USL-Pro team Sacramento Republic FC announced today it had signed 5-year MLS veteran Justin Braun and young phenom Mawolo "Gabe" Gissie. One problem there, though; Gissie is a member of the Revolution academy.
Gissie started and played the full 90 in both of the u17/18's previous two league games in mid-December.
The release refers to Gissie as 18, even though his date of birth is listed as 11/23/1996 on the Development Academy site, and says, "he made his professional debut in 2012 on the Revolution Reserves," even though the MLS Reserve League is not strictly a professional competition and is NCAA compliant with regard to academy players.
In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, before anyone presses the Revs' organization for clarification, there are more questions than answers.
Was Gabe ever on the list of Revs' Homegrown player claims?
If not, why? If he was truly the talent he appeared from the outside, blazing through the u15/16 Development Academy League and a key starter (and regular goal-scorer) for the u17/18 team this season, how did the club let him slip away?
If he was on the HG claims list, how did Sac Republic sign him?
Assuming Gissie was on the HG list, the Revs could send him to play for the Rochester Rhinos in USL-Pro without having to sign him first, as part of that league's academy player initiative. Furthermore, the Revs could have simply signed him to a professional HG deal and loaned him to the Rhinos for the season.
As revealed in a recent interview Neil Morris conducted with former Houston Dynamo academy player Sebastien Ibeagha, HG claims prevent players from being draft-eligible or from signing with other teams in the league. While other soccer leagues aren't beholden to odd MLS rules, a team in its partner-league and a team like Sac Republic with public intentions of joining MLS would not want to poke the bear in this case. NASL teams, especially the NY Cosmos, would have no problem interfering with MLS tags and claims but it makes no sense that Sacramento would act in that manner.
Even though MLS teams can maintain HG claims on players while they are in college, the same would not apply to Sac Republic. Because Sacramento is not an affiliate of the Revs, it cannot sign him to a NCAA-compliant academy roster slot. Unless the rules surrounding Homegrown players change for the 2014 season, a HG contract has to be a player's first professional contract and Gissie just signed a professional contract with Sacramento.
Did the Revs simply decide Gabe Gissie wasn't ever going to break into the first team and let him go? Do you make that determination on a promising 17 year old?
The Revs have not signed any players on a GA deal this year, meaning there was still a GA style slot available to sign Gissie if the club wanted to sign him. This would allow the team flexibility with Gissie's salary and would keep him off the salary cap.
If the team didn't think he was ready this season, a year with the Rhinos in USL-Pro would better inform the decision to keep him or let him walk.