Yesterday was a fun day of clubs pulling the strings on many player’s contracts. It was a roster cut day and it finished off with a waiver draft that came and went with little excitement.
But there was a name that stuck out in a big way to most people yesterday on the cut lists. Generation adidas forward Corey Hertzog saw his contract come to an end yesterday when the New York Red Bulls cut ties with the young striker. The cut sparked lots of talk around the country as to why the Red Bulls would give up a non-salary cap player with lots of potential.
It was simple in the end but still puzzling nonetheless, Hertzog graduated from the GA program. Even after just five professional games with the Red Bulls.
Once that nugget was revealed late Monday afternoon, it was clear why he was on the list and why every team in the Waiver draft passed on him.
Soccer By Ives broke down the complicatedness of this ordeal today.
The answer involves a change in Major League Soccer’s approach to GA contracts two years ago, sources told SBI on Tuesday. In 2011, MLS began offering shorter guaranteed portions of Generation adidas contracts to older GA signings (players signed to GA deals as college juniors), with some players being given GA deals that had just two guaranteed years. Now, such players enter their third seasons in the league on option years, options that aren’t likely to be picked up if a player hasn’t made significant progress toward the first team (not when those options are in the low six-figure range).
It makes sense.
Around that time the league was realizing that the Home Grown Players rule was going to be a bigger deal going forward rather than the GA program. And as we know around 2011 the league expanded the HGP rule for clubs to sign as many youngsters as they wanted. Let’s also not forget to mention between 2007 and 2010 there were a lot of bad GA deals floating around. Names like Josh Lambo, Alex Nimo, Peri Merosevic, and Nico Colaluca to name a few still probably leave a bad taste in the league’s mouth due to the money spent on those type of players.
I’ve been told on numerous occasions that the league is focusing more of their resources on HGP deals and not GA deals going forward. You’re seeing more of it now with HGPs in college sticking around for two or three seasons and then come out and get at HGP deal or those that stay the full four years and then get a HGP deal. Both of those routes seem better than pushing for more GA deals like in the past.
Let’s also not forget that we’re seeing less players that aren’t associated with a MLS team in college these days. There will always still be a few that are the cream of the college game that are worthy of a GA deal. But more and more we won’t see as many Danny Mwangas and Will Bruins, instead we will see guys like London Woodberry and Scott Caldwell. Four year guys with MLS academy ties.
The pressure will be on the teams to come up with a solid list of GA targets from now on and for the league to only sign the very best of those players. Each year all the teams submit a list of GA targets that they’d be willing to sign, this is why in years past we’ve had upwards of 10 or 11 GAs sign before the SuperDraft. Don’t be shocked if starting next year we’ll get around the six to seven range.
Teams also have to be better about developing the players they do draft in this stance as well. I know here in Dallas the club didn’t do great with guys like Josh Lambo and Peri Merosevic, which is why neither are still with the club. New York experienced it with Hertzog too. And other clubs have had the same issue with these young players. They look good because they don’t count towards the cap but if they aren’t brought along properly then they are just a waste of money overall.
The GA program isn’t going away anytime soon but I do think it’s value is dwindling here, year-by-year.