For the last couple of weeks, the New England Revolution have been pursuing United States international midfielder Jermaine Jones. The defensive midfielder was arguably the best outfield player for the Americans at the World Cup last month and would've filled a great need at that role for the Revs.
But according to Chicago blogger Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf), Jones was didn't share a mutual interest not exactly mutual, and it seems that the Revs may be on the wrong end of a negotiating tactic from Jones agents.
Jones camp partially to blame for current issue. Involved NE to drive price up although the player didn't want to play there. MLS HQ mess.— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) August 21, 2014
With both clubs interested and now at the table, MLS had to decide on allocation and have waffled on process due to pressure from both.— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) August 21, 2014
NE still wants to up the ante after Jones camp agreed to join Chicago. MLS buckling to Kraft is keeping the deal from being completed.— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) August 21, 2014
Problem is at this point, Jones isn't interested in New England even though his camp opened the door. Garber will need to make the call....— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) August 21, 2014
And somehow explain that he went to Chicago because (enter description here).— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) August 21, 2014
Let's summarize these quotes real quick. Jones' agents appear to have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, because involving a second MLS team forced the league to enter negotiations with the player, rather than the Fire. This appears to be the fatal mistake, because Jones doesn't have any interest in playing in New England, which makes complete sense because he has family ties to the Chicago area and the Fire also have a need at midfield.
But it now appears that the Revs are holding up the deal because their offer doesn't guarantee Jones can be allocated with the Fire, and again, this is twitter, we all know how fickle this information can be (see the Nigel Reo-Coker to Revs from yesterday). But at face value, and from other stories like Ives Galarcep from Goal.com, Jones wants to play for Chicago and MLS can't guarantee that he will be allocated to the Fire because of the interest from New England. Therefore Jones didn't sign the offer from MLS, and the deal is stalled.
And that means that the best solution for everyone would be for the Revs to withdrawn their offer and allow the deal to go through. Jermaine Jones signing with MLS is a big deal, and the league is better with him, and probably playing for his American hometown in Chicago, than it is without him. MLS' single-entity structure prevents two teams from getting into a bidding war for a player, which is good, but it's also the reason that this deal is stalled.
That is the double-edged sword of single-entity. In an open market, Jones' agents would be able to involve other teams in order to get a better deal. But in MLS, that backfires because involving the Revs actually took the negotiations out of the Fire's control. Bob Kraft arguably wants to pay more for the services of Jones, which in an open market might actually work. But in this case, the Revs deal is getting in the way of Jones signing with the Chicago Fire. And now, Jones, Chicago and MLS are stuck in a pickle that only the Revs can solve.
Which is exactly what the Revs should do. Because it's the right thing to do to get Jones to sign with MLS. Yes, the Revs need Jermaine Jones, but at the end of the day, despite the fact that MLS wants to limit player controlled movement, Jones has all the power here. And it's likely that he's not signing until he's guaranteed to go to the Fire, and the best way to do that is for the Revs to pull out.
Obviously, it's disappointing that the Revs are going to miss out a player like Jones. He would've been a force in the Revolution midfielder, perhaps that extra bite the midfield so desperately needs at times. Jones would've taken some of the defensive workload away from Lee Nguyen, allowing him to stay higher up the field. All of these things are wonderful for the Revolution. But if Jones doesn't want to play in New England, then for the sake of the league, they need to end their pursuit of Jones.
This will be a tough pill for the Revs to swallow, fans and front office alike. There will be disappointment and angry posts on social media but this is a battle that the Revs can't win. And there's no point in continuing trying to sign a player that doesn't want to be here. Putting up a bigger offer probably won't change Jones' mind at this point, so instead of dragging it out and looking like jerks by drawing out a process they probably won't win, I'd rather see the Revs get out of the way. Jokes aside about the front office and the Krafts trying their best, but they did. They showed, perhaps for the first time, a legitimate interest in a big time Designated Player and did everything they could to sign Jones. But it didn't work out.
This is no way a failure on the Revs part in anyway. Their interest in Jones was genuine and legitimate and it's a shame that it wasn't a mutual feeling from Jones' camp. The Krafts authorized spending big money on Jones and Brian Bilello and the Revs front office I'm sure worked as hard as possible to get the deal done. But now, they have to take all that hard work and essentially forget it ever happened, as is often the case in operating a sports team. Now the Revs are stuck with a losing hand at the poker table, and raising isn't going to help. It's time to fold.
The Revs need to end their pursuit of Jones because that's what's best for the league and most importantly the player. Hopefully, this can happen as quietly as possible, by simply withdrawing their offer and then allowing MLS and Jones to complete their signing with the Fire. No holding out for allocation money, or a draft pick from Chicago but I wouldn't mind seeing Jones' agent donate his share to charity since he started this mess in the first place.
The Revolution gave it their all in pursuit of Jones. But the game is up. Mr. Kraft, thank you for doing all that you could to improve this team with a player of Jermaine Jones' caliber in the last few weeks and thank your staff for all their hard work. But it's time to find another big name target to go after.
Because Jermaine Jones is needs to sign with MLS, and with the Chicago Fire. And the Revs are holding up the show.