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MLS gives New England rights to Angulo

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.


  1. Hey Voros, nice to see some BigSoccer royalty in the house.

    How could the decision not affect Angulo? Instead of having the chance to take part in the MLS Combine and create some interest in himself he is forced to try out for New England and either accept or reject whatever offer the Revs make.

    Yes, Angulo can just as well go to some USL team, which is an option, but again, he has been prevented from having the same chance to improve his stock as any other player preparing to enter the league in 2008.

    And I think I’ve stated a few times that the bigger issue is what the decision means long-term for the league and future prospects than what it means for Angulo. You can read some other comments I’ve made for my take on that.

    As for the youth system fixing a lot of this anyway, how on earth is the existence of 13-15 youth systems in a country the size of the United States going to address the issues that this precedent creates? It won’t. MLS needs to establish better rules and guidelines in this area, plain and simple.

  2. You’re right that this is a pretty inconsistent decision by the league, but you;re wrong when you think this affects Angulo’s interests at all. With SEM, Angulo only has one interested party anyway as soon as he decided to join MLS. This won’t cost him a dime and in truth might actually save him money if he were to somehow have a poor combine showing.

    The youth system ought to fix a lot of this anyway.

  3. the10shirt: You meant no insult to Ives?

    “I have two words for you Ives, B-o-o, H-o-o.”

    Also, your examples make no sense. Reyna? Angel? Djorkaeff? What problem could you possibly have with their acquisitions? Sounds to me like you’re the one who’s crying. Your whining about the past is irrelevant anyway. The bottom line is that the discovery claim system needs to be changed.

  4. 10 Shirt…you lost me on your arguement when you included JPA and CR were in some way added around the league rules? These two players were both added through use of the dp system. The Revs have a dp slot, they just chose not to use it. I don’t think RBNY fans are mad with the Revs nor is Ives, they used this rule to their advantage. The article merely points out a loop hole that should probably be looked at a little closer and hopefully closed.

  5. Ives, isn’t there something really important that we’re overlooking here that it seems like you just forgot. I seem to remember you talking about Angulo trying to get US-citizenship in one of your past articles about him.

    I have no idea what country he’s supposed to be from, but if he’s not a US-citizen, well then doesn’t that make him different than all the other players in the MLS-draft? In a very crude way isn’t Angulo the equivalent of a player Nicol found in Argentina?

  6. I meant no insult to Ives. My beef is with NY fans who are critical of this move by the league. This is yet another shady deal by a league that changes its policies at the drop of a hat. My point was that usually those transactions are designed to benefit NY and LA at the expense of the smaller market teams. It’s no baffling, it’s obvious why the league does it. But it also imbeds those teams with unfair competitive advantages and made a mockery of the salary cap in the pre-DP era.

  7. the10shirt: If you found those things baffling or ridiculous, that says more about you than it does about MLS.

    And shame on you for pimping your blog here as you insult Ives.

  8. You know, I too found it “baffling” and “ridiculous” when Roberto Donadoni, Lothar Matthaus, Juan Pablo Angel, Adolfo Valencia, Youri Djorkaeff and Claudio Reyna ended up wearing the New York colors. And those guys (even though they did not pan out) were much more of a sure thing than some high school kid. How did Freddy work out for DC United or RSL, and he was the biggest phenom there ever was in the U.S. I have two words for you Ives, B-o-o, H-o-o. On the other hand, congrats on scooping the Boston media once again!


  9. This definitely exposes a major loophole in the system. A previous poster is right, what is to stop teams from having expensive academy systems and just let the NCCAA or HS/Club teams do all the grunt work, invite the kid(s)into camp and file a discovery claim? While they are changing this rule, they should look into changing the absurb academy rule regarding promotion of players and the ability to poach from other teams. Ridiculous.

  10. BigSoccerNut – you might want to ask the NCAA what they think about an athlete who hires an agent. I do believe by their definition you have then forfeited your college sports career. That is true for potential basketball players who want to enter the NBA as underclassman. As long as they don’t hire an agent they can go back to college if they don’t get picked high enough.

    If that is the situation, like Matt said above, then that does change my perception of the situation a bit. Yes, the kid is young and perhaps has received some bad advice from others, but help me understand how he lost significant leverage; are you telling me college players drafted even in the first round have a lot of leverage?? I don’t think so. Their rights are assigned to a team – period end of story. If this is about the kid being a ‘free agent’ and wanting to avoid the draft and getting hoodwinked, then that is different, but I haven’t heard that here. If Angulo wants leverage then he better get a team in a different league interested in him pronto (or find any other alternative). Those without options have no leverage, no matter the situation.

  11. Won’t read the whole thread but I am going to be an MLS cynic here.

    IMO MLS is doing this because they know the kid loses all bargaining power now. He wamts citizenship he has to stay here, pay for the Revs, for whatever they will pay for as long as they want.

    If he doesn’t want to sign then he is screwed.

    I have defended, or just accepted, all the unusual MLS moves of the last 12 years because sometimes that is needed and happens in a growing entity. Do what you need to in order to grow and then set strict rules when you are safe.

    This decision is just horrific/dangerous/insane/confounding in so, so, so many ways. My defense for the league is waning and turning as we move forward.

    Just so dumb it’s not even funny.

    I think contract talks between the players and MLS is gonna be just nuts. I wouldn’t rule out a strike. Might be real bad for our game here. Sad stuff.

  12. Ives, do you have any information on the following topics?

    Are there any special rules applied to discovery player salaries or is it just an open negotiation with the club?

    How long does the club retain their MLS rights if the two parties fail to come to a deal?

  13. “Boohoo,” another noob who doesn’t know what journalistic integrity is and is too much of a wuss to sign in with his real name/email.

    Honestly I think this site should require email confirmation. I may be a moron, but at least I’m a moron who sounds off while leaving his contact info.

    I’m sick of reading this stupid posts by people who have no concept of the game but can post whatever they want anonymously. And sometimes they attack people with completely valid points.

    Bunch of cowards.

  14. What I’m wondering is what does thois mean for Angulo’s salary?
    Will he get paid less because he’s a “discovery” player? If he was eligible for the draft, he would have signed a Generation Adidas contract and get paid more than the average draft pick.
    Also, Angulo isn’t that young. He’s 19. Older than Jozy even.

  15. “Sounds like a hint of bitterness from NJ. Good luck to Angulo.”

    This is nuts. RBNY had no rights to Angulo. The objectionable issue is that MLS has thrown its rules and precedents out the window to honor this discovery claim, which is not in the least bit fair to the player.

    The real test of legitimacy is whether any player who merely trains with a team for a week, and still isn’t out of high school, can be subject to a discovery claim and pulled from the draft/lottery pool, or if this is an absurd one-off. I suspect it’s the latter.

  16. To draft bashers,

    Whether or not you like the draft is not the issue here.

    The issue is that Angulo, who wants to be in the draft, is not being allowed because he trained with New England for a week.

    He never signed an academy contract or anything with NE, he just trained with them. It’s fairly common all around the soccer world.

    We all want better academy and youth systems in MLS, but the draft is what Angulo wanted to be a part of, and he is not being allowed.

    And saying NE has a ‘development’ philosophy is BS. Dempsey, Larentowitz (sp), and Dorman were all developed by the time they joined the Revs. They have improved since then, but they developed other in other places. Very few MLS clubs have developed any players (Altidore, Adu, Szetela are some of the few that have been). Much of that burden is placed on Youth National teams and the college system. I’m not saying thats how things should be done but that is the way it is.

  17. Pat

    Well, they gave Dempsey an opportunity to play. Of course you know that Dempsey was on the U20 World Youth Cup team the year before he played in MLS. Not exactly a lump of clay.

    What about Peter Nowak he developed Bobby Boswell, Josh Gros, Brian Carroll, and Troy Perkins into all stars and national team players. It’s how it works in MLS. Every team has a handful of young players that blossom into good players. It is not unique to New England.

    I call development taking a player in his teens; Not yet physically mature; Is several years from first team action and grooming him for the big stage. Can you name any teenager that has passed thru New England that has gone on to the national team or moving to a bigger club? I can’t.

    Most players that Nicol brings in have played at least three years of college and are ready to contribute. Not a bad strategy, but not development either.

    If New England had a “development” philosophy they wouldn’t be one of only two teams that don’t have an academy. If they had a special touch they would be mining the youth market of NE for next Jeff Laurentowitz.

  18. “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? ”

    totally disagree in a sense. 🙂 I think that is exactly how the system should work. What shouldn’t happen, is one of the teams that he tried out for shouldn’t be able to ‘claim’ him as their own.
    Other than that, kids should be able to shop for contracts like sports in this country USED to be like. It won’t damage the cap and they can still give allocations to garbage teams but let’s dump the draft. I’m sure many will worry that it will cause NY, LA, Chicago to have an advantage but so be it. Let’s have clubs fight to acquire their players by putting forth competent FO’s and coaches not being handed players in a draft.

  19. Maybe this is the leagues way of trying to let all teams scout and sign their own players. The way players enter the league is all screwed up, and im sure it does not help when a kid decides for MLS or Europe

  20. Here is how European (and rest of the world) soccer differ from the MLS.

    1) Since the Bosman decision, for the rest of the world, any player (including VERY young players 9-10 years old, like Messi) are free agents until they sign a contract with a club. If they want a professional career in soccer, this, eventually is their only choice. The length of the contract, how much is negotiable. Barcelona got burned with Fabregas, who they signed when he was very young, but when his contract expired when he was about 17, was free to sign with Arsenal.

    2) A kid in the U.S. has same this option to go for (for overseas teams).
    However, he also has the option to stay in the U.S. and try to finish his education and play highschool and college soccer which are competitive outlets that are not in the rest of the world. This can be a tough decision, since I think the NCAA and most state highschool associations have pretty strict rules on hiring agents and dealing with pro teams, which forever would disqualify the player from ever going the college route once they take one step down the agent/pro route. I honestly don’t know why a good player would sign a “developmental” contract with the MLS for 20 grand a year and pass up a free scholarship to a university worth 30k or more a year, and develop just as well in a good college program as the MLS “developmental” system, but that’s me.

    Unlike Europe, the MLS is a single entity, like a single team who negotiates and then disperses its players among its “sub-teams” by draft or whatever. This is purely supposed to be a cost saving measure for league teams so they don’t compete against each other, only against other nation’s teams. Its monopolistic/ anti-labor :’).

    I agree with the poster who said that this ruling actually undercuts the single entity MLS and makes it more like the European system (free agency), because a player can shop around to all the MLS teams to see who will give him the best deal if he goes and trains at their grounds.

  21. i wouldn’t say new england has all the leverage here.. regardless of whether he is a 2nd round pick or a player whose rights were assigned, in the end it is up to the player whether or not to sign the k … i’d also like to know how long New England retains the rights on this player for mls purposes (months, season.. etc?) if the two sides fail to reach an agreement

  22. TK,
    I’m not sure how you can classify them as average players. Dorman just left for scottish premiere (not EPL but not bad in itself) and from what I’ve seen from Jeff, hes a rather solid player defensive player with some nastyness and not bad on the ball either. What did you have in mind regarding developed? More along the lines of Szetela? WOuld you say that the revolution developed Clint Dempsey?

  23. I agree with the post on just “discovering” academy players. Didn’t the Red Bulls try to do this with Johnny Exantus in 2006 and get rejected by the league, even though Exantus had been training with the senior team?

    I don’t really see how Angulo’s case and Exantus’ case are that different. If Exantus couldn’t be discovered without going through the draft, I would think Angulo should also go through the draft. That said, what’s the difference then with a Jorge Flores situation where a player wins Sueno MLS out of highschool and then eventually gets picked up as a discovery?

    St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark frequently produces top prospects like Angulo and Gabe Ferrari. If this is the new MO in MLS, the Red Bulls should invite the whole St. Benedict’s Prep team to train and file discoveries on all of them. Sounds a bit ludicrous to just file discoveries on all high school players in your area, but on the other hand, to the team it’s a free option on each player.

  24. pat

    I guess I don’t know what you mean by develop. First, ginger Jeff and Dorman are average players and Twellman had spent some time in the Bundesliga before he came back hat in hand.

    Besides, all those guys you mentioned were in their twenties when they arrived at the Revs. Not exactly in their “wonder years”.

  25. I agree that this is a fishy decision, even if I do like that it benefits the Revs. Contrary to Matt, I’m not ready to see the draft system scrapped. If this precedent is allowed to stand than all HS or College kids would just need to “go Pro” and they would avoid the draft altogether.

    That said have all previous “kids” gone through the draft? I know that Gaven, Adu, Besagno did (even if the Adu pick was rigged in advance and not a true draft pick); but didn’t others go to a lottery (Szetela? Sesay?) and I know that the Revs signed a fringe U-20 (Miguel Gonzalez, since waived) a year ago but don’t remember any lottery or draft for him. It seems they have possibly had some other loopholes in the “all non-pros must be drafted” rule.

  26. “This would be less irritating if NE had an academy. And it would even sort of make sense if they did, just make them use one of their two spots.
    It seems like the league is allowing NE to circumvent the academy system much in the same way it allowed LA to grandfather in a DP.”

    Cutting and pasting this because it is EXACTLY correct.

    As tiresome as conspiracy theories are, I wonder if this is the “quo” in some quid pro quo that first saw Kraft and the Revs acceding to some other reform (perhaps by voting for the academy system proposal).


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