Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Soccer By Ives: Holden offered improved MLS contract as transfer window nears

Ives Galarcep, among others, are reporting that MLS is offering Houston Dynamo's Stuart Holden not on a contract increase but a massive contract increase in a bid to keep the young American in the MLS for the coming years.

Holden, probably Houston's biggest break out player from last year (maybe Geoff Cameron would give him a run for the money), is out of contract and has been rumored to be moving to Europe in January, with Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen being considered the most likely destination. Although details are sketchy, the rumor is that Holden will be offered a contract in the $300,00 to $400,000 range. This is not Designated Player salary, but it is a tenfold increase over Holden's $35,000 salary in 2009. the drawback is taht Holden can command a salary of $3 million a year in Europe.

However, MLS, if it is to grow as a league, needs to hold on to some of its young players, particularly those that have developed in MLS. Holden, two years ago, would be best considered to be the understudy to Dwayne DeRosario. But when DeRosario headed back to Canada, Holden was tapped by Houston Coach Dominick Kinnear to lead the midfield for the Dynamo. Combined with Holden's break out with the U.S. National Team, it has to be considered that MLS finalized the development of the young man.

So why the offer now? As has been reported by many MLS observers, the league needs to do a much better job keeping young talent in the league. And, Holden, even by objective standards is a good looking young man, is well-spoken and well-received by fans. He could become the American face of the league, particularly if a certain Landon Donovan moves to Europe on a permanent basis. But aside from the MLS player/marketing side, there is a bit more of a deviousness to the idea by the MLS.

MLS might be looking at Holden as a potential payday. Keeping Holden in the league through the World Cup, could result in a very significant payday in terms of a transfer fee. If MLS could sign Holden to a three year deal, then MLS could see a seven figure transfer fee, particularly if Holden has a good World Cup. As it stands right now, MLS gets nothing since Holden can leave in January on a free transfer.

I think Holden is heading to Europe, probably Scotland for at least a couple of years. Being Scottish born, with family in Scotland, Holden can make the transition to Europe a bit easier, allowing him to focus on playing rather than trying to get settled in and playing. Plus, even on $10,000 a week, he would be looking at a payrate well above what he would be making in the states.

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