Photo by Brad Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The 2014 MLS SuperDraft may have dominated much of the talk in American and Canadian soccer circles on Thursday, but it was not the only topic grabbing headlines.
MLS commissioner Don Garber met with reporters in Philadelphia during the three-hour draft to discuss a bevy of topics regarding the league right now, including the ongoing negotiations with U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Maurice Edu and the Camilo-Vancouver Whitecaps-Queretaro saga.
On the Edu front, Garber said the Philadelphia Union are still in negotiations with the veteran midfielder and that there was not much else to report at the time. Garber also vehemently came to the defense of MLS, which has been criticized by fans and pundits in recent days for blocking the Union from making a pricey move for Edu despite it helping Toronto FC shell out some major coin for midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jermaine Defoe earlier this week.
“There was way too much made of the league role in this,” said Garber said of the Edu negotiations. “I want to be very clear, whether it’s our league or any other league, player signings are approved by the league, so this is no different than any other transaction. The league office is going to review and is going to be very engaged in what players get paid and what their contract length is, etc., etc.
“In this particular case, (the Union are) going to continue to negotiate a deal that’s going to make sense. If it makes sense for Maurice, he will come back. If it doesn’t make sense for Maurice, he won’t come back. But this whole idea that the league rejected Maurice coming in, we reject deals every day if we don’t agree that they’re the right deal. I think many of the media folks that I’ve read some reports, not all thought the salary was the right salary either. They’re going to go back to the drawing board and hopefully get a deal done.”
Garber did not mention specifics about the deal, but stated that the reported $1.2 million that Edu was seeking to make from Philadelphia was “perhaps on the low end.”
What is not on the low end, according to Garber, is the transfer fee MLS is set to receive from Queretaro in the near future for 2013 MLS Golden Boot winner Camilo. The Brazilian has been involved in a bizarre saga with the Whitecaps and Queretaro in recent weeks, as he has trained with the Liga MX club and worn its jersey despite still having a contract with a Vancouver team that initially entered the offseason with no plans to sell him.
That, however, will not be how things play out.
“There’s been a transfer that’s going to happen,” said Garber. “Ultimately, (I’m) very disappointed. He had a contract. That contract in the world that we live in – whether it’s here, whether it’s around the world, whether it’s under FIFA rules – needs to be honored. But we all deal in a world where players are not happy where they are and you have to manage through that.
Ultimately, there was a good result: a high transfer fee, they’ll get allocation money and Vancouver will re-build their team with a new coach.”
Garber also touched on a pair of stadium situations. He said that New York City FC is getting closer to announcing a temporary home but danced around the question of if it would be at Yankee Stadium.
The New York Yankees along with Manchester City own NYCFC, which is set to begin play in 2015.
“I think shortly they’ll probably announce a place. They’re just finalizing all their details,” said Garber. “They’ve got some time. They’ve got to get a great spot. Ferran (Soriano, NYCFC CEO) – who we’re all very excited about, he’s a very bright, experienced guy – has said they’re looking for not just a place to play, they’re looking for a home. That home needs to start where they’re going to play temporarily and then they’ve got to find a permanent home for the stadium. They’ve got work to do there.”
D.C. United’s pursuit of a soccer-specific stadium was the other venue-related topic Garber discussed. Garber said that United may not have moved as quickly as they would have liked with their talks with local government to build a new home, but that progress is being made.
“Erick Thohir and Jason (Levien) are very focused,” said Garber of the club’s owners. “They were in (New York City) making their business plan presentation in the league office last week. A number of other key milestones that they are going to hope to hit in the next couple of months, but they’re encouraged and expect to be able to start moving dirt some time in the next 12 months.”
Garber added that he was “very confident” that D.C. United could pull it off in that timeframe.
What do you make of Garber’s comments about the Edu situation? Think MLS should have sold Camilo or kept him and made a statement? Agree that D.C. United could start building its SSS within the next 12 months?
Share your thoughts below.