Why is MLS blocking Red Bulls’ Kanji bid?

From Ives:

The Red Bulls’ quest to sign Macoumba Kandji this season has ended, with Major League Soccer pulling the plug on the potential $200,000 transfer bid for the 23-year-old Senegalese striker.

According to sources with knowledge of the transfer discussions, the New York Red Bulls have ceased their quest to sign the Atlanta Silverbacks striker after Major League Soccer officials balked at allowing an MLS team pay a $200,000 transfer fee for a USL player.

Atlanta’s insistence on a $200,000 transfer fee, an extremely high figure for a USL player but one Atlanta felt was fair value for such a young and talented forward, was the sticking point that MLS couldn’t get beyond. This despite the fact that the Red Bulls were willing to pay Atlanta’s asking price.


What’s my take? I think it’s a pretty sad statement that MLS would block the Red Bulls from making a $200,000 transfer purchase just a few months after the league profited greatly from selling Red Bulls star Jozy Altidore for a reported $10 million. Something needs to change in the way the league does things because it’s a bit absurd for a small office of a handful of officials to be responsible for what 14 professional teams do.

And thus we see one of the serious emergent weaknesses of the single-entity system. As these new owners fork over $50M for an expansion franchise, they also want to ensure that their teams are as competitive as possible. That makes sense. That’s America.

That’s not MLS. There is still clearly a constituency in this league that believes it’s 1997 and that any single ambitious owner could kill the league. One of my biggest questions I have about MLS, is where do these decisions come from, not just in terms of the MLS org chart, but from the owners. Who out there does not want a team like NYRB to get better by using money that it earned by selling its own players? Is it Gazidis? Is it a perceived-as-cheap owner like Kraft or Hunt? Could it be from a rival organization like DC United? Who is the constituency that provides the MLS FO the backing it needs to pull stunts like this one and the Pat Noonan situation and all the others we all know about?

This being MLS, I’ll probably never know.


2 thoughts on “Why is MLS blocking Red Bulls’ Kanji bid?

  1. As more owners buy into the league, I hope some of these “single entity” decisions will begin to disappear. I understand the fear of having a team over-extend its reach, but in this case, we’re talking about pennies, especially when you consider how much Red Bull loses every day by renting Giants Stadium.

    Consequently, Ives is now reporting that Red Bull denies the league voided their purchase. While it’s most likely someone being told to keep their mouth shut, it’s still interesting that, if it’s true that the League squashed the deal, Red Bull New York would actually agree to deny it. What do they have too lose? And what punishment is there if they don’t deny it?

    Very interesting.

  2. This really seems like a double standard. If Kandji was playing in, say, the Swiss league, this wouldn’t be an issue. But because he’s playing in the USL, somehow that makes the transfer fee too high?

    It’s true that MLS made a lot of money from the Red Bulls selling Altidore overseas, but NY made a lot of money from that deal too, and it’s sad that MLS is not allowing them to use it how they see fit.

    It’s not often that I complain about stuff that negatively impacts the Red Bulls, but hey, I’m all about fairness.

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