MLS- Chicago Fire

Pappa signs Heerenveen pre-contract, will play out 2012 season with the Fire

Marco Pappa1 (ISIPhotos.com)

The long-standing question of whether Marco Pappa would be leaving the Chicago Fire and heading to Europe this season has finally been answered.

Yes, Pappa is heading to Europe, but no, he won't be leaving the Fire this season.

Chicago announced on Monday that Pappa had signed a pre-contract with Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen, but that Pappa would remain with the Fire for the rest of the 2012 season, which will run through the end of his current contract.

Pappa has enjoyed an outstanding season for the Fire, but persistent rumors about a possible departure have dogged him for the better part of the summer. Now it appears he will stay with the Fire as the team pushes towards the MLS playoffs.

It should be note that Pappa signing a pre-contract doesn't preclude Heerenveen from continuing to negotiate with MLS and the Fire over a potential transfer, but at this point it seems unlikely Heerenveen would pay what it would take to get Pappa out of his MLS contract four months early.

Unfamiliar with what a pre-contract is? A pre-contract is a deal a player can sign with a new team once he is into the final six months of a contract. The pre-contract arranges for the player's next club destination while he finishes out his current contract.

Pappa's pending move doesn't come as much of a surprise, least of all to the FIre, who already prepared for Pappa's likely departure by trading for Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez.

Pappa isn't the first MLS product to join Heerenveen. The Dutch club also signed Michael Bradley as a teenager when he played for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars after the 2005 season, and also signed former Chicago Fire midfielder Will Johnson as a free agent. Johnson eventually returned to MLS, where he has become a standout with Real Salt Lake.

What do you think of this development? See Pappa shining in the Netherlands? Disappointed he's leavng MLS? See Alvaro Fernandez filling the void?

Share your thoughts below.

  • UnionFan

    I have put 700 hours into FM12, and pre-contracts are the greatest thing ever.
    Got so many good players like that.


  • Vic

    Can’t blame the guy. Foreigners in Holland make a minimum of 500k. A big raise from what he’s getting in MLS.


  • Jake

    Also he’s more likely to get a quick transfer elsewhere in Europe I would think. I’d be more pumped if it was a USMNT player instead of a rival. Or if MLS was getting some money out of the transfer. Still, good for MLS in helping to develop a good player.


  • jya

    The fire should have sold him in this transfer window now they don’t get the transfer fee teams like Wigan and even Heerenveen were willing to pay


  • Dimidri

    Why? Owners felt the chance he could help them win a championship this year outweighed whatever transfer fee they would have gotten for him. It’s his money.


  • Ryan

    We won’t get a fee…but we will keep his rights. Just like the Chris Rolfe situation, if he ever comes back to MLS we get first dibs. If for some reason we don’t sign him, we can sell his rights to the highest bidder. So no transfer fee but I will take his exclusive rights if he ever comes back.


  • otergod

    as Dimidri pointed out, Pappa’s value to this year’s team seemed to have been higher then the bid. The owner and FO want hardware.

    Also you have to acknowledge the possibility Pappa does not pan out. Fire opting to not sell and let him play out his contract ensures that they maintain his playing rights in MLS. Worked very well in the cases of Rolfe and Conde. Fire were able to re-sign Rolfe and trade Conde’s rights to NY. On the other side, we sold Baky after the Hamlett situation and when he returned to MLS he was slotted in the Allocation process.

    Fire are contending for the playoffs and even are in the hunt for top of the East. Selling arguably one of our top creative players (who has his faults) when you are wanting to achieve some level of success this season didnt seem worth it.

    In the end, Fire keep pappa in the push for success and maintain his MLS player rights until they re-sign him or opt to trade it. Will Pappa return? Who knows. It’ll all boil down to how successful he becomes in Holland.


  • jya

    Of course if Chicago doesn’t win the MLS championship and Pappa never comes back to the MLS the Fire get nothing out of having kept him


  • Creige

    I heard Pappa had signed a pre-contract with Wigan. I was hoping to see him in the EPL but my understanding is that your national team has to be ranked below 40.


  • Modibo

    As a Fire fan, I feel that keeping this essential player and foregoing the potential income shows a desire on the part of the ownership and front office to put a winning team on the field. That goodwill may be worth more than the transfer fee.

    There are three pieces of hardware up for grabs for the Fire: Supporter’s Shield, MLS Cup, and Eastern Division Champs. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Fire winning any of them, but being in the running is essential. Our defense has solidified with some great new additions (Anibaba, Berry, Friedrich), we have strength in the midfield particularly with Fernandez’s addition, and the front line is stronger with the addition of MacDo and Rolfe. There have been some flops (Puppo and Robayo most notably) and flubs (losing Grazzini), but the team on the field is now markedly better than any over the past two and a half seasons. If Pappa’s presence over the stretch run gives us a couple more goals and a win or two, I appreciate that as a fan.


  • strider

    Modibo beat me to it, but as another Fire fan I am glad the FO is making the effort to accomplish the most this season. After some poor results the past 2 years, it is vital that the team make the playoffs and Pappa will be a big help to accomplish that. How far they go in the playoffs is, of course, impossible to tell ahead of time as it so often comes down to key injuries or just sheer luck.


  • jya

    I guess if all you want are a couple of more goals this season then it makes sense. However that transfer money could be useful for continuing to build on a team that doesn’t feel like its at the top yet. It would also be better for Pappa to incorporate into his new team before their season starts as opposed to mid season


  • Drew

    I’d actually prefer retaining his rights than making a mediocre sum to transfer him. I believe he’ll do ok abroad, but I do think eventually he returns to MLS.


  • bradjmoore48

    I think you can’t be an international for a team that is ranked below 70 in the FIFA rankings, or averaged below that over a set period of time. Guatemala is 88 right now, so it’s entirely possible he wouldn’t get a work permit. This happened with Omar Cummings a year or so ago when he tried to go on loan to Aston Villa.


  • Ryan

    Also don’t forget that even if we did sell him, the transfer fee would be lower with only 6 months on his contract anyway. A team isn’t going to pay a lot when they can get him for free in the winter. If we were going to sell him, this past offseason would have been better to get a higher fee.

    I would rather have him for the stretch run as everyone else has said. Keeping him through the end of this season and also keeping his rights is more valuable IMO than selling him now for a lower transfer fee.


  • otergod

    everything is a gamble. If they sold Pappa and had a glaring creative hole in the roster and we failed to make playoffs how would the fans feel in this situation? The owner looking to cash in? Given the fact that we’ve established the first fully funded academy from U10 and up, Pappa playing out his contract, etc… it shows the owner wants to establish success. Hauptman is rolling the dice.


  • Justin

    Why would he want to return to Chicago. They’ve massively underpaid him these past four years, the fans are overly critical of him and the FO rejected several multi-million dollar offers for him.

    If I’m a young up and coming player with European aspirations, there is no way I’m signing with the Chicago Fire.


  • Matt

    Yeah, because it didn’t work out for Pappa and he didn’t use a spell in MLS to go straight to a European club…wait, what?


  • Justin

    Marco Pappa got himself to Europe despite MLS, not because of MLS. Besides that he’s been underpaid by about half a million dollars in his 4 years at Chicago.


  • Johnz

    Marco was often criticized and made fun of by his team mates for not having a car the first 2 years here in the US. Looking back at his wages, he made $35k the first year (+ a few K more from his team in Guatemala) and this year he was paid less then $150k which is a full $100k less than Pavel Pardo! The guy wasn’t making enough for a decent car and I can see him talking about that in a few years when they make a short intro video for him when he makes it on to an even higher class team. I could forgive Pappa for never returning to Chicago. Those who underpaid him while they could? Not so sure.


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