Written by Will Parchman

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The MLS allocation rule set is strange, fundamentally hard to understand and needlessly convoluted. This is not news. But every time something happens to throw that back into the collective face of the league’s fans, it gets a mite harder to stomach.

This time, it’s over a player. A very good player, in fact. His name is Jeremy Ebobisse, and according to the Washington Post, he’s already signed with MLS.

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Written by Will Parchman

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In some strange and almost unaccountable ways, fate brought Mauro Diaz and FC Dallas together. Or at least it would be easy to think so.

Diaz grew up in the vaunted River Plate system in Buenos Aires, surrounded by world class talent essentially being baked for someone else’s dinner table. River, like Boca Juniors down the road, trades off its highly prized youth players it sells to Europe for exorbitant sums that then fuel the academy and first team to produce more. For a time, Diaz was in that oven.

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Written by Will Parchman

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This has been something of a charmed year for the FC Dallas organization from root to stem. On the academy level, FCD shockingly swept the U16 and U18 Development Academy titles in July, a feat that may not be equaled in millennia (maybe).

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Written by Will Parchman

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MLS is full of cautionary tales so quiet and barely whispered that they dissipate before rising to an auditory decibel level. Who weeps for Omar Salgado? Or Danny Mwanga? In a league that struggles for abiding storylines, there is barely enough room for Michael Jordans, let alone Sam Bowies.

And yet even as the league’s narrative generator struggles to kick online, what has happened to Cubo Torres in MLS remains one of the saddest unfurling what-ifs in MLS history. And it is getting worse.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, we’re introduced to a young, handsome socialite caught between two worlds: the hedonism of Lord Henry and the quiet, humble asceticism of Basil Hallward. If the latter represents a cautious, structured pathway through life’s burning hallways, Lord Henry advises Gray to throw his caution to the hurricane and simply be, whatever that would be.

Gray chooses Lord Henry’s beguiling unstructured world view and is undone by its relentless, overwrought bidding. With no guiderails he is undone and crumbles under his own weight. It is a tragedy, in the end, that Gray was unprepared to face. And it ended him.

There are acres of Dorian Gray in Cubo Torres.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Poor Chicago Fire. Poor, systematically damned Chicago Fire.

Alejandro Bedoya signed for the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, bringing an end to his time in France and lending more emotional gravitas to the notion that Earnie Stewart Knows What He’s Doing. Bedoya is not flashy, but his work rate is impossible and if you’ll excuse the hyperbole, he is a Cesc Fabregas type in a league that can use them.

And yet somehow the Fire are involved. The Fire are somehow always involved.

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Written by Will Parchman

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On an individual club basis, MLS has a dubious history handing the reins to foreign ownership. We have precious few examples on which to base our account, but the Chivas USA disaster was unarguably the biggest trash fire in the league’s history.

Chivas USA did not fold, as experiments in Miami or Tampa did, in the midst of shuddering contractions while the league fought for its survival. When the shoddy port of the Mexican version shut its doors for good in 2013, MLS was financially strong and serially adding franchises, not subtracting them. Chivas USA was simply that poorly run, that disastrously marketed, that bad.

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Written by Will Parchman

fiyah

The Chicago Fire are in turbulent waters right now. They haven’t made the playoffs out of a largely watered down Eastern Conference since 2011, they haven’t won a road game since 2014 and they’ve been in the conference cellar for the better part of a year. After finishing 2015 as the worst team in MLS (and it wasn’t particularly close, points-wise), they’re angling for the honor again in 2016. They currently have the fewest points in the league.

On top of all that, club GM Nelson Rodriguez was forced to address the sparse crowd before last weekend’s home match against the New York Red Bulls over egregious use of That Certain Chant.

So things have been better.

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Written by Will Parchman

blake

Remember when the Philly Union drafted Andre Blake, maybe the most pro-ready keeper out of college in a decade, and stashed him on the bench for the first 23 league games of his pro career? And then, after a 90-minute teaser, sat him for another 35?

Yeah. Those were strange, unfulfilled days.

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Written by Will Parchman

jones

Back in the fall of 2013, as the YSC Academy flung open its doors to student-athletes for the first time, I sat down with then-Union GM Nick Sakiewicz, in addition to some other major names, to dive into the academy’s nuts and bolts.

Sakiewicz has since departed the club under acrimonious terms, but the school is still bulling along. Before YSC, the Union didn’t have a dedicated academy arm, instead relying on a series of regional satellite clubs they’d bring in for broader club-based training sessions to scout. It was essentially the fading ODP model shrunk down to academy form.

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Written by Will Parchman

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There’s no way to know how many transfer requests and inquiries MLS’s New York City headquarters deals with on a daily basis. As a single entity, MLS is under no obligation to release that information, and in fact it probably behooves them to keep it under lock and key. To a certain extent it allows them to control market cost on transfers, and if nothing else it keeps outside clubs from knowing whether or not MLS players are being consistently low-balled by foreign markets.

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