The Major League Soccer secondary transfer window opens in less than a month (27 June to 27 July). The rumors, speculation and other ideation for potential Designated Players is ramping up. The Montreal Impact seem quite likely to sign Alessandro Del Piero and have already signed Marco Di Vaio. There's speculation that Ronaldhino will re-explore a move to MLS, or that an MLS team should explore bringing him here. The idea of Didier Drogba in Rave Green causes Target Forward fetishists to drool. Defender Alessandro Nesta is seen as a potential solution to several teams' defensive woes.
Very few of these will happen. Almost always the connections are created in order to drive up salaries. Still, there are some unique ways that MLS sells itself to potential DPs. The biggest is probably connecting the player to the media and advertising markets of LA and New York, and of course the greater US/Canada economic environment. The original DP, David Beckham, was brought here by granting him greater control of the use of his image in advertising.
In pursuing Del Piero, Montreal is reported to have sent him to Miami. Because of course Miami and Montreal are the same? Former MLS player, now agent, Dario Sala is big on talking up the on-time payments, quality of life and general level of safety in the USA, especially when compared to Latin America. That appeal has particular leverage to Ronaldhino who is owed 20M$, the reason he's free.
Using more than just pure money to sell a team to a free agent is not just an MLS thing (Eto'o got paid, but also has so many ancillary benefits he is basically a town of his own). It isn't even just a soccer thing, but when competing across a globe of possibilities from Shanghai to Doha to Moscow to London to where-ever, General Managers and owners have to get creative. It's about more than just selling a team with a shot at three trophies, a great fanbase and decent or better talent around it.
Signing a "name" DP is about more than soccer. It is about selling your community.
How do you sell Seattle? I'm guessing by not selling Miami. Maybe the list includes;
- Microsoft and XBox
- Joe Roth and Hollywood
- Drew Carey and The Price Is Right
- Strong Charity Partnerships
What else? How would you pitch this team and community to a Drogba or Ronadhino that makes it unique not just in soccer, but as a place to become home?