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MLS Notes: Reports link Saviola to Sounders, Reo-Coker close to Whitecaps move, and more

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The Seattle Sounders are heading into the 2013 MLS season with an available Designated Player spot, and the rumors are sure to fly as links to big-name players emerge.

Add Javier Saviola to that list. The Argentine striker, who counts Barcelona and Real Madrid among his former club, has been linked to a summer move to the Sounders by multiple Argentine journalists via Twitter on Friday.

Saviola is currently playing for Spanish side Malaga, and while there had been reports linking him to a move to Argentine side River Plate, the latest rumblings in Argentina suggest he has MLS in his future. That may just be posturing by agents, but if there is credence to the Saviola rumor, the Sounders could be adding a piece to make them a championship-caliber squad.

Here are some more stories to catch you up on the latest in MLS:


The Vancouver Whitecaps want to sign English-born midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, and the former Aston Villa player wants to join the Whitecaps, but the Portland Timbers are standing in the way of a deal being done as they hold Reo-Coker’s discovery rights, according to a report by The Vancouver Province.

A trade seems likely between the Cascadia rivals, and if one can get done then the Whitecaps will be adding a serious upgrade in midfield in Reo-Coker. The 28-year-old midfielder, who had been linked by rumors to the New York Red Bulls earlier in the winter, is currently a free agent.


One of the last remaining teams in Major League Soccer without their own soccer stadium, either built or under construction, D.C. United has gone through a lengthy ordeal trying to secure their own home and now it appears they be finally be on the verge of a deal.

“The stars are aligning in a good way for us,” D.C. United managing partner Jason Levein told the Washington Post regarding the team’s plans for a stadium. “We’re working closely with the right people and we feel better about it today than we did three months ago, no question.”

D.C. United is considering a stadium project in Buzzards Point, a swath of unused land in Southwest D.C., not far from Nationals Park. Another development in the Washington Post report was Levein’s revelation that D.C. United will not consider a move to Baltimore, and is focused on keeping the team in Washington.


What do you think of these developments? Think Saviola would be a great signing for Seattle, or think he’s past his best? See Reo-Coker making the Whitecaps a lock playoff team in the West? Starting to believe D.C. United will finally get a stadium, or have you experienced too many false alarms to believe anything until a stadium is actually built?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. All that these ludicrous “discovery rights” do is work to keep quality talent out of the league. Time for MLS to drop this completely backwards rule.

    I also agree that “returning” US national team players, especially guys like Bedoya who never even played in MLS, should be able to go to the club of their choice and not have to deal with this ridiculous allocation system. Same for other returning players whose “rights” aren’t held by anyone. They should be able to go to any team they choose.

    MLS play in general could be at a higher quality if these two rules were tossed.

  2. Fingers crossed… Fantastic addition to our league! Hopefully Reo can regain his form and if Saviola does sign, it will help us attract more Latin American players. Chivas came close to signing Riquelme and at 31 Saviola can still give us 3 productive years.

  3. Saviola played greatest clubs: River Plate, Barca and Real. Saviola is not too old and performing well in La Liga. While Reo-Cooker been un-active and fitness might issue, Reo-Cooker as non-DP might be a great signing.

  4. How old is Saviola? He would be a great get for the sounders and MLS. Although Reo-Coker seems a bit inconsistent, I think he has some real quality and has been undervalued in the EPL; he would also make an excellent addition and upgrade the league. MLS is making definite progress in quality and depth.

  5. I think mls is mature enough to get rid of the discovery system. If Reo-Coker wants to sign with Vancouver than he should be able to without Vancouver having to make some sort of deal with Portland.

    On that same note, I believe MLS should be making it easier for US internationals to come back to whatever team they want.

    I understand these mechanisms have served a function, but its time to move beyond them.

    • I agree with your points.

      In general I am in favor of the MLS’ strict adherence to competitive balance. I think those principles may not allow the league to grow as fast as it could, however I believe they will sustain growth in the long term better than other ideologies.

      That said I think the discovery rights is past its time and need adjustment. It’s kind of like Apple’s suit over rounded edges for phones. Unnecessary.

    • While I think the rule needs to be refined, it’s not quite ready to go.

      The Reo-Coker situation is silly because Portland was simply the first team to “claim” him.

      As a counterpoint, I present the Kris Boyd situation from last year. He was on absolutely nobody’s radar until the Dynamo footed the bill to recruit him to MLS. He didn’t want to stay in Houston, but Portland wound up with a package on their doorstep. While we all see how well that worked out for Boyd and Portland, I think trading a draft pick for his rights in such a situation is completely fair.

      Until the day when merely playing for any MLS squad is prestigious enough for lower-tier international players (a la Boyd, Reo Coker), the rule needs to stay.

      • This is interesting to me, and serves as a good counter argument to my comments above. Would like to hear others input on this.

        This clause could then be considered an incentive for MLS teams to invest the money necessary to recruit higher talent that might otherwise not consider the league.

        Anyone familiar with how common these discovery rights claims are used by teams? What big name players have had there move facilitated by this rule?

      • It’s a problem when players careers are held hostage by teams playing hardball with one another. Players like Boyd and Reo-Coker ought to have earned the right to be free agents considering their respective careers. Discovery rights should only apply to lower-level players trying to work their way up to MLS.

      • Huh. I’m not sure I see the Boyd situation as “on nobody’s radar”.

        As I understand it, discovery claims are known only to the club and the MLS main office. Just because New England puts someone on their discovery list doesn’t mean it tips off the entire league to start looking at someone. I honestly don’t remember at all what Boyd’s exact details were before he joined Portland (I know he was in Turkey not getting paid or played, but can’t remember if he came over for an official trial with Houston or if it was publicly announced he was negotiating a contract with them). I do recall having to give Houston a first round pick AND allocation cash for his rights so that we could overpay him. I am sure Boyd was on our Scottish (yes, I realize Kinear is Scottish too) coach’s radar – same way we picked up Steven Smith last year.

        To that end, I can see a 2-3 week window of exclusive negotiating time with a team who puts in the effort to bring a guy in and look at him. But if the player doesn’t like the fit or the team doesn’t, it seems silly to expect compensation for being the team to put a player on a list at the league office AND hold both players and other teams hostage. If a player can’t come to an agreement with a club then he should be a free agent.

    • It’s worth noting that Portland are also in the same situation with Silvestre right now, with Seattle claiming discovery on him.

      So whether it is just the Cascadian rivals making life more difficult for each other, or simply the business interested that run these teams just working with the cards they are dealt, it is creating a logjam for all teams.

      While the system, however asinine, is still in place, it only makes sense that the teams who hold these discovery rights should want something in return for relinquishing them. Unfortunately it not only works against the player’s individual bargaining power, but can potentially foul up any deal, in effect driving up their acquisition cost beyond the cost/benefit outcome that a given team is willing to pay.

      • I was just going to say the same thing about Silvestre. The Timbers apparently did want him. Seattle was (at least publicly, who knows if this is just rivalry stoking or real) apparently miffed that the Timbers used him in a preseason game (and against them) since he was “their discovery player”. Rumor had it the salary he was asking was pretty steep for the Timbers anyway, add to this having to send a draft pick or allocation cash or something to Seattle on top of it and suddenly the deal is much less palatable (coming off getting burned by Houston last year for them giving us the rights to Boyd and having to give them draft picks and money for the rights to what turned out to be a bust).

        I think the discovery process has some merit, but it is too open ended. If you have contacted a player that you are interested in bringing in for a trial (and the player is interested in you), there could be some 2-3 week window to get that done and start negotiating a deal. If you can’t get it done in that timeframe then something is seriously wrong and he becomes a true free agent to MLS teams. That 2-3 weeks at least gives the club exclusive opportunity for their efforts and keeps other clubs from showing up at their training and signing him out from under you (doubt that would be a big problem).

        The whole idea that foreign established players can be discovered / have MLS rights held by a team is pretty silly but I can see where a massively scaled back version may at least be a benefit. The idea that these free “rights” (which were not consented to by the player) to an unsigned player should be worth something in return is absolutely ridiculous.

      • +1 i like the idea of discovery right only being good for a certain amount of time. Preferably one that can expire within a transfer window period.

        As for the returning US player allocation deal; this absolutely needs to go. there should be no disincentives for US National team players to find their desired places in the domestic league.

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