The second phase of the re-entry draft is over after a whirlwind day in MLS. Leading up to the drafts, fans, players, journalists and teams were unsure what to expect. After a quiet first phase, we got an orgy of activity that created buzz around the league and put MLS on the media landscape in the middle of December. Twitter was burning up during the draft as each selection and trade was announced. ESPN.com covered the draft as did much of the soccer media.
Perhaps more importantly, MLS found a way to keep its league relevant in the quietest month of the year. MLS Cup and the expansion draft are done in November and the international transfer window opens in January. By February, teams are reporting to camp and the Champions League is looming. Now, MLS has created two drafts and a significant amount of wheeling and dealing in December that kep fans glued to message boards and the web.
Whether the draft has the effect desired by both sides to the Collective Bargaining Agreement will take some time to determine. Jeff Carlisle pulled some quotes from MLSPA head Bob Foose that suggested that he was pleased. “I think it is working and is doing exactly what it was supposed to do, which is to give veteran players more leverage and more control over the negotiations in the offseason,” he said. “And also, keeping guys under contract, or at least reduce the guys who are out of contract.” The whole article is worth a read.
Regardless of Foose’s statements, we will have to see the types of deals negotiated by the players and teams and how many players make good use of their new “free agent rights”. Regardless, the MLS paradigm has changed, and seemingly for the better. The league gets publicity, players get freedom, teams get a chance at new players and fans have a few more weeks to enjoy.