In one of those "only in MLS" stories—and not one of the charming ones, either—World Cup standout Jermaine Jones is now a member of the New England Revolution, but only because the Revs' name came up in a random draw.
Jones, a midfielder who has spent the last seven seasons with Schalke in the Bundesliga (and the last half-season on loan to Turkey's Beşiktaş), is a great signing for MLS after an excellent showing in Brazil. But make no mistake: this is MLS's signing, not the Revs'.
As a designated player of a certain threshold, Jones was not subject to allocation ranking for dispersal to an MLS team. The Revolution and Chicago Fire expressed an interest in Jones, and had the available salary budget and a designated player slot to accommodate him. Following a blind draw between the two clubs, Jones was assigned to the Revolution.
It's a function of MLS's "single-entity" structure: the clubs aren't independently owned, but are operated by league stakeholders. You've basically got a single corporate overlord deciding where in-demand players go, without the players themselves getting to choose.
It's absolutely absurd that this is how America's top-flight league handles the acquiring of a top talent:
Jermain Jones saga finalized with a 'blind draw". Names of teams (CHI/NE) were put in envelopes and MLS Commissioner Don Garber picked one.
— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) August 24, 2014
Jermaine Jones may have had no interest in playing for the Revs, may actively hate the idea of playing for the Revs, may have never actually spoken with Revs management before having to talk about how happy he is to play for New England.
"I'm very excited to come to MLS and join the Revolution," Jones said. "New England is an exciting team on the rise, and I believe I can come in and help the team make a push toward MLS Cup. Playing with the U.S. National Team has given me a great connection with the American fans and I'm looking forward to playing in front of them every weekend. I'm ready to get started with the Revs."
The blind draw is a new one to me, but it's certainly not the first instance of MLS making things up as it goes along. To damn with faint praise, at least this is better than the fiasco that was MLS bending and breaking its own rules to put Clint Dempsey in Seattle.
It's mickey-mouse, amateurish stuff, but even more significantly, it's shockingly anti-labor. If MLS wants to be the league of choice for the world's best players, it'd better start allowing those players to choose their situations.