Top Stories

Holden offered improved MLS contract as transfer window nears

Stuart Holden 2 (Reuters)


After enjoying a dream year for club and country, Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden is largely considered to be the next player in the U.S. pipeline to make the jump from MLS to Europe during the upcoming winter transfer window. But that potential move seems to be in jeopardy after MLS made an unexpected move.

According to reports out of Europe, Holden has been offered ten times his current salary by MLS, and could snub a move abroad to stay in the U.S. This report claims MLS commisioner Don Garber held talks with Holden last week in an effort to keep him from going to Europe.

"I was pretty flattered," Holden told the Evening Times. "It shows the commitment the MLS has in keeping me in the league. I know this decision is going to impact my career."

Holden is still considering overseas offers, and even though MLS has offered a raise, the MLS offer is still considerably less than what Holden could make in Europe. Scottish Premier League clubs Rangers and Aberdeen have been linked with the U.S. national team midfielder.

Holden enjoyed a career season with the Houston Dynamo in 2009, scoring six goals and assisting on three others in 26 league games. Holden also made his national team debut this year, playing in 12 games.

(SBI-So what's my take? While MLS is offering a major salary increase in MLS terms, it is still not a Designated Player salary, and closer to a max non-DP offer in the $320K-$400K range. While that is good money from an MLS standpoint, it is well below what Holden can make in Europe from teams that can offer olarge signing bonuses for a player who is effectively a free agent. I would still put Holden's chances of staying in MLS at slim.)

What do you think of Holden possibly staying in MLS? Think Holden will decide to play abroad anyway?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. MLS needs more forsight in signing their up and coming talent to reasonable contract extentions. Holden has been a rising star for at least the last year and maybe 2. Instead of waiting until he becomes a free agent and getting into a bidding war with European teams, MLS should have signed him to an extension last year for 3x to 4x what he was making. That would have made Holden happy and saved MLS money. Also, if a European team came calling they could have made a tidy sum in a transfer.

    If a European team came calling and offered me $800k or more to play in even a low to mid level European league, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark. I know what I’d choose.

  2. I bet MLS is offering to make him their poster boy. He is personable and good; just what MLS needs. Two years as one of the top players and most popular then he either can sign as a DP for millions in the MLS or move overseas with his large american fan base not far behind.

  3. Every national player in our pool should be striving for Europe!!! You play the game as a kid hoping one day you’ll step on a field in Europe, the holy grail of FUTBOL!! Anyone who dreams as a kid that one day he will play for the MLS is not that ambitious!! Those are very low standards if you ask me!

    Europe is the ultimate stage in a soccer players career! Everyone who plays Futbol should be dreaming of one day to play for a European team, whether is, Celtic,Rangers,PSV,Herreveen,Ajax,Hammarby,Lyon,Porto,Benfica,Man u,Barca,etc…. It doesn’t matter for who, but to play against the best footballers in the world.

    Those who say Holden should stay in the MLS have no idea about the game.

  4. well said. he will be the “donovan” most likely during the JanCamp and vs. Honduras. that plus a few solid months playing with Dominic Kinnear will put him in a much better situation for this coming year

  5. Big Q for our leader, Ives…Does MLS have a contract clause or trusted practice of “Sign & Trade” like the NBA (and maybe MLB)…Is it something that the Players’ union is hip to?…It would suck for all concerned if Stuey, my boy, left MLS on a FREE and no-one got any $$$$s.

  6. IMHO, dunno if Convey’s time was a failure…Over 3 years, he played on team gaining promotion, and played in their 1st EPL season while achieving what the Italians call La Salvezza, Salvation aka Avoiding the Drop. After that injuries got to him…

  7. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out, but seriously… it’s a World Cup year. There’s no way those guys strike. If ANY of them harbor World Cup ambitions, they would torpedo it by going into work stoppage. If they stop playing, then any of the solid/fringe nats who play MLS will take whatever shot they can in a European league or in Mexico/South America. There’s just no way something like a strike is a doable thing for national team players.

  8. if the mls really wants to foster american soccer players, why not have a cap on foreign players pay, but uncap american born players pay. It’d be great if we could hold on to the mid-tier players or up and coming ones in the mls instead of having them get paid a bunch in Europe to ride the pine and not improve.

  9. The dichotomy between what’s best for the USMNT and MLS in the short term vs. the long term is the key. As a National Team fan who thinks we can do well in South Africa, I want to see Stu (and the other boys) get as much PT as possible, with as high quality teammates and opponents as possible, between now and June. If a team like Fulham, Everton, Villareal, Eindhoven, any respectable club in a respectable league would pick up Holden and give him decent minutes, it would be great for him short term. Altidore is starting to show good things with Hull, for example.

    But as several have mentioned above, in the long run for MLS to reach and sustain a level worthy of comparison to the top Euro leagues, they need to hold on to talent like Holden, and attract more foreign players (and not just the over-30 guys looking to try living in the States for a few years). I believe the league is moving in the right direction, with Seattle as a prime example. MLS needs to develop solid revenue streams so they can afford to pay talented players enough to make staying worth their while.

    So hopefully whatever Stu decides, he’ll get on the pitch and keep up his form. Whether as a starter or a super-sub, I think the US’s prospects will be affected greatly by this kid.

  10. Very true that the more tickets/jerseys/etc are sold, the better MLS will do. But, consider that a lot of USMNT fans don’t live very close to MLS teams… I live in Pittsburgh and do my best to make it to Columbus a couple times a year (and caught a game in Chicago during a work trip this year too). But a 6 hour round trip is not something I can do for every Columbus home game. And that’s in the Northeast where the geographic density of teams is relatively high. Fans in the Southeast, AZ/NM, Minnesota, etc. would have to make a serious financial and time commitment to regularly attend games.

    I hope the fans who are blessed with teams in their cities will support MLS more as the league develops.

  11. I’d love to see Stu stay in Major League Soccer, but I think “getting paid” is the most important thing to Stu and he will head to much greener pastures somewhere in the backwoods of Europe.

  12. Sorry. You’re “opportunity cost” analysis left out too many variables. One, if he goes to Europe and doesn’t play, his chances of make the World Cup are very slim. Two, if he goes to the World Cup and has a decent tournament, his value goes up exponentially and he could potentially secure a huge pay day after that.

    That would negate your alleged delta, wouldn’t it?


  13. I think the unknown weighs in favor of heading across the pond (of course, that assumes that he has those concrete options). From the reporting on CNN and Soccernet, it sounds like negotiations are not progressing. That would lead me to two points:

    1) If they strike, my understanding is that they can’t even practice together as a team (correct me if I am wrong). Thus, not only would Stuart (and others) not get playing time in competitive matches, they would be on their own.

    2) (unrelated to Holden) A strike would be the worst possible thing to happen to MLS. I cannot think of a bigger disaster for the present and future success of the league. I welcome any counterarguments, but I can’t think of a worse situation vis a vis new teams, new fans, and a bad economy.

  14. You know what it is? It’s that we have so many bandwagon Man United fans that they think whatever team they choose to follow should win every year. Anything less is a disappointment.

  15. Lack of MLS commitment to improve player quality ?


    lack of US soccer fans attending MLS games to improve player quality ?

    I think it is the latter. We will see when the league increase salary caps with newfound Sounders type money.

  16. Well as a Seattle fan I have not had too many GREAT seasons outside of the Sounders.

    The MLS will never have fans until it can keep the Holdens of the nation.

    Not making the Final 16 (WCup ’06 ) and then have even those players leave for Europe is not the winners US fans will pay money to watch.

    IF Garber is worth anything his conversation is probing around how much less he would accept to stay here.

  17. Don’t forget he was at Sunderland a few years ago before he got blasted in the face…. he will definitely blossom in Europe. Staying in MLS is a huge mistake.


Leave a Comment