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Chicago and Toronto FC be warned: MLS could step into McBride allocation mess


The long and drawn-out negotiations between Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire for the rights to Brian McBride have reached a stalemate, and MLS is ready to step into the fray if it has to.

MLS commissioner Don Garber admitted on Wednesday that if the Fire and Toronto can’t come to anagreement on a deal that MLS will step in to help broker a deal. Just what sort of deal remains to be seen.

"The league, at some point, has to determine whether we get involved," Garber said of the McBride allocation situation.

"We’ll manage through it, like everything else with us," Garber said. "They always come down to the wire and we generally have gotten them resolved.

"The league doesn’t want to get involved and our hope is that we won’t get involved," Garber said. "We hope that the market and common sense prevails."

Garber called McBride’s situation a "special situation" and believes that McBride should wind up with Chicago. He was clear to state that he would like to see Chicago and Toronto be reasonable in negotiations.

While it had been believed that MLS might get involved in this situation, Garber’s comments on Wednesday were the first public statements made by the league on the situation.

"Hopefully both (Toronto) and Chicago will realize that it’s in their mutual best interests, and the interest of our fans, to have Brian (McBride) in the league and to have Toronto get some benefit by being in the spot that they were in."

What do you think of this development? Should the league be getting involved? Should MLS stay out of it? What should Chicago give up? What should Toronto accept?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I don’t blame Chicago for stonewalling. McBride is old and is going to play in the Olympics this year. The risk is high with delayed short term benefits and no long term benefits. Nobody (including Toronto) would be gutting their team for this guy.

  2. I don’t blame Chicago for stonewalling. McBride is old and is going to play in the Olympics this year. The risk is high with delayed short term benefits and no long term benefits. Nobody (including Toronto) would be gutting their team for this guy.

  3. I simply can’t believe that the Fire will not give up Chad Barett for McHead. If that is really the case then Frank Klopas is much dumber than he looks. I’m thinking that TFC started way too high thinking that they struck gold with this allocation thing. Like many have pointed out the Fire have all the cards.

    1) McBride is unsigned and has stated that he either plays for the Fire or retires.

    2) TFC has the right to sign him only through the end of the season, at which point the slot falls to Seattle, a team that would love some allocation money and is not in the eastern conference.

    3) McBride is going to the olympics so at the earliest he would join the Fire in September. (that’s 2 months and the playoffs)

    The Fire CAN wait to make a move until the price is right, while Toronto can wait and get nothing. Worst case senario for the Fire they get McBride for next season. Worst case for Toronto, they get squat for their allocation lottery strike, while watching a conference rival they didn’t want to strengthen make a run in the playoffs from home. If TFC can live with that so be it, but you better believe the Fire can live with a fresh McHead for next season.

    Frankie, just give them Chad “I can do everything a striker can but finish” Barett and a bit of money and let’s bring Brian home. If TFC doesn’t want the deal, then I’m sure Seattle would.

  4. not to mention TFC is limiting themselves on intl’ roster spots and Cap space…. with the addition of Dichov (sp??) i think they MIGHT have 2 intl spots left and i have no idea what their cap space is looking like…

    but Mapp is pulling i think 80-100k currently… Conde is 150k+ and Marmol is also at 150k…. i dont think Mo wants his remaining cap space used in such a way… he’ll push for Mapp or Rolfe, but i dont know if the fire will let it happen or if the league would even enforce it….

    Conde to TFC to NYRB still sounds like an interesting trade… but we’ll see… JCO is brining in an entire new and foriegn squad… we’ll see if they even need Conde at that point…

  5. Tim F- honestly…. conde marmol and map/rolfe?? are you reading what you are typing… that is way to much for BMB… sorry… you expect us to give up 2 starters (3 starters given Marmol gets his go)…???

    Conde and Marmol would be fine, but your addition of Mapp or Rolfe at the end is farce…

    “or Brian should just join Toronto FC”

    wow, that was worse then the first part… Brian doesnt HAVE to sign with anyone… what you seem to be missing is BMB doesnt need the MLS, the MLS needs BMB… if Chicago isnt an option, its early retirement… plain n’ simple

  6. As a MLS fan but not a fan of either club,

    Toronto should get Conde, Marmol and either Mapp or Rolfe for the rights to Brian McBride or Brian should just join Toronto FC

  7. fire standpoint:

    Mapp and Rolfe- out of bounds… these guys are franchise players and will continue to don a fire jersey…

    Conde, Marmol, Barrett- all these players are trade bait….. Conde b/c he’ll be either leaving the league or at least the team in Jan…. Marmol may be bait, b/c at the moment he doesnt seem to be fitting into our playstyle…. and Barrett is bait b/c despite being the leading scorer for the Fire, he’s so off an on that the league may see that as a reasonable player in the offer

    what i think will happen: if the league jumps into this situation, then we’ll probably see 1 player (barrett/conde/marmol), either $$$ or allocation, and a relatively low draft pick (or possibly a couple medium d.picks)…

    as steve pointed out, BMB’s return is not like LD’s return… LD was early 20’s, BMB is late 30’s… i would definately trade Mapp if i knew we wold get an mid 20’s BMB, but trading a youthful talent for a player we may only see for 1 SEASON is folly

  8. Papa, not sure where in the world you read that but Toronto FC is not asking for Rolfe AND Mapp and cash. That’s dumb.

    Also, the whole “Let poor Brian McBride do what he wants, he’s old and wants to come home” line is bit is weak. McBride will be one of the league’s top forwards the moment he sets foot on the field so for Chicago to land him without giving up anything that really impacts their roster when the Fire wasn’t the next in line in the allocation order would be highly questionable.

  9. Eugene: “Why won’t Chicago give up Justin Mapp or Chris Rolfe? I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that having McBride wouldn’t be more valuable to a team than having Mapp or Rolfe.”

    has to be the dumbest thing ive read on these 2 pages of posts…. are you serious?? why wont the fire give up 2 young talented players??

    Rolfe and Mapp are not stellar players… they probably wont ever play their trade in europe… the Fire pretty much have Franchise players in them… they’ll be in the MLS for the rest of their careers (most likely)…. and they are established MLS players… why would the fire trade them is a better question…

  10. Why are so many of you whining about something that has NOT happened, at least yet? TFC has not been stuck and Chicago has not been forced to give more than it wants. If either of these do happen, and I mean from a reasonably objective veiwpoint, THEN complain. Meanwhile, try to show a bit of patience and see what happens.

  11. @Posted by: Shakes | July 16, 2008 at 09:12 PM

    You don’t see how tossing away something that could add hundreds of thousands of dollars and or picks and players to your club for a player who would never play for your club anyway is a stupid thing?

    If giving Chicago McBride for say $150K in allocation cash isn’t a way to improve their team (pssst Emilio was signed for $150K) then Mo needs to pack it up because he has no eye for talent.

  12. @Posted by: Ossington Mental Youth | July 16, 2008 at 05:05 PM

    Of course they’ll step in on Chicago’s behalf. Mo is asking for Rolfe AND Mapp AND cash. That’s a ludicrous premium for a 36 year old player coming to take a retirement tour.

    I’m willing to bet you’ll get Mapp and a pick OR cash which is more than fair value (and still seems a bit steepish)

    @Posted by: Dannyc58 | July 16, 2008 at 05:06 PM

    If you can’t see why the two situations aren’t 100% analogous let me be the first to congratulate you on the lobotomy.

    I do agree though that drafts and allocations should be done away with since we’d have McBride by now and not have to give up a damn thing for him. Oh and you can have Marmol, he sucks and can’t even crack the dress 18 for us. He’s basically a $150K waste of space if his ‘performance’ against Columbus was any indication.

  13. Garber can’t resist the opportunity to remind us why the management of this league is an absolute, utter, complete joke.

  14. But, of course, Gerba is not a “returning” player, having never been in MLS…

    Can anyone name a returning Canadian international? Will Johnson (rights retained by Fire)? Felix Brillant?

  15. Ives:

    We have heard a lot about what TFC wants for McBride but can you tell me what Chicago is willing to give up? It is hard to say who is being unreasonable in these talks when we only hear about one side. I doubt that Chicago is doing McBride a favor by taking him. They want him becasue they think he can make an impact now and next year.

  16. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that MLS would broker a deal…a bit like sending a player’s deal to arbitration in England.

    Sure, they don’t always get what they think they deserve, but someone has to make the call of what is fair. MLS, as the single-entity controlling pretty much everything, but not least ownership of contracts, seems to be the logical party.

    The whole allocation and discovery process is garbage, and needs to be removed.

    If it stays, I would welcome more league mediated arbitrations for disputes such as this, Marmol, Matt Jansen, and even ones that resolved themselves, like Huckerby and future cases like George Welcome….

  17. Why is this even an issue? Toronto FC did not even exist when McBride left to play overseas. I suggest that all players that return after 3 years are considered free agents. McBride does not deserve this kind of saga.

  18. As for McBride’s quality show me one other player who will join MLS this summer that is wanted by a Premiership team.

    Mo saying that he will let McBride rot and the allocation go to Seattle is him just pandering to the TFC fan base and they’re all buying it.


    Because if all of us could see the league stepping in months ago then surely he could too. Or he is as stupid as he looked when he was employed by the Metros.

    Its a big game of chicken with both sides thinking they will get the better half of the deal when MLS arbitrates or at the very least be able to pacify components of their fan bases.

    If TFC gets a bad deal Mo can blame MLS for not getting Mapp or Rolfe and if the Fire have to give one of them up they can tell those in their fan base in the don’t mortgage the future camp that they tried not to.

  19. Seriously? So MLS will step in and deliver Chicago the player they want at a price that Toronto wouldn’t otherwise find acceptable? What a joke.

    These are the league’s idiotic rules, and if they don’t like the result it’s time to scrap them equally for all players and teams, not create a Galaxy-esque special dispensation. Great job, Don.

  20. I’d also like to mention something that was said by other commenters

    Some folks keep saying “oh, if Toronto waits, they get nothing”. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    If no deal is made, and the rights go to Seattle, Toronto FC successfully prevented a division rival (in Chicago) from gaining a world-class striker (in McBride) for the entire season.

    From TFC’s perspective, it’s perfectly reasonable – either you get a quality striker and we get a quality player in return, or we get nothing and you get nothing. Either way, Toronto FC is no worse off.

    You’re an idiot of you slag a team for doing what is best for their team, in accordance with league rules. Don’t think Seattle won’t do the same, if it comes to that. The idea that they won’t because they are American, and “they understand” the importance of McBride to the league, is folly.

    – Scott

  21. @John

    “The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that all these Canadian players making the all-star team is actually part of the deal that Garber & Co. have already brokered between TFC and The Fire. Of course, if the league announced the deal and then placed all the TFC and other Canadian players on the team, it would all look shady.”


    Perhaps I’m just thick, but what exactly does Toronto FC have to gain by having non-TFC Canadian players in the ASG?

    Toronto FC isn’t owned by the Canadian Soccer Association, and they don’t benefit by having players like DeRo in the ASG.

    – Scott

  22. Where is everyone getting this “rules are going to be broken” attitude from? Garber says that they don’t want to get involved, but if it comes to that, they will help broker a deal. That doesn’t mean they are going to let the Fire have him for nothing. And the Ruiz example does not hold water. Landon at the time was a young emerging superstar.McHead is coming in on the downside of his career, and won’t even be making DP money.

  23. There is no reason for Chicago to make any deal at all until McBride is ready to join the team. Let the mud settle and let Mo howl until mid August. Then ask him if the allocation is starting to smell like last weeks prawns. What is one month and a couple/few playoff games of a guy worth? Anyway, BMB could get hurt in China. Id wait.

  24. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that all these Canadian players making the all-star team is actually part of the deal that Garber & Co. have already brokered between TFC and The Fire. Of course, if the league announced the deal and then placed all the TFC and other Canadian players on the team, it would all look shady.

  25. So who’s to say that the league doesn’t come in and arbitrate that Mapp or Rolfe or whoever is a fair trade? Would that be unjust?

    Posted by: anotherbodymurdered | July 16, 2008 at 06:59 PM


    Shhhhhhhhhhhh …. Shitcago fans don’t want to hear that. Everyone assumes that the league stepping in means that the Fire will get their way ….. would not be surprised to see them forced to give up one of TFC’s targeted players. And to everyone who wants to say that the Donovan situation does not compare to McBride due to age … lets remember that Landon ran home crying from Europe because he could not hack it …. McBride is returning as a bonefide European-calibre striker.

  26. I think CHICAGO SHOULD STOP BEING GREEDY and let other teams, conference competitors or not get some players. This whole situation is bad karma to Chicago for having screwed over Conde and Marmol, neither of whom wanted to be there.

    I think if the league steps in, they should pressure Chicago to give up comparable value for McBride (or some semblence of comparable value), rather than force Toronto to make Chicago much stronger without having gained anything in the process.

    Why won’t Chicago give up Justin Mapp or Chris Rolfe? I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that having McBride wouldn’t be more valuable to a team than having Mapp or Rolfe.

  27. Ok, I love BMB as much as anybody else here, he is a legend. However, I can’t for the life of me grasp the notion that BMB is some sort of superstar and that sacreficing league credibility (by forcing a trade between TFC and Chi) is worth the suppossed “marketability” BMB would bring to mls? Anyone else remember another glorified US player that came in to the league and who had little to no effect on the “marketability” end of things? Remember Claudio Reyna, people? The parallels are uncanny: He came straight from the EPL where he had a great career, and had an amazing career with the nats as well. If anything, Reyna’s accomplishments outweight BMB’s. Reyna played for a midtable team, while BMB and fulham have crawled from the bottom three for the last two years straight. Reyna was THE captain america, earning best XI honors at WC 02. And with all those accomplishments, tell me how did his coming to mls help the league? The buzz when reyna came was nice, but minimal. He didn’t increase the “visibility” of the league by much, if at all, and had little to no effect on attendance numbers or viewer numbers. And all that was BEFORE we found out he would be so disappointing on the field! Now, I’m not comparing the “quality” of these two guys… I definitely think BMB is still a top forward who can contribute 1-2 more years of playing, while reyna’s coming was very questionable from the get-go. I’m just comparing the things that the league will use to “sell” BMB to the public, and how he will be any different than reyna in that respect ONLY. Why will BMB be more “sellable” than reyna? If you think, like me, that from a marketing point of view, both reyna and BMB are pretty much even, and you though reyna’s initial introduction to mls as not very well received by in large, then why will anything be different for BMB? And thus is why I question the whole “he must be here for the good of the league” idea… Unless one of BMB’s B’s stand for “beckham”, he will not be much more visable than reyna was. No doubt it is better to have an mls with BMB than without him, but bending the rules to get him signed while using the “he will be good for the league” idea seems flat to me. Which is a shame because I love the guy, but I would love a credible league much more so.

  28. To compare this situation to Landon Donovan means you can’t perform basic mathematical equations. Landon was a child, McBride is in the twilight of his career; I am not suggesting that he will not produce. To use Marmol situation also is not vaild. Marmol is new to US soccer, Brian has given his life to it. The comm makes valid point this is “special” situation and special consideration needs to be given.

  29. To Satan — I think that besides just focussing on Chicago, Toronto also needs to compete with NE, DC and Columbus. They might be so worried about helping Chicago, pass on improving their team, and end up watching the playoffs on tv. I personally think that push comes to shove, Toronto should be willing to take something short of Mapp, Rolfe, Conde if they think they can help compete with the rest of the east. Maybe someone like Marmol, Nyarko (if they like him), Robinson, Barrett.

  30. I don’t see why it’s not within Chicago’s rights to encourage McBride to enjoy the Olympics, rest up, tell Toronto to pound sand, and then deal with Seattle next year who will have a clean slate and take far more reasonable compensation.

    If Toronto wants more value for the allocation, go recruit an allocation worthy player that wants to play for them.

  31. Mo Johnston said on GOLTV Canada that he’s willing to just let the allocation claim go to Seattle and get nothing from Chicago.

    People talk about how if he refuses, TFC gets “nothing”. But in the end, they spoil a team that they are competing against, so they win. And if they get very little from Chicago, then suddenly Chicago gets significantly better than Toronto, which is essentially a loss for TFC. TFC should either get 1 good player, like Mapp or Conde, or get nothing. The middle option sucks.

  32. Why can’t Chicago make a deal? Mapp, Rolfe, Marmol, Conde, Barrett & $500,000 Cash for McBride. What’s the problem?

  33. TFC has every right to demand a high price for McBride. Doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. The longer the negotiations go, the more bargaining position TFC loses. They are going to be faced with a take something or get nothing proposal. Everybody knew the league was going to step in and make them like, it was just a matter of when.

  34. mcbride would be, to most mls sides, instantly their best forward. this would be the case in both toronto and chicago for sure. if the league is going to prevent toronto from getting quality players like justin mapp, chris rolfe, or chad barrett from this they are off their rocker. the league made the rules and should stick by them – toronto fc should not have to settle for less to accommodate mcbride, he knew the rules, he knew it would be this way, he’s still choosing to come to mls. in reality, we all know mcbride and other players out of contract should be able to choose their clubs, but mls is set up the way it is, and it should stay that way.

    basically – mcbride is class, and chicago has to be willing to sacrifice quality to get him.

  35. It’s a stupid rule – break it. (I’m not a fan of the Fire or TFC) Toronto can go after whomever Chicago waives to make room for McBride. Toronto needs to learn to grow grass up there. If they do that, they can probably atract some big time free agents. (which what McBride should be classified as if MLS ever wakes up) The fanbase is appealing to players, but I’m sure artificial surface kills the desire of most quality players wanting to play for TFC.

  36. The discovery rule is a joke. Why don’t we all just put “discovery” claims on anyone and everyone who is currently playing in europe while we are at it, so once they turn 40 and decide to play in the US for one season, we can demand exhorbinant settlements from the teams they want to actually play for? I’ll admit that I’m a Fire fan, so how bout this, give them Osorio so he can be their problem and not ours any longer, and we give up some cash so they can afford to sign Sukur? This Chicago/TFC is one of the few things thats a bigger joke than MLS not wanting to pay transfer fees to outside leagues…

  37. So who’s to say that the league doesn’t come in and arbitrate that Mapp or Rolfe or whoever is a fair trade? Would that be unjust?

  38. If nothing happens in this situation and Seattle gets his rights the same thing will happen. Seattle will ask for the world too. Toronto needs a striker and Chicago has plenty. Just give one up.

    The cockiness and stupidity of Chicago’s fans annoys the hell out of me.

  39. Because theoretically, theoryofworld, MLS likes to maintain the illusion of competition, like pro wrestling. Theoretically.


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