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MLS Hot Stove: The Kassel situation

Matt Kassel (RedBulls)   

Matt Kassel could not have asked for a much better freshman season in college than the one he just finished. The New Jersey native just helped Maryland to an NCAA title in what could wind up being his only season of college soccer.

According to multiple sources, Kassel is leaning heavily toward turning pro and is presently exploring his options, which include seriously considering signing with MLS.

If you think Kassel's MLS options begin and end with the New York Red Bulls, think again.

If Kassel decides to sign with MLS (and sources tell SBI the league is ready to offer him a Generation adidas contract if he does) the Red Bulls would then have the right to add Kassel directly to its roster as a homegrown player. However, if the Red Bulls pass on Kassel, he would then go into the 2009 MLS Draft.

MLS Director of Player Programs Alfonso Mondelo confirmed to SBI that a player in Kassel's situation would indeed enter the 2009 MLS Draft if the Red Bulls were to pass on signing him after he had already been signed by the league, which means the Red Bulls will have a tough decision to make. The club didn't think Kassel was MLS-ready last summer and didn't want to exercise the Generation adidas homegrown player mechanism on Kassel for that reason (in part because the team would then be prevented from using the mechanism for two to three years). Do the Red Bulls sign Kassel and take their chances that they won't miss out on the next big homegrown prospect, or do they let Kassel go into a 2009 MLS Draft where he would be a potential first-round draft pick?

As for whether MLS will actually sign Kassel to a Generation adidas contract, the league was ready to do so last spring so now that Kassel has a year of college soccer under his belt he is an even more attractive option.

So what will the Red Bulls do? It is tough to say. If not for the possibilty of him entering the draft I would see the Red Bulls passing, but can the club really just let one of its most highly-coveted products just head into the draft?

What do you think of these developments? Do you think the Red Bulls taking Kassel if MLS does? Could you see the Red Bulls passing and Kassel winding up on an arch-rival like D.C. United (which has two first-round picks)?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I see what your saying Alex, next year though he’d be an undisputed starter at midfield and I think an extra year there would benefit him a lot.

    I didn’t see every regular season game unfortunately but based on what I saw Kassel’s a good player, he made the All ACC Freshman team, but it’s not yet time for him to make the jump.

  2. How does staying at Maryland help him? If he has the potential to go pro like most are suggesting, then he needs to be developed in that setting. What most fail to realize is that college soccer sometimes hurts rather than helps these athletes. Check out an article on by Andrea Canales

  3. There’s a reason for the 2-3 year rule. The Generation Adidas program is EXPENSIVE. It includes scholarship money and some salary guarantees that even few MLS veterans get. I think it’s a great program that merits expanding but apparently MLS doesn’t for now.

    So there are spots for about 1 player per team each year. The program is funded by Adidas (and previously by Nike). Adidas isn’t going to up its commitment for free. If MLS let every team sign 1 player each year, there’d be no spots for players not in MLS academies. So forget signing Opara, Omar Gonzalez, etc. There’d be no money. MLS has to have some parity in the amount of GA players on each team (or at least I think so).

    So the issue isn’t the limitation of 2-3 years in the rule. It’s the total number of GA spots. MLS teams would be spending Adidas money and might be too easy to hand over a big contract if they had nothing to lose by making the selection. As MLS acadamies pick up, hopefully there will be more talent that merits GA contracts. Most years after about 5-10 guys, there aren’t sure bets (the washout rate right now is ~20%). Right now GA is reserved for guys MLS think will be career pros. I want it to be more, but that will come at a significant price.

  4. This is really EASY……sign him.

    CBA is up next year. Bet on them ripping up the 1 GA homegrown player every 3 years.

    Get what you can now, then bank on MLS throwing the rulebook in the garbage.

    Look at the 1 DP rule and how MLS said if Landy was going to stay with LA they would have to trade to get a 2nd DP spot…….1 year later, just change the rule.

  5. So may idiots here. When will you understand that its NEVER about what a talented young player can do RIGHT NOW…its about what they can do for you IN THE FUTURE.

    By bypassing this player you have effectivly signaled to every player in your academy that unless they are Leo Messi they have ZERO chance of signing for the first team and instead must choose college or abroad. What a wonderful waste of no pay youth system!

    Kassel is already more talented that most the entire draft class and his upside is huge, not to mention he was groomed BY US!

    You are idiots if you think passing on him because he cant be a starter right now is a justifiable reason to not include him in the squad…what will you say in 3 years when he is tearing it up elsewhere when he would be starting for us.


  6. Unless there is some other young player already in RBNY’s developmental pipeline who looks like he will certainly be better within 2 years, this seems like a no-brainer. The value of a homegrown player slot is less than that of a DP slot, so if Kassel flops it’s not a disaster. This sounds like a high potential reward for only a modest risk.

  7. Like others here, I was more impressed by Terps freshman Casey Townsend than I was with Kassel in the 4 or 5 Maryland games I saw towards the end of the season. In Kassel’s defense it’s easier to make a flashy impression on a casual observer if you play forward (like Townsend) instead of a holding mid. Plus Kassel was returning from injury in the final games (he didn’t even play in some of the games I saw).

    Kassel might turn out to be a pretty good pro but there are at least a half dozen other players from Maryland’s team that might be more ready to make an impact in MLS. Generation Adidas signings are usually not players that are about to make a big impact but players who still need some years to develop. Jozy Altidore was an exception not the norm.

    To clear up all confusion I think Matt Kassel should go to Foxboro where he could back up Matt Cassel. For the Patriots.

  8. i still think columbus crew and seattle should be banned from the mls and red bulls should choose any players they want from either team..any1 agree with me?

  9. Kassel was not a dominant player in the college environment. Although he played often and a lot, he was a bench player at this level. He is not ready for MLS. PASS!


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