On using allocations
February 28, 2009

Allocations. The bread and butter of MLS's transfer system. Only this bread and butter are hidden in a paper bag, stapled shut. How much bread and butter is in the bag? Who knows...

We do know that allocations are, in the simplest terms, a way to increase the team's salary cap. We know that teams receive allocations when they sell a player overseas or when they miss the playoffs. We know that allocations vary in sizes, but the exact sizes of them are never known. We know that allocations are supposed to expire a year after they are issued, although we don't know if that rule has ever been enforced.

So how does a team use an allocation? There are a few ways. One, they can use it on transfer fees for a player from abroad. Two, they can use it to augment a player's salary to expand the cap. (For example, if Player X's salary is 100K, and a 25K allocation is applied to it, only 75K of the player's salary counts against the cap.) Or, allocations can be traded to other teams, which can use them in the two ways described above. So in MLS, with its miserly player budget, teams who have allocation money are big big players in the transfer market, be it within the league or abroad.

And Metro has allocation money. A lot of allocation money. That we know.

We just don't know how much. We know they received 500K -- the maximum allowed amount -- from the sale of Jozy Altidore. We know they received some from the sell-on clause on Michael Bradley's deal. But the unknowns clearly outweigh here.

We don't know how much, if any, of it was used on Jorge Rojas, Juan Pietravallo, or -- god forbid -- Gabriel Cichero. We don't know how much, if any, was used to augment player raises (such as Dane Richards' 400% hike). We know some went to acquire Khano Smith -- but we don't know how much.

So it sure seems that Metro with allocation money is a lot like a mule with a spinning wheel... nobody knows how they got it and danged if they knows how to use it. For, as opposed to being players in the transfer market, Metro is sitting on that money, whatever that amount is.

Now, it's quite possible that Juan Carlos Osorio has lined up some players to sign, be it from trialists currently in Argentina, or the various players rumored to be targeted. And it is quite possible that some -- or all -- of that allocation money will go towards those players. But... well, with all respect to Alfredo Pacheco, Aklie Edwards, and even Albert Celades, it doesn't seem that these are the caliber of players to warrant a large allocation spend. Or, perhaps, Osorio is planning on using the money during the summer transfer window, but one would hope that he learned from last year's mistake of brining players in during the middle of the season... One would think.

So where will the allocations go? Your guess is as good as ours...

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