Following months of speculation and flirtations, 32-year-old U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones, who scored an important goal against Portugal at the World Cup, has made the move to MLS. And he ended up with the New England Revolution in one of the most absurd ways possible: a blind draw. This is not a joke. I mean, it is ... but it isn't.
The Revolution were not the only MLS club interested in signing Jones after his contract with Turkish side Besiktas expired in June. The Chicago Fire were also openly chasing his signature, and remained adamant about their pursuit. In the end, they lost out only by the luck of the draw.
Per the Revolution's press release, "Jones, as a designated player of a certain threshold, was not subject to allocation ranking for dispersal to an MLS team. The Revolution and 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."
And yes, that blind draw was just as bizarre as the term makes it sound. According to MLS employee Ben Jata, the names of the two clubs were put into envelopes and Jones' new home was decided by the one that MLS commissioner Don Garber picked. Seriously. This is actually how a professional league decided the fate of a veteran player with experience at the game's highest levels.
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
Although, to be fair, this might have also been how the German-born Jones decided to play for the U.S. four years ago.
Even more unbelievable is that the two teams actually agreed to this method.
The Chicago Fire even released a statement on the matter. “While we're deeply disappointed that he will not be a part of the Fire, we respect the system employed by MLS and wish Jermaine well with his new club," said Chicago head coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop. How they could respect a system that relies on envelopes and chance is not explained, though.
A certain degree of figuring it out as they go should be expected from any league as young and growing as fast as MLS, but at a certain point, transparency and coherency should trump the desire to placate owners and enforce league-wide parity at all costs. And that point was probably a few years ago. Even football envelope innovator and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers must be shocked that the league actually did this.
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