The Nuclear Option
On Thursday of last week I wrote a piece in this space about what the ongoing Dwayne De Rosario situation might mean for Toronto FC going forward and what are the options open to the club to try and address it.
In that piece above I referenced four options available that are available to the TFC Front Office:
- Transfer DeRo to Celtic or to another club outside of MLS
- Give DeRo what he wants, namely a Designated Player deal and a significant raise
- Give him nothing over what he has now and force him to play out his contract
- Trade him to another club within MLS
There was in retrospect another option that the club can consider that I neglected to mention that I think is worthy of at least looking at, and that would be an outright release.
When I wrote that piece at the time I did not remember all of the details of DeRo’s deal with TFC that he signed in 2009. Looking back, that four year deal has two years on its term that are considered a “club option”. That means that TFC can either choose to extend the deal into a third and maybe even a fourth year as is or they can choose to not exercise the option and walk away.
From my understanding of league rules that would make De Rosario available to any other club able to come to terms with him on a salary and terms.
For want of a better term this is probably the nuclear option. Toronto would be walking away from a player of quality on the field without getting anything in return from whichever club picks him up either elsewhere in MLS or overseas. Yet after all the other options are weighed it very well may be the best thing that TFC can do.
Let me explain what I mean. With the signing of fellow triallist Freddy Ljundberg this past week the prospects of Dwayne getting a permanent deal (or even a loan deal) out of Celtic are probably much slimmer now than they might have been a week ago. The Celtic win in the Old Firm Derby on Sunday probably did DeRo no favours either. As well the way that DeRo’s camp allegedly mishandled the issues surrounding the paperwork might have embarrassed Celtic to the point where they decide to walk away anyways. Again we will know I guess in a day or two.
Giving him the DP deal might be exactly what the new brain trust at BMO Field would be loathe to do no matter what the circumstances might be either. Perhaps the new GM might decide that the first thing he does should not be caving in to a recalcitrant player who has caused such upheaval over money and setting such a poor precedent for the future where bad behaviour is rewarded rather than addressed.
And if the decision is to not give him what he wants and his option is picked up then they have the possibility of having a player on the roster who becomes even more of a distraction than he is even now. There could be more on field outbursts from Dwayne like the “cheque writing” thing for example, and once again the new group in charge might think that playing hardball is not worth it for the potential headaches they may receive in return.
Finally getting a trade done within MLS might be exceedingly difficult as well. Noted Canadian Soccer commentator Jason De Vos recently noted on the CBC that there is much talk in MLS circles that, in spite of the on field numbers, DeRo is potentially looked on by other MLS clubs as being overpaid as it is. And if he is traded then his contract is still in effect. And if a potential suitor decides to pick him up they are as well picking up a player who may be as unhappy and as much of a distraction there as he has been in Toronto if he does not get what he feels he is worth money wise. There is also the chance that the club might be further hamstrung salary cap wise depending on who might come to TFC in return. In trades often both teams in a deal do not always get exactly what they want and that is indeed possible in a scenario such as this.
So that leaves the option of releasing him. Doing this means that the club only gets salary cap space back in exchange for letting go a player responsible for more than half of TFC’s league goals in the past two seasons. On the flip side of that coin you get the cap space to go out and sign maybe two or even three MLS quality players for the same amount you give DeRo. Or worthy players like Nana Attakora and Adrian Cann can be given well deserved raises locking them up for the next number of years.
Rumours are swirling around both this player and this club. By later this week at the latest we should know much more about who at least may be making these decisions for Toronto FC. Ans of course we all await to hear from Dwayne himself, hopesully sooner rather than later.
Your comments are always welcome.
I think the Celtic win today helped Dero’s chance, they are still in the title picture and might want to upgrade their chances at winning. With a loss today they may have figure that the title is lost and just work towards the future with younger players. While I agree he wont be signed, I think his chances might have gone up after the win.
You don’t just release your best player in order to make a point.
Is there a replacement waiting in the wings who can score like DeRo?
Unless we’ve got a unknown Canadian superstar hiding out at Anselmi’s house TFC would be foolish to deny that option.
Brando doesn’t get it. MLS has a salary cap. You win back salary cap by releasing him and we can build a more balanced team. At his age he’s getting more replaceable by the day!
Salary cap management is definitely a must and yes, releasing DeRo should be an option considered. However, I am surprised at the ease with which people think “two or three” quality players are able to be picked up. That’s the holy grail of success in the MLS and there are no guarantees that the new management, consisting of a rookie GM and a coach who has not established any kind of know-how in MLS cap management would be able to achieve. In fact, I would submit that player agents will be salivating at dealing with a rookie front office in an attempt to fleece them. All the while, guaranteed goals were left at the table because TFC could not manage the relationship.
For the record I am not advocating this or any other option just yet, but it is I feel important that we all understand what may happen… There is a lot that will happen over the next couple of weeks that will let us all know if this relationship is between club and player salvageable.