Case Studies in Cutting Off One's Nose
Before I get into the main point of this post, I recommend that you check out Kinney's draft thoughts below, as well as the comments from Nick. Good Stuff. Also, a quick note that I am having technical problems at the moment, so my posting may be decreased until we fix it... Okay.
There are several interesting forces at work, but first, two key paragraphs from Soccer America that mirror my thoughts:
One can sympathize with Twellman, to a point, especially in the light of New England's obstructionist history regarding players going overseas. The Revs turned down inquiries from foreign clubs regarding ex-Rev keeper Adin Brown, midfielder Shalrie Joseph and Dempsey - refused permission by the team to train with Everton prior to his move abroad - prior to the Preston offer for Twellman. But that history should also have sounded a warning.
The question arises: is there a "trigger" price in Twellman's contract. If so, what is it, and if not, why not? Twellman, and a lot of other people, are surprised Preston has upped its bid to $2.5 million. But did he and his agent Dan Segal insist on such a clause in his contract?
It is clear by now that there is no such trigger, and that Twellman and his agent miscalculated on that score during their contract negotiations. Still, I can imagine that pretty much anyone who's planning on dealing with MLS in the future is going to insist on such a contract clause, especially if they think they may end up in New England. And New England's earlier denials that they were stopping Twellman from leaving were ludicrous. Sure, MLS may have been the formal entity blocking the transfer, but they damn well had New England's request before they did so.
If I am Michael Parkhurst, or Adam Christman, or any of the other promising young Revolution players, I imagine I am disturbed by New England's past and current obstructionism in letting players go where they want. And that will have two impacts - It will make putting a buyout trigger in place more important for the player during renegotiations, or it will place a downward pressure in terms of the length of deals. If New England is standing between me and a comfortable retirement, then I want to minimize the amount of time I have to deal with them.
I would naturally draw a contrast between New England and United here. With the sale of Troy Perkins, and the impending sale of Bryan Arguez, as well as a decent history of placing players abroad (Convey, Olsen, and at least tangentially, Nielsen, although he was out of contract), a young player can see that United will not stand in the way of a lucrative move elsewhere to further his career. That's not to say that United won't fight to keep talent on occasion, but from a player's perspective, he need not worry that a move to MLS and United means forgoing a big payday in the future if things work out for him. And that, especially on the non-superstar level, can be huge in the next five years.
Yes, United will lose some talented mid-tier role players.
And these players are going to be more important over the next five years, and expansion (San Jose, Seattle, and who else?) dilutes the talent pool. Strong role players are going to be harder to find as the median talent level decreases. Which means it may be easier to attract them to Washington, D.C., since they know we'll let them move on if it comes to that. We have a record. The Revolution, with their white-knuckle grip on talent, may ultimately lose more opportunities than that talent they save now. It's a gamble either way, but I think we have the better option. The next five years will provide a good case study to examine it all.