Update: According to this MLSSoccer.com report, the Feilhaber move came about in 72 hours. Wow. And, combine that with today’s learnings that Feilhaber’s salary this year is a single digit percentage premium ($375,000 to $374,000) to his Aarhus salary and just a small raise (and only one added year) to $450,000 next year tells me the following:
Aarhus–likely–wasn’t re-upping at the same or comparable rate next year and no suitor was coming forward in the summer with a better deal.
Again, sure Feilhaber maybe wanted to play Stateside–I’m not sure I believe that since the exposure to European clubs diminishes–it still looks like MLS was negotiating against itself.
Once again, well done Mr. Yorks.
Give it up for Lyle Yorks as Benny Feilhaber should be doing right now.
Here’s what we know of the recent Americans abroad.
That Benny Feilhaber was out of contract at the end of this year.
That his team AGF Aarhus tried–multiple GM reports–to move him during the initial part of this season.
Being a World Cup veteran does not guarantee you a spot in Europe. Jay DeMerit elected to play out his final year at Watford in hopes that he could parlay his World Cup appearance into another enviable contract somewhere in Europe. Didn’t happen.
Edson Buddle took his World Cup resume and is now a part-time starter in Germany….for a Bundesliga II outfit trying desperately to avoid relegation to the third division.
World Cup occasional starter Jonathan Bornstein, now an occasional starter with Tigres in the Primera, likewise for World Cup roster cut Sacha Kljestan in Belgium with Anderlecht though his playing time is spotty.
Jozy Altidore? Seeking playing time after a somewhat impressive World Cup has found himself with a lateral move at best to the Turkish Superliga.
So that leads us to Benny Feilhaber.
US nationals are infinitely more marketable on the home shore and with Feilhaber out of contract at the end of the season, his agent, Yorks, did a smart thing by proactively moving Benny to MLS. Maybe it was Benny’s decision, who knows. One thing I do know is the I’m sure Yorks witnessed the DeMerit situation and thought, “I’m not losing the leverage for my player in the summer.”
Smart move. Could an MLS club had Benny for less in a few months? That would seem possible.
Moving about Europe is still a chore for an American player and one who is represented by an American agent. Don’t get me wrong, as far as I know, Yorks is one of the best in the business, but remember “Americans Abroad” in Europe–in abundance–is somewhat new as are the agent ties to various teams. Yorks’ agency has been around for ten years. By comparison, controversial player agent Paul Stretford (agent to Wayne Rooney) has been brokering players since 1987.
They, Americans abroad, represent an opportunity for teams (American fan dollars and media exposure), but there are also the limitations of homegrown rules and passports and there is the back-scratching for Euro agents that control even bigger players; agents that are more entrenched.
Feilhaber will do well in MLS. He’s a US national, a talented offender and a good looking guy to have on a campaign poster to boot. And it’s in MLS where that first quality–being a US national–holds the most value.