Former St. Benedict’s Prep star and Clifton resident Jose Angulo was hoping to have a chance to show off his skills in the MLS Combine and potentially become a high pick in the upcoming MLS Draft.
That chance won’t come.
According to sources close to Angulo, the rights to the high school all-american striker have been awarded to the New England Revolution, which filed a discovery claim on Angulo after he trained with the team last summer.
Yes, you read that right. New England just scored the rights to one of th best high school players in the country by inviting him to train for a week before simply filling out a form. Talk about ridiculous.
The decision is a baffling one for a league that has previously expressed a desire to protect the interests of players coming out of high school. Now, New England appears ready to benefit from the poor decision of a teenager who was simply looking for a professional environment to train in. Now, the Revs have managed to "discover" a high school All American who was the leading scorer on the No. 1 high school team in the nation in 2006.
The precedent being set here is a bad one. What will prevent recent high school graduates from skipping college and the draft, choosing instead to make the rounds looking for a contract? What will prevent teams from making promises to young players in order to circumvent the current MLS Draft system? And lastly, if the league’s decision was based on the fact that Angulo did not graduate from high school (He left high school early to explore his professional options) is MLS sending a message that high school stars can sign with any team they please if they simply drop out of school?
There is at least a small amount of irony in the fact that the team that has succeeded in benefiting from this bad decision happens to be one of only two MLS teams without an MLS-approved player development program. Why bother creating a youth academy when you can simply invite a good young player to a try out and secure his rights by simply filling out a form?
This isn’t an indictment of New England, which simply took advantage of the system that MLS has in place. If anything, the Revs deserve credit for filing a claim on Angulo when two other teams that saw him, the Red Bulls and Columbus, did not. The fault lies with a flawed system that MLS should fix.
Angulo should be in the MLS draft, where his impressive skills could make him a second-round pick at the least. Instead, he must now face the prospects of accepting whatever offer New England makes, which probably won’t be much considering the Revs have all the leverage.
If league officials had some sense, they would reconsider their decision and prevent a very bad precedent from being set. MLS might also want to think about fixing a discovery claim system that can be best described as inadequate.