Union pass on Feilhaber because of high salary


Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 4:53 p.m.

By Ryan Bright
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

CHESTER, Pa. -- Dont expect the Union to ink a high-priced talent or designated player anytime soon.

On Tuesday, four days after U.S. Mens National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber left Aarhus GF of Denmarks Superliga to sign with Major League Soccer, it was released that Chivas USA passed on the allocation pickup because of his salary. Minutes later, the Union, who rank second on the allocation list, declined the option on the 26-year old attacking midfielder. He was scooped up by the New England Revolution immediately after.

I dont see myself having one or two high-profile players and asking others to take a pay cut because I cannot make it financially, said coach Peter Nowak on Wednesday. I have nothing against it, but there has to be a balance. Were not going to just because someone says its a big player.

Sleeping on the talented free agent surprised many, but according to Nowak, passing on Feilhaber, who was reportedly set to make near 400,000 per season, which would make him the highest paid Union player, was more about roster balance and money than anything else.

If I look at the big players and their salaries go against the cap, you have to ask yourself if its worth it, he said. Can I get one, two or three options that will cost me the same as one player? What am I going to do when the roster compliance comes next year? What is the future with that? Its not what you have on the cap this year, its about making it next year.

The allocation process works like a mix of free agency and a waiver wire. If a player from outside the MLS chooses to play for the league, he signs a deal that is structured by the MLS and is then available to each team in order from one to 18, with the seeds changing every season. This year, the Union earned the second spot in the order, but passed anyway for the same reason that the Chivas did.

Theres a couple of factors we had to take into consideration, said Nowak. First of all, we didnt negotiate to the deal, the league did. Second, as you know, it was at the end of the transfer window. And for many teams, not only us, it was difficult to adjust to that.

Its not just about Benny. If we look at the play and the financials are the same as Roger Torres, Keon Daniel and Brian Carroll combined, its very difficult to adjust to that. We dont have five million in salary cap that we can make such a decision. For us, going forward, we thought that this is the best decision possible.

One option on the table for the Union was to pick up Feilhaber and immediately trade him to a team in need. Nowak quickly shut that idea down on the grounds of respect for the process and the chance of getting stuck with his high salary.

We didnt want to pick him up and try to trade him because we have to show some decency, Nowak sad. If you dont need the player then let another team pick him and let them deal with the financials.

Although he passed on Feilhaber, Nowak was asked if he would ever consider signing a similar big name.

You think Benny Feilhaber is a big name? Really? He said, pointing to the equally successful names he believes the Union has in Carlos Valdes, Faryd Mondragon and Carlos Ruiz. I have nothing against Benny, we go way back. My point is, if I look at the big players and their salaries go against the cap, you have to ask yourself if its worth it.

Were looking at our books and looking at our future. And it was not time to do that.

E-mail Ryan Bright at ryanbright13@gmail.com

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