A Ferrari, a coin flip and 5 other bizarre signing stories you'd only see in MLS
Major League Soccer over the years has created myriad mechanisms for bringing players into the league, and if some of them seemed absurd, well, welcome to MLS.
So many of these rules appeared to be made up on the spot to engineer a desired destination, a perception fueled by a general lack of transparency. And not all of the outcomes were particularly fair. But some were, and the league's growth over the last decade has been prodded by some of them. The “Beckham Rule” is the most prominent instance.
Here are seven of the oddest maneuvers undertaken to bring players into the league, or place them with a specific team.
WANT DEMPSEY? HE'S YOURS!
After over six years in England, including a couple of really fine campaigns with Fulham, Clint Dempsey was ready to return to Major League Soccer, provided the league was willing to meet his needs. Foremost among them was a ton of money and a roster spot with one of three teams: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders or Toronto FC.
MLS' arcane rules for signing and assigning talent include a bit about how Designated Players of a “certain threshold,” one that's never publicly been defined, are not subject to the allocation table. Claudio Reyna's 2007 move to the New York Red Bulls set the precedent. But the league was still a year away from inventing the “blind draw” -- keep reading for that gem -- so although LA and TFC had interest, officials paved Dempsey's move to Seattle.
The Sounders had been inquiring about him for a couple of years already, so when MLS approached Sounders owners Adrian Hanauer and Joe Roth to gauge interest, they jumped at the chance.
It required some heavy lifting on the contract, with a $9 million transfer fee going to Tottenham and a DP deal that would pay $24 million over three and a half seasons.
So what about the Galaxy and Toronto? LA was in the process of making Omar Gonzalez its third DP and TFC figured Dempsey, then the U.S. captain, would be better suited for an American team. So win-win-win all around.