Wow! Lando Signs A 4-Year Deal to Stay in MLS

In somewhat shocking news, the diminutive scoring machine has reached agreement with the league and the Galaxy to keep his future bound to the MLS for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for staying big guy....

It’s a 4-year contract that ends in 2013 that allows Landon to take loan opportunities. Further terms of the deal were not released.

A loan deal as of yet has not been finalized, but it likely occur with Everton according to Bruce Arena. However, currently it is not completed.

Landon’s main comment: He wouldn’t have made this decision last year. Landon–paraphrasing–says that he would not have made this deal without the turnaround under Bruce and the ability to go out on loan.

How will this news reverberate around MLS, global soccer and the USMNT?

• Piggybacking off our column yesterday, what type of message does this send to Stu Holden? Does it impact his near term (or even long term decision at all)?

• What does this say to the average player in MLS? Fighting for wage concessions going forward, does the average player see the deal as a sign of things to come for the minimum pay rate or as a slap in the face to current negotiating?

• With Blanco gone, who steps up from Mexico to earn a big contract to represent Mexican interest in the league? England (Beckham) and even Sweden (Ljundberg) are making beaucoup dollars….

• Does this inhibit or further Landon Donovan’s development as a player–only being loaned out on 3-month stints?

• Might this mean that Beckham is hanging them up after World Cup 2010 and the Galaxy needed to insure at least a little star power at one of MLS’s marquee franchises?

• Is the timing of this not a bit odd with the World Cup 2010 and a grander stage–as we discussed in our Stu article–around the corner? What if someone like a Valencia or an Aston Villa want Donovan after South Africa? Is there an out in the contract? Is this just a smokescreen by the MLS to up his value in the transfer market of 2010-2011? (Maybe…..)

• Will this create any more positive buzz about MLS being a stronger league? Or does the fact that Donovan not plied his trade overseas impact the weight of the announcement abroad?

Good American soccer news and considerations for a December Wednesday…..

Our comments last week when the move was rumored.

Should Lando loan out to Everton–it seems like it is in the bag–mark your calendars: January 9th Everton travel to the Emirates to take on Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, likely to be Donovan’s first game as a Toffee.

30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/12/16 at 1:49 PM

    This is disappointing, but I am holding out hope that this is just a ploy to increase Landon’s transfer price if he does well in England. It is sad to see that one of the greatest American players of all time seems content to dominate the domestic league for the rest of his career rather than ply his trade with the big boys in Europe. Of course, this could just be MLS’s way of raising Mr. Donovan’s price to reflect his true value to the league.


  2. Posted by Mark T on 2009/12/16 at 1:59 PM

    I’m not shocked. Landon has never mentioned that he wanted to play anywhere else. He is really in a no-win situation going to Europe. He’d have to be a star to get any credit. Might as well be an American celebrity, live at the beach and pocket bags of money stateside.

    From a USMNT perspective its good that he is coming back to MLS to start the season. That way he won’t get beat up prior to the WC.

    Holden…he’s not going to be the “face of the league” anytime soon.

    Labor negotiations?…it will be interesting to see how players view Landon going outside of the CBA to cut his own deal with the League regardless of whether he is grandfathered in. Donovan had an opportunity here to elevate the fortunes of the all players, but chose instead to give up any leverage. You can’t begrudge him for that, but it certainly is a missed opportunity.

    MLS…again, since Landon isn’t viewed as an international star (just asks Steve McManaman) staying with MLS does nothing for the league abroad


  3. Posted by Ryan R. on 2009/12/16 at 3:34 PM

    Ives is speculating that the new deal will give him greater leverage to leave on transfer if he has a stellar World Cup. Only if that is the case will this make sense.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 4:58 PM

      Ryan — that was in both our article on Holden yesterday and our Lando article above today.


  4. I think this shows god intent from the MLS. In my opinion if the league is to grow here then the best U.S. players need to be involved in it.


    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/12/16 at 4:43 PM

      This shows the same kind of flawed thinking is perpetuating amongst MLS higher ups. They want to pay the superstars gobs of money (for America), but do nothing about the guys making minimum salary. They think stars are the key to the league, not the players If anything, this shows that they aren’t taking any steps in the right direction.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 5:25 PM

        I’m not sure about that Matthew N….if you can make some more money next year on this everyone benefits.

        That being said, the timing of the announcement could have been better given the current situation between the players and the management.


  5. Posted by El Macho on 2009/12/16 at 5:50 PM

    God, this is awful news if his plan isn’t to use it as leverage in bargaining to remain in the EPL or move to La Liga.


  6. Posted by dallen on 2009/12/16 at 8:01 PM

    Any future move hinges on this Everton loan and South Africa. I guarantee there is a buyout clause in this new paper, much like Beckham’s (or really any big-time contract). Any potential move could be facilitated by the buying club, Nike, USS or Landon himself contributing to the selling price. It’s a perfect setup for Landon. If he shows well in England it’s a starting point for salary negotiations after a transfer. He’d command a multi-million wage bill anyway no matter where he went so the new, higher salary isn’t prohibitive for any club with a realistic chance to meet the buyout clause. Well, it is if he wants to go to a relegation battler like Hull or Bari (as rumored after the Confed’s Cup) but he’s not going for that regardless. If he shows poorly, he comes back to MLS making more money. He’s now got a better fall back situation and more negotiation leverage in future transfer talks.


    • Agreed. ‘Cakes is setting himself up rather shrewdly. I haven’t heard anything on the contract details other than what’s been said above and over at Ives (man, he’s got some nutjob commentors). If Landon succeeds at Everton and in the World Cup, he and MLS both benefit because of this new contract. If he fails then he can come back, dust off, and get his swerve back by stomping cupcakes.

      Though we may not like the MLS higher-ups, they are intelligent business people and I see this new contract as a way of not leaving their chin open in the case that Mr. Bianca wants to move on. How often have we seen big European clubs ink some starlet to a new deal only to sell him on a couple of months later instead of letting him leave for free!?!? True, Landon wouldn’t have left for free, but you can bet your asses that things would’ve grown very difficult for MLS had suitors come calling and Donovan being shackled to the HDC gates, hell ESPN may have even gotten involved.


  7. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/12/16 at 8:39 PM

    What the Toffees really need to be looking for is a new bak line. They’re making our Timmy look bad.


  8. Posted by Andy on 2009/12/17 at 7:17 AM

    Not a fan of this. Lets hope this is in furtherance of a move abroad and that they are playing chess not checkers.


  9. Posted by michaelneis on 2009/12/17 at 9:44 AM

    I guess I don’t understand why this is such an awful thing…and why this upsets so many people. Has Landon’s play this year (specifically with the USMNT) been lacking in any way? By all accounts this has been a career year for him, and I think most people would agree his game has evolved to “next level” status. So what exactly is wrong with him staying in MLS with annual loan-outs? I understand the whole better-competition-leads-to-improvement argument, but Landon is by no means a “developing” talent. Other than a slightly selfish desire as fans to see him regularly in the likes of the EPL – I’m having a hard time figuring out the negativity.

    Side note: I get tired of complaints about the quality of MLS….all while any top US players get lambasted for choosing to stay. Stu will get the exact same reaction if he remains in Houston. (Really liked the piece earlier in the week) Meanwhile, the Gooch to Milan move was met with overwhelming excitement – and we all saw how awesome it is to have a 5th string player on a mega-club who never sees the pitch. I’m all for “developing guys” to take their careers abroad – but playing time trumps club prestige any day in my book


  10. Posted by Dylan on 2009/12/17 at 9:57 AM

    I’d love to see an article on the labor disputes for MLS. I’m not entirely sure as to what the issues are. I went to the website and read about contract limits and such but some clarity would help me understand what is going on with MLS. I just started to get into it this year and I love the league, so for me Landon staying is great, also I’d love to see Stu stay, as well as Beckham, and I heard rumors of Thierry Henry wanting to play for the Red Bulls, I say bring’em on. Anything that is good for MLS is good for the USMNT for sure.


    • Posted by Kevin on 2009/12/17 at 5:23 PM

      Am I the only one who thinks the only pluses of having Beckham in the league is money and marketing?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/17 at 5:47 PM


        You’re probably not the only one, but I’m in the camp that Beckham and even Ljundberg has played (almost frighteningly) a major role in the success of LA and Seattle this past year.
        Now, I only really watched Beckham through the end of the campaign and the playoffs, but he was a difference maker in many regards. I can’t tell you how many times I saw the backline of the opponent drift back when he had the ball…and that creates scoring and a more open game (two pluses for MLS)

        Even Ljundberg–whose last good year with Arsenal was what? 2004?, dominated possession up there in Seattle–I believe every game I watched he had the most pass attempts and completions for Seattle.

        The league needs these players–not just for marketing’s sake–but to bring years of experience in top leagues over to MLS. They just need to get these players in the fold a little bit earlier–not at the very tail end of their careers.

        No one wants to see Beckham if he is limping around and ineffective.


  11. I’ve been composing my 10 reasons why Lando should go to Valencia comment in my head now for about a month. I guess with this all sorted out that’s less of a possibility… Let’s hope you’re right about driving up his post-wc value.

    Beckhams coming back, and pretty much everyone around Barca has concluded 1) Henry will retire from Barca after this year and 2) He will go to MLS. So there’s your star power, no Donovan required.

    Marquez had been the suck for Barca this year too, so I could see him making a MLS move…


    • Posted by Kevin on 2009/12/17 at 5:19 PM

      I’m pretty sure in Marquez’s mind the Mexican league is 50 times better than MLS, so I don’t think he would ever move to MLS


      • True, but if his current form/fitness don’t improve he may not have much of a spot in the Mexican league. He certainly did not perform very well against Atlante.
        Still its a long-shot, but I could see him choosing MLS for quality of life reasons too.


  12. Posted by shane on 2009/12/17 at 11:07 AM

    I agree that if the MLS divided the money paid to these “superstars” and added it to the poor salary cap im sure we could gather first team and reserve quality on all MLS teams.. Breaking the bank on one guy, and offering shit to the 10 others is stupid and it shows in our league


    • Posted by Dylan on 2009/12/17 at 11:29 AM

      Is there a salary cap per club? Discounting the one salary of the clubs’ choosing? I heard mentioned that contracts are the the league and not the club, how does that work?


  13. Posted by Thomas on 2009/12/17 at 11:59 AM

    I just read a report that indicated that Landon was close to moving to Mexico side Club America. Anyone willing to speak to this? Cause for all the reasons it makes sense for Landon to play in Mexico [style, money] the sheer hatred Mexico has for Landon would seem to make that move improbable. Remember in 2002 Landon was voted the most hatted person in the world by Mexico, [ahead of Bin Laden] and at our resent fixture at the Azteca there was a Witch Doctor on hand to place a Hex on Landon prior to the match [and which we later found out Landon had Swine Flu]. Could Landon really haven’t played club ball in Mexico?


  14. Posted by Smitty on 2009/12/17 at 12:59 PM

    I haven’t read Soccernomics yet, but could someone explain to me how paying the lower level MLS players more raises the level of play in the league? I mean, I am all for these guys making more money, I am as ebarrassed as they are when they have to make mid-week appearances at Albertson’s or kid’s birthday parties just to make ends meet. But say the average MLS bottom feeder’s salary doubles from $40K to $80K. How does that raise the level of play? The pool of players remains the same, does it not? Or does the MLS start importing more skilled players from overseas now that it must spend more? Seriously, help me understand that one.

    One thing I would like to think that could be ruled out about Donovan’s contract is the short-term possibility that this contract may result in a sell off next year, for a profit for Galaxy/MLS. That would seem to be so short-sighted that the possibility seems moot. Donovan couldn’t possibly command a transfer fee of more than $10 MM could he? Isn’t worth more than that to MLS? MLS couldn’t be so strapped that they’d sell him off for such a figure?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/17 at 1:11 PM

      First Smitty, no need to read Soccernomics….trust me….

      Secondly, raising the minimum salary makes the league more attractive to players already here and to players overseas. That’s an easy one.

      The minimum right now is closer to $18K I believe…that is a reason in and of itself to seek employment pretty much anywhere else that has a decent league.

      It’s just not the minimum that is the issue mind you, it’s issues like a team owns your rights if it waives you–I don’t know much MLS (yet), but I am sure that that shouldn’t make sense.


      • Posted by pckilgore on 2009/12/17 at 4:47 PM

        Just curious, why the dislike of Soccernomics? You’ve mentioned you don’t like it twice now that I’ve noticed, but you haven’t really explained why.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/17 at 5:11 PM

          Sure Patrick….

          Apologies…I really don’t want to give it too much pub….

          Here’s my brief take on Soccernomics….which I may write a book review on.

          The challenge I have is when books reference other books as a means of creating their own content. A little bit of that is fine (like there is in on this site), but when it forms the crux or core of your content that’s not good.

          All too often Soccernomics invokes “Fever Pitch” and “Moneyball” to validate their arguments — only the author or those two books haven’t read Soccernomics nor did they give it their stamp of approval. Beyond these two books, the authors consistently invoke other’s research as well and make amazing assumption that they don’t substantiate.

          Secondly and a bigger problem for me is….well….in my day job an axiom that is often made is, “You can shape the data to make any point you want….” and that is by and large true.

          I’ll give you a soccer example….you can’t offer a goals-to-appearance statistic unless you offer two more pieces of information that color that number: average minutes played and whether or not that player takes penalties. So for example is, let’s say, Stu Holden had a 35% goals to appearance ratio for the USMNT and Landon had a 40% (I think Landon is 20% higher or so by the way), if you looked at this data in isolation, player agnostic, you might suggest that Landon is a more proficient scorer for the country….but that might/would be wrong (using the numbers above) because Landon plays more and takes pks.

          Whew….sorry about that.
          There are too many times during the book where I found myself challenging the author’s conclusions based upon their data analysis OR assessing the data really didn’t back-up their claim.

          That was frustrating for me.

          Positively for them, I learned a little more history of the game, but I would have appreciated maybe the book being 50 pages….instead of whatever it was….

          Sorry for my own book here…and maybe I’m too critical…but the book was made out to be a data-based analysis and read as such. If had perhaps a different title and did different chapters in history (a la “How Soccer Explains The World”…a much better xmas gift) I might have liked it more.

          (Sorry not proofreading that)


        • Thanks. While I was reading most of that struck me as well, but then I started wondering exactly how much statistical rigor can you publish in a book and still have people buy it.

          To be honest, even a love of football and very high level statistics background still found me skipping quite a bit of the tables and methodology. I would hope that the actual rigor was a bit higher than they let on – just the editors told them to cut it out as much as possible.

          However, the conclusions were fairly interesting. They at least, in my opinion, deserve discussion more than outright dismissal. And the game theory chapter on PK’s was absolutely awesome to read as a former keeper/current math nerd.


  15. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/17 at 5:38 PM

    Patrick — Agreed — and you’re right…not perhaps you’re right….you’re right…I dismissed too quickly.

    The PK chapter was excellent.

    ….and probably best to leave out most of the methodology.

    What I think irked me was sweeping assumptions based upon data charts that didn’t really validate what they were saying…while that only happened 20% of the time…it, for this reader, killed 100% of the book.

    You are right though…much good stuff in there….


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