46. Ed Ho says:

    First, I’ll agree that the average and especially the development player wage needs to increase in MLS or the quality of play will suffer. This is a necessary investment.

    Second, I think this type of signing is more a reflection on the quality and quantity of players in the US continues to improve. This isn’t the excpetion, more international teams will scout the US for young talent. I think the high tide can float the MLS boat if they strategically sign young players.

    Third, in case most people haven’t noticed, MLS has reacted to these changes by looking to Central and South American for its young talent. Much of the young MLS talent doesn’t come from the US. The US players don’t get playing time because they aren’t good enough.

    Finally, I love the insightful business consulting I get to see on this board. MLS has plenty of problems, but the mere fact that thi smany people care about MLS lack of signing a no name player that people didn’t even know existed today, shows just how far its come and how vested everyone in wanting to see the league succeed. That is good stuff.

  47. beckster says:

    DCU has taken a lot of young guys and played them – Perkins, Boswell, Caroll etc. So we lose one. Big deal. Olsen is better than Simms at DM and lots of depth on the wings. Not a problem.

  48. socmin says:

    Matt and Ed Ho, thank you for a little dose of comment reality. What was the NFL like in 1940? Baseball’s history was long and full of grassroots culture. The NBA floats in and out of America’s consciousness, and, for all its efforts, the NHL is still just a niche sport. Let’s be realistic, let’s enjoy being here at the beginning of something that will eventually become better and bigger than it is now. We know that most sportwriters are viciously hateful toward the sport, so we should not expect to get any assistance from that area. For us, however, some complaining does come from the fact that we care about something, but the constant carping from all of these “business executives” offering their financial and organizational advice does get a bit tiresome. Here’s to MLS 2008 being better than 2007!

  49. papa bear says:

    Matt: I would never want my Fire to be InteMilan. Barca or Bayern is more like it. :) Honestly, though Matt, more people would buy tickets if the players make more. Part of the attraction of sports is seeing ‘why that loser is worth a million bucks’ most people see MLS and think ‘I suck enough at soccer to be paid $17K’ I knew people in LA and Chicago who had no prior interest or knowledge in soccer who went out to see why Beckham and Blanco (both whom they’d never heard of) are worth multi-millions. Money is a big draw in the US.
    Seriously, this is no shock. The kid is already in his 20’s and MLS simply doesn’t pay that much to newbies.
    When they raise the cap this might change a bit but it’s not changing soon. The league needs to get more teams nearing the black.
    If MLS was smart, they’d dump single entity ASAP. They’d make it much easier to sign youth players without exposing them to other teams and field teams of 18 year olds. People need to drop this notion that you MUST go to college to be a pro athlete. It honestly ruins the educational experience for true scholars to have most of those boneheads there filling up classes as it is.

  50. papa bear says:

    socmin: the NFL was already pretty well established in 1940 in most areas and that was roughly 20 years after the first Bears v. Packers game launched the league. The NBA was also well established after about 20 years and Hockey was in the same boat before the strike killed it. 20 years is generally the make or break point for most leagues (see NASL) even baseball was solidified in about it’s 20th year. Basically MLS has 10 more years to ‘S’ or get off the pot. If it’s still ‘developing’ at that time, it will fold. It doesn’t have a 40-60 year time frame to get it’s act together. Not saying it’ll be La Liga in that time but it should be a well oiled, high level machine by then. If not, it will fold. You can take that to the bank.
    Also, re: the biz advice…uhhh…isn’t that kinda the joy of following sports? (also, many people on these boards may come from business backgrounds 😉 ) That’s like when people complain about someone criticizing a coach since ‘he gets paid for it and you don’t’ It’s a rather silly argument and you basically reduce sports blogs/pages/forums to ‘here is the score’ ‘hooray we won!’ ‘boo we lost’ not quite so much fun.

  51. Ed Ho says:

    Papa Bear,

    Fair point on the culture surrounding sports. I am not saying that people can’t offer their advice and input. I’m merely saying that a lot of it is backward looking and inane.

    Now, if people really think that paying a bunch of crappy players higher salaries or starting youth academies with poor players 10 years ago in MLS was a financially viable move (in retrospect), I just happen to disagree. I much more enjoy it when people make arguments on how the league and soccer in the US can be improved going forward. Like, for example, why does MLS have a draft anyway? Shouldn’t they just move down the ladder and sign these players eariler in the career?

  52. Liverpool_SC says:

    And until every team plays every other team the same number of times, home and away, the Supporters Shield is meaningless.

    I long for the day when we get a balanced schedule. However, I would not use it as an excuse to discredit DC’s Supporter Shields. Heck, the Eastern Conference is TOUGHER so the unbalanced schedule makes Supporter Shield even harder than it would be in a balanced league.

    Just think. DC United went 0w-1t-3l in its first four games last year, spotting the league 11 points … and then ended up winning Supporters Shield before the last game of the season. Pretty impressive for a team with a new coach, 50% roster turnover and a host of extra games to play.

    I wonder what they will manage to do this season.

    All credit to the Dynamo. They are a great team. But DC United (first team to repeat as Supporters Shield holders) achieved a great accomplishment in the new and improved MLS.

  53. ejs says:

    Marco Balloteli is better than Pato

  54. Joe says:

    I would kill to have Benny Feilhaber join Jacobson at Lorient or any other French team, even Ligue 2, as there is so much parity in those two divisions. He would get more playing time than with Derby, and would play in a league that suits his style the best out of any league in Europe. L1 is similar to the Bundesliga except the size of the players is a little smaller, but they are a bit quicker, IMHO. As a result, the ball is kept on the ground more than in the Bundesliga. It is my favorite league to watch for these reasons, and I’d kill to have Benny be a part of it…argh, it’s so frustrating because I know he can thrive there. Big shouts to Jacobson going there (we need more Nats playing there), even if he spurned my DCU.

  55. Haig says:

    Still awaiting Jason’s retraction for lying.

  56. One of the things I love about soccer is that it is the most international of sports. I sort of enjoy watching the migration of players from south america to north, and from north america to europe. Its just economics. The mls is clearly a minor league on an international stage, but it is still the highest level we have and I enjoy it. I agree w the few who said the mls should not try to trap players but encourage the revenue and the cred that comes from their guys transferring to a big league. My local double A baseball club has posters up of everyone who moved thru and went on to the “bigs”. Its a source of pride.
    The money is based on fan support, and more importantly tv revenue. The fact is our sport is not that tv friendly. (Or sponser friendly). If they really wanted to chase the money they could tinker with the rules to open up scoring (as the nfl has and continues to do) and add commercial breaks – the real lifeblood of tv money. I don’t think too many of us would support that. I know I would not. I’d prefer to keep the “minor league” status, route for RBNY and the mls in general, follow and route for the yanks abroad, and hope for the next good find from south america lands in NJ. And we get plenty of good international soccer to watch when I want to follow the majors

  57. I also appreciated kpugs Dr Evil laugh…

  58. Modibo says:

    Anyone who’s interested and can read French can check out an interview with Jacobsen’s coach at Berkeley (Kevin Grimes) on Mercato 365: link to mercato365.com

    He says, among other things, that J. dreamed of playing in Europe but thought he’d pass through MLS first, until it took too long to get him in contract. Grimes also says if they give him a few weeks to get back in shape he’ll be able to make an impact. Also that the system at Lorient is the same as the one at Berkeley (!?), so the transition should be easy. Hope so, cause he’s only in contract through the end of the season with Lorient.

    Good luck to you, Andrew, hope to see more about your exploits soon.