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Pappa returns to MLS, will go through allocation process

MarcoPappaChicagoFire1 (Getty)


Another former league star has decided to return to Major League Soccer.

Following a year and a half spell with Hereenveen in the Netherlands, former Chicago Fire winger Marco Pappa has officially signed with MLS for the upcoming season, pending the receipt of his international transfer certificate (ITC), P-1 visa, and a medical. The Guatemalan international will go through the allocation order to find out which club he will play for.

The Seattle Sounders are first in the allocation order, followed by Toronto FC. MLS clubs have until Friday at 4 p.m. to select Pappa.

Pappa, 26, spent a little more than four years with the Fire, making 116 appearances in regular season and postseason games combined, scoring 26 goals and creating 17 assists. Following a permanent transfer in August 2012 to Hereenveen, Pappa struggled to earn playing time, making just 13 appearances in all. Pappa and Hereenveen mutually agreed to terminate his contract earlier this month, opening up his return to MLS.

In addition to his club statistics, Pappa has also appeared for the Guatemalan National Team on nearly 40 occasions, scoring six goals in all competitions. He played nine games in 2014 World Cup qualifying, only to come up just short against the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The Chicago Fire have declared their interest in bringing Pappa back to the club but because they received a transfer fee for Pappa, they no longer hold his rights.


What do you think of this news? Think Pappa joins the Sounders? Which club do you think could use him the most?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Whiners: This doesn’t make sense. MLS must suck. Waaaaah.
    Anyone with a brain: Wrong
    Me: Quit whining. For the love of God, please quit whining.

    Ps. Is trading Rosales for Bowen and Pappa a good trade ?

  2. I would kill to have him back in Chicago. And why is Chicago so far down on the allocation list? Unless putting in your name in the hat for previous players returning takes you out of the running regardless of winning or not, in which case BULL SH*T.

  3. Every team in the league would benefit from having Pappa. But that’s not the issue. Besides cap factors (which is an issue for Seattle and probably TFC), some teams are looking at other possibilities. It’s not unlike that another US player or two might become available. For instance, what if you have your eyes on Jermaine Jones (once his loan to Besiktas ends)? Or Jozy Altidore (eager to get in a grove before the WC)? So what Columbus, Dallas, and DC all have to consider is this: is Pappa the best choice they’re going to have? And if a better player comes along (who is a natural fit for another MLS team), can they get more in trade value from that club than what Pappa is worth to them?

    Case in point: DCU had the top spot. They knew Edu was becoming available. While Edu would be an upgrade at D-mid and CB for them, they didn’t want to pay a DP salary in order to then bench Kitchen or pay Boswell $200K and sit on the bench and bury #1 pick Birnbaum even further back on the bench. So they effectively traded the rights for a player they weren’t going to sign (Edu) plus Ethan White for Jeff Parke and swapped allocation spots.

  4. If MLS is smart, they will use their conniving to get Pappa on DCUnited. There is a huge Guatamalan population here, and Pappa coming in would put many additional bottoms into the confusingly orange seats at RFK.

  5. Player Note to Agent:

    Make sure you have a transfer fee of at least the minimum amount ($1.00??) to insure you are a free agent (sort of) when you come back to the MLS. Otherwise some team who traded for somebody on another team, whose not even in the league anymore, to a team you would never even consider playing for, will have your rights, and will have to give up a good player to get YOU.

  6. In the Seattle area the rumor has been getting floated all winter that we would take him if he came back, its hard to see a much better player than him coming back this year and going into this draft

  7. Is Mario Martinez coming back to Seattle? There were rumblings of that earlier in the winter, but no concrete news since.

    If Martinez comes back, I can’t see Seattle wanting/needing Pappa. Probably couldn’t fit him in under cap, either. If no Martinez, perhaps that leaves room for Pappa…

    But even if that’s the case, I think their midfield is already crowded enough. I actually like the idea of giving Neagle the chance to nail down the left mid spot as his own…

  8. Because MLS likes to have all these mystery rules that we all wonder why certain exceptions pop up. Could a team have done a deal with his old team for a loan with the option to buy and then avoid having a player return through the allocation draft or whatever you wan to call this? So Fire would have got Pappa on a loan and next year complete the loan with a purchase transaction the next season?

  9. Yes — likely some rust on Marco — but he is 26, and I give a lot of credit to Dutch training methods. Kind of world famous in that regard.

    We shall see when he returns and hits the field, and what his level of motivation is returning to MLS as well.

  10. The rules are just baffling.

    Still, would be a really good pick-up for anyone in this league, and I enjoyed watching him play (even while rooting against him) in the past. Imagine he has only improved since we last saw him, given his still young age and the extended spell in Holland.

    Selfishly, would love to see him fall to DC — but fear that Dave Kasper and our bungling front office will not make it happen, as they have already claimed that DC are somehow just about out of money for new signings, and certainly for someone of this caliber/cost.

  11. How the *&(&(*& are Seattle and Toronto first in the order after the league just paid out nearly 20 million to finance their superstar acquisitions?!?!

    F this league.

    • Simple, DP’s don’t go through the allocation process. Of course a club could come and agree to pay $1 above the DP limit to get Pappa no matter where they are in the allocation order, but most clubs probably don’t think he is worth that much.

    • Seattle made that acquisition last year and this order is generated at the end of every year so that move wouldnt matter for this order, they made a trade to move to number 2 and then number 1 made a pick a couple weeks ago. Also DPs dont count in this process

      • Evidently DPs do count but my first points still stands. What Seattle did during last season has no bearing on this years allocation order

      • Of course what Seattle did last season has a bearing. The allocation order is set based on last year’s standings. That’s why DCU could trade the first spot to Philly for Edu. The question still remains – how the heck is Seattle number 2? Did they trade for it?

      • Yes they traded for it, I dont remember which deal but it was one of the first moves they made. When I said last year has no bearing I meant moves that they made, of course the order is determined by standings, should have been more clear on that.

  12. Didnt realize allocation was for any international player returning. Thought it was just for US and Canadian internationals. And how are the recipients of the last two biggest returns to MLS (Dempsey and Bradley) one and two in the allocation order? Doesnt seem fair. Even if DPs dont go through the allocation process, they should still have to drop to the bottom of the order as a result of that rule.

    • Because MLS helped facility the acquisition of Bradley and Dempsey. MLS didn’t facilitate the acquisition of Edu–which is why Philly had to trade with DCU to get the top spot in the allocation order… in order to be able to get Edu.

    • Two things

      1. The Allocation Order resets each off season regardless of whether a team used their AO ranking last year or not.

      2. There appears to be a change in the rules regarding the whole DP going through the AO process. Philly had to use their AO to sign Edu even though he is a DP due to the rule change.

    • The only way this happens is if Columbus (#3 in the order) is going to pick Pappa and won’t trade their spot. Columbus could just as easily sell their spot in the allocation order.

      Personally, I think it unlikely Seattle or TFC would pick Pappa–I don’t think they have the cap space (or want to spend it on him vs. other targets). But the next couple of teams (Columbus, Dallas and then DCU) all are legitimate teams that should have cap room and a desire to pick Pappa…IF…they think no-one better is coming along in a WC year.

      • Wouldn’t mind getting Pappa in at Dallas, a Moffat/Pappa pair is a pretty solid midfield spine for a relatively young winger/forward setup (Blas the exception). But I’m not so sure that Columbus will pass it up knowing that Dallas is right behind them.

      • Cap. My understanding is that this is part of the reason that Seattle has moved some of the players they have–not b/c they weren’t valued but to get under the cap and be able to afford the DPs on the team.

      • Seattle has some allocation money, plus the players they moved have opened up space (not to mention they still have the option to buy out a contract; e.g., Joseph). I don’t think cap is a concern, and the FO has made it very clear they are not done with the roster, especially midfield.

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