After announcing yesterday that they had reached an agreement to bring U.S. striker Eddie Johnson to MLS, league officials stated today that the player had backed out of a verbal agreement to join the league and ended negotiations.
“We had reached agreement, subject to formal documents,” MLS Executive Vice President of Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s unfortunate the player did not want to conclude a formal agreement, but we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
It’s been a tough month for EJ. First, the trouble down in Florida and now this: backing out of a verbal commitment to the league that launched his career. It’s unfortunate, but not entirely surprising for a player who’s been dogged by character issues (click here and see Eric Wynalda’s take in the sidebar) since rising to national prominence in 2001.
• As expected, the Los Angeles Galaxy have shipped Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel out of town to make room for new signing Robbie Keane. Check that: they’ve moved Angel off their team, but he’s staying in town, to become the newest member of the Galaxy’s fellow Home Depot Center tenants, Chivas USA. Chivas sent a third-round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft to LA in exchange for the former Red Bulls star.
• And speaking of Designated Players, MLS this week announced a slight change to the DP rule (also known as the Beckham rule) that will allow teams to acquire young international stars with less risk involved. From the league website:
Beginning in 2012, teams can acquire Designated Players based overseas who are 20 years of age or younger for a budget charge of only $150,000, while Designated Players between the ages of 21 and 23 will count just $200,000 against a team’s salary budget. Current DPs represent a $335,000 hit to a club’s player budget of $2,675,000, regardless of their age.
“We’re hoping that with this rule change we’ll tear down this last barrier of entry and bring in quality players at every place in their career, and truly have the ability to get into the market of young players to be able to bring in and grow stars of the future for Major League Soccer,” said Durbin.
The age classifications are designed to catch young players cycling out of their respective Under-20 and Under-23 national teams. And it’s a rule change for which MLS clubs had been clamoring.
The change will allow MLS teams to take a chance on a promising young international who may need time to develop, and do so without gambling $335,000 of the team’s salary budget.