The Major League Soccer offseason has begun with a few player moves already, but it could get more interesting very quickly thanks to a $37 million investment in player compensation from the league.
The league announced the extra funds on Wednesday, which will go towards the league’s latest transaction catchphrase “Targeted Allocation Money” (TAM) along with some going towards homegrown players. From the league’s press release the money will come in the next two years with the goal of “providing clubs the opportunity to sign more impact players in the middle of the roster and add young Homegrown talent.”
The added money will come in the form of $800,000 in TAM and an extra $125,000 for homegrown players, both for each of the next two years. While the money can carry over from 2016 to 2017 if not used, it is use it or lose it by the end of 2017.
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The new TAM will allow teams to buy down designated player salaries that are between $457,500 and $1 million and allow those players to no longer occupy one of the three DP slots allowed to teams. The Chicago Fire used TAM to buy down Kennedy Igboananike midway through the 2015 season, which allowed the team to acquire Gilberto as a new designated player.
When TAM was first introduced before the 2015 season, teams were given $500,000 to use during the next five seasons. It was not a total to be reset each season, but rather one time use over the five-year period.
If all of that is too complicated to fully understand, in simpler terms it means more money is coming into the league and it will give the Fire more flexibility in the offseason. This also means the Fire will have the ability to add another designated player to the roster despite already having all three DP spots filled if they choose to buy down Igboananike again. This gives extra life to the persistent rumors of Mexican international Carlos Vela joining the MLS, and possibly the Fire.
Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.
OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet.
From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.
Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.
As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.
The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.
Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.
At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.
Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.