Written by Will Parchman

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Of all the obfuscation and misdirection surrounding MLS’s allocation rules, perhaps the least confusing is the actual breakdown of transfer fee money.

As a baseline, MLS owns every player contract. The league operates in theory like every other league in the world, where the individual clubs hold the entirety of the contract in their own hands. Clubs negotiate with players, clubs sign players. In MLS, clubs do the legwork (or most of it anyway) and the league office has final say, a relic of an era when the league’s clubs could not be trusted financially to uphold the burden. Whether or not those days are entirely kaput (they probably are), the structure persists. And I imagine it’s an incredibly difficult thing to dismantle.

Of course, the league rarely throws up roadblocks to player sales and signings. It can, technically, block any signing and refuse any incoming transfer offer. But it would be prohibitively problematic to do so, and the rancor caused among the front office it denied would be too toxic to consider it anything approaching a normal practice.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Wake Forest burned its way through the ACC and the NCAA tournament in 2016. The program provided a pleasing aesthetic bang for the buck when it came to style and panache. The Demon Deacons ultimately fell an iota short of the title. Stanford held its nerve in penalties in the final, and Wake Forest was plunged into an offseason chugging along on the acidic fuel of what could’ve been.

It was an impressive accomplishment, doubly so because the Demon Deacons did it without the cornerstone of their 2016 recruiting class. That was supposed to be Isaiah Young, a firmly entrenched U.S. youth international who’s easily among the top five most enticing forward prospects in the pool in his age group.

Young, the 2015-16 boys TDS Player of the Year, committed to Wake but never showed up for preseason camp. As of the first day of training in August, the program reportedly expected him to show. When he didn’t, that began a months-long odyssey that more or less dropped Young out of the public purview. That, of course, is no longer the case. Because Young just announced his signing with German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Akron’s Jonathan Lewis was the final addition to the 2017 Generation adidas class just weeks before the draft. In keeping with recent years, the GA haul was trimmed of fat and left mostly with working muscle. There were only six players in the ’17 class, the second fewest in history behind only the 2015 group.

Among them, there was one conspicuous absence. The best striker in college soccer in 2016 – yes, including Abu Danladi – was not in this GA class. Gordon Wild stayed home.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Andy Najar is more important than you imagine. He is in many ways the MLS Alpha, the genetic ground zero of the league’s next phase of evolution. His headshot should be in a place of prominence in MLS HQ, because in some ways the coming age he foretells is more significant than the new winds that arrived behind David Beckham.

Now, approaching four years since he left the league, Najar is the first MLS Homegrown to have been sold on for profit. He’s no longer the only one, but the list is exclusive. Last summer, FC Dallas engineered a transfer that sent midfielder Alex Zendejas to Chivas for $500K, which followed on the heels of the club’s sale of keeper Richard Sanchez to Tigres two years earlier. Matt Miazga of course moved from the Red Bulls to Chelsea in 2016. And though he’s not listed on MLS’s official list, Carlos Salcedo signed a Homegrown deal with RSL in 2013 before being sold, again to Chivas, for an undisclosed amount in 2014.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Taken in a yawning vacuum, news of Brian Iloski’s European gallivant this winter perhaps would not be cause for such ground-quaking alarm in SoCal. UCLA, where Iloski’s played as an oftentimes dazzling midfielder, is more or less constantly stocked with youth national teamers. Surely it could survive the year if Iloski fled. Right?

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Written by Will Parchman

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It’s been nearly four years to the day since the Colorado Rapids signed a Homegrown player of their own. That streak is officially (blessedly) toast.

On Friday, the Rapids announced the signing of Denver center back Kortne Ford and Creighton central midfielder Ricardo Perez. Both were upperclassmen in 2016, Ford a junior on a College Cup team and Perez a senior for Creighton, which lost to Providence in the third round of the NCAA tourney. Ford seems to be the real gem here after making national waves in the NCAA semifinals, but both have a shot at the 18.

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What’s next for Bob Bradley?

Written by Will Parchman

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Fairness is a relative idea, like freedom or evil. There is no one way to define it, and perhaps fewer notions about what constitutes the highest form of the ideal. Socrates might look at the American system of governance and call it inherently draconian and unfair, even if both Greek and modern models are differing (mostly positive) degrees of the same term.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Darlington Nagbe will not be going to Celtic. At least not yet, and perhaps not ever.

Whoever did the rejecting is perhaps up to your specific Atlantic bias. Celtic, which had invited the enigmatic Timbers attacker to watch a Champions League match against Barcelona earlier this year, claims it’s the one doing the walking away. The Timbers side of the equation alleges quite differently.

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Written by Will Parchman

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As of today, two of the top nine picks from the 2014 MLS draft are retired.

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Written by Will Parchman

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We’re all agreed (I will fight you if we’re not all agreed) Stefan Frei’s fingertip save on Jozy Altidore was the biggest save in MLS Cup history. The Sounders were cooked in the attacking third, and Altidore’s late looping header would’ve all but decided the match. And it certainly looked like it might beat Frei. It probably would’ve beaten most anyone else.

And then Frei stepped in with this meme-generator. The faces. Look at the faces.

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