By Harrison Crow (@harrison_crow)
For those who weren't paying attention this past week, we learned about the possibility of Jermaine Jones headed to Major League Soccer. His cryptic instagram vaguely built upon the contested thought that he could join MLS sometime this summer. All this after the speculation that ran wild through the winter that he could be headed state side and follow Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradly, US national team mates, who have made similar transitions themselves. Instead he took the path less traveled and headed to Turkish Süper Lig, Besiktas.
It appears now, post-US World Cup, that the rumors of his connections to MLS are being renewed. Which then begs much analysis as to who might acquire him. Adding further fuel to the fire, Toronto FC has the number one spot in the allocation ranking, something they most surely would not use due to being full up on designated players and busting at the seams with their cap. They also were forced to trade key youth designated player Matias Laba, another midfielder, earlier this year for basically nothing. To a country and league rival (Vancouver). It can certainly be accepted that they have no plans to make use of that selection.
For those of you that are new to MLS, the allocation order itself is a process which MLS uses to disperse returning US National team players across the league. Some people say it's stupid, and other people say it's... well, stupid. It's what MLS has chosen to do at this point.
While it's tricky to nail down how much an individual could sign for in regards to MLS, we can at least garner a rough guess thanks to Trasnfermarkt.co.uk which has determined his rough market value to be around 2.64M £.
If we run with this number it would, obviously, put him into the designated player category, unless he signs for less than that. However, being that he endeared himself to fans during this World Cup run, we can just assume that's not going to happen.
Now everyone that has speculated a possible landing place is looking for "the best team fit" for him. I'm going in a bit different direction. I looked at all 19 teams, their total roster churn, trades involving allocation and designated player slots. From there I made a graph, because I like visuals.
Ignoring teams with all three designated players slots, that would leave us with 13 teams that have a 'spot' for Jones. Of those 13, there are three clubs that have acquired more allocation than they've received. They are: Chicago Fire, Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes
They've been clearing tons of cap room all year and recently got an international team to take up a designated player. The Fire is club that has been a staple of MLS for years and has been on the downward swing now for a couple seasons. There is room to make this deal happen and considering their last-place position in the standings, they need to do something. The fact that Frank Yallop is head of the club and often plays with two central midfielders is a further plus. Don't overlook, Chi-town.
Real Salt Lake
Now, sure, everyone is going to rebuff this idea because they have Kyle Beckerman. But after this World Cup I'm not sure that's really a 'con'. However, their formation gives more credence that it's unlikely that it would happen. Even with Jeff Ceasar taking over the helm, post Jason Kreis, the club has stuck rather rigorously to the 4-1-2-1-2 formation, which is just a slight modification to the diamond the organization has stuck with for years. No, even with the probability of having the money to make this move, I don't see it happening.
San Jose Earthquakes
The notoriously frugal Quakes are opening up a new stadium next season. Adding another US Mens National team player to their stable is a good PR move. There is also the fact that Jones lives on the West Coast (LA to be precise) and he could be more inclined to play near his new home in So Cal.
There is also the little business of San Jose being a last place western division team, 6 points from the 5th and final playoff spot. They need help, and with a game in hand on Chivas and three on Portland---the two teams that that sit just above them---a move could bring more momentum to this club at the right time. Add to it all the fact that San Jose is perhaps the most physical club in the league, and Jones oozes the persona to fit in with Victor Bernardez, Alan Gordon and the rest of the hard-nosed goonies.
Finally, DC United and Sporting Kansas City are as good spots as any. Both have DP room and potential money to spend. United parting ways with Christian Fernández and SKC transferring Oriol Rosell to Portugal both are signs of that. There is also the idea of going to play for a contender which obviously pulled him towards Turkey this past winter. Representing either one of these MLS clubs would give him the opportunity of not just playing in the playoffs but also representing MLS in the Champions League.
There is a case to be made for Chivas USA too. A club with some cash that is headed towards a(nother) rebranding and is in desperate need of any type of talent upgrade. The only real problem is their full up on DPs, and I'm not certain how they would go about fixing that issue. I would assume that Rosales is the most expendable, but I'm not sure about their wide midfield situation, which doesn't currently look good.
Overall the 'Jermaine Jones sweepstakes' could be one of the more interesting plot twists to this MLS season. It could impact the top of the table fight or even help propel a floundering team to one of the last playoff spots. It's something to watch unfold during the MLS transfer window that just so happens to open up today. That window will remain open until August 8th.