FIRE WAIVE BUSCH – GUARANTEED CONTRACT FALLOUT?

FIRE WAIVE BUSCH – GUARANTEED CONTRACT FALLOUT?

‘Be careful what you wish for…’ This might be the sentiment many Major League Soccer players have swirling around their heads this week as the implications of the new CBA are hurried into place before the start of the 2010 season.

Guaranteed Contracts were an issue for the players in the CBA negotiations but now it is the League and the teams who have to make that practice work by meeting the roster compliance deadline of Wednesday at 5pm ET.

The biggest and in some ways most surprising casualty so far has been Chicago Fire dropping Goalkeeper Jon Busch.  Busch was a regular starter and reliable leader for the Fire and was an essential element in their run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009. It is possible that he could not fit in to new manager Carlos de los Cabos’ system, but a more likely scenario is that the Fire were looking to make a signing at the ‘keeper position sometime this season and didn’t want to be saddled with his guaranteed salary for the entire season.

Most teams have to make tough choices to get in under the cap, but more often than not there is some warning, as in the case with Kevin Hartman.  It is clear on SOME level that a team is going to move in a different direction.  That is what makes the Busch issue so distressing.

The CBA negotiations put many front office decisions on hold, but just days before the start of the season the Fire are about to leave the goal mouth protected by a kid with one MLS start in Andrew Dykstra and a rookie backup besides.  This does not have the ring of a long-term strategy.  Busch played many minutes in the pre-season and, according to Soccer Insider, he was shocked at his dismissal.  Makes you wonder why Chicago didn’t hang on to Dominic Cervi last season if they felt Busch was not the answer and I certainly do not believe the Jerzy Dudek rumors.

Busch is not the only example, as D.C. United has waived John DiRaimondo and the San Jose Earthquakes dropped Simon Elliott. All these players are proven MLS talent.  Both Elliott and Busch are great locker room leaders and great people besides.

The more important question: Is this going to be a trend? Are MLS teams going to start dumping mid-level salaries and experienced players? Will there be a ‘middle-class’ player vacuum in Major League Soccer?

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