The level of intrigue and speculation surrounding the futures of Matt Besler and DeAndre Yedlin befits their contributions at the recently concluded World Cup. Both players enhanced their reputations on the global stage. The corresponding interest in their services reflects a job well done and underscores the impact of a positive tournament on the summer transfer window.
Those common bonds diverge right around the point where both players start to consider their futures. Besler and Yedlin may both have Europe as an option now, but their situations — including their objectives for the future and their roles for their clubs — require different perspectives.
Yedlin is in the midst of his ascent. His growth over the past 18 months transformed him into a promising prospect for the U.S. youth sides to an influential substitute at the World Cup. His focus now remains firmly fixed on accelerating his development and rounding out his promising blend of skills in the coming years.
MLS offers him a chance for regular first-team action, but it may not meet all of his demands to foster his potential. His performances at the World Cup attracted and confirmed the interest of prominent European clubs. He isn’t in line to start regularly at A.S. Roma, Inter Milan or Napoli quite yet, but the decision to move overseas and perhaps start his career with a loan move elsewhere allows him a chance to hop on the ladder and further his objectives with a significant increase in salary.
Besler wants to challenge himself, too, but he isn’t in the frame for a move to a prominent side. His calm, steady performances in defense piqued the interest of a variety of suitors further down the table. Those potential offers might include a pay rise and sterner competition from week to week, but they also present a more nuanced case regarding whether to stay or go.
The prospect of leaving Sporting Kansas City for a midtable club in a top European league isn’t an open and shut case for an established player like Besler. Sporting offers a better path to winning titles and a reliable place in the side. There is genuine merit to staying the course at a settled club. The additional ties — Besler is a one-club man playing in his hometown — only bond the parties together even more, but Sporting must still meet the necessary contractual standards — a lengthy, fully guaranteed deal at a suitable salary level — to keep its captain on board.
It explains why Besler is perhaps a shade more likely than not to stay with Sporting and why Yedlin is likely to head overseas. Their disparate situations require different approaches. MLS has reached the point where pursuing overseas moves or returning to the league is a case-specific matter.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution anymore. The involved clubs must contemplate the benefits (Seattle will receive a larger portion of Yedlin’s transfer fee due to his Homegrown status, for instance), the costs (Sporting Kansas City might suffer irreparable damage to its MLS Cup hopes if Besler departs), the expenditures (it is easy enough to pay Besler something approaching his market worth within the MLS salary ecosystem, but it is nearly impossible to do the same with Yedlin) and the subsequent effects (how would a Besler deal impact Graham Zusi, for instance?) within their own contexts. The players must weigh their own needs before deciding whether to make the leap or stick with MLS over the long-term.
The increasingly complex dynamic creates additional layers for all parties to ponder before rendering a decision. The plethora of factors ensures the debate will continue until these sagas reach their inevitable conclusions in the near future.
Five Points – Week 20
1. Sporting Kansas City receives boost with inevitable reprieve: Aurélien Collin is available to feature against LA Galaxy on Saturday after an independent review panel rescinded his dismissal in the 2-1 victory at Columbus on Wednesday. Besler and Collin will need to keep the back four tight against an in-form Galaxy side capable of creating problems between the lines.
2. Several desperate sides face arduous tasks to pull out of slides: Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes sliced through New England on Wednesday night to hand the Revs a sixth defeat on the trot. The task won’t get much easier with a trip to FC Dallas on tap for Saturday. Columbus (v. Montréal), Houston (v. Toronto FC) and San Jose (at New York) all enter the weekend in need of points to further their own bids to snap their recent poor runs.
3. Red Bulls must focus on defense first and foremost: New York coach Mike Petke suggested he alter his back four ahead of the Earthquakes’ visit on Saturday. It might prove the perfect time to inject a little experience into the rearguard and permit the likes of Chris Duvall, Matt Miazga and Ambroise Oyongo to reflect on the strides they have made over the past month or so.
4. Vancouver travels to Real Salt Lake in need of points: The creditable point at BMO Field in midweek helped the Whitecaps’ cause, but the state of play in the Western Conference requires a succession of results to emerge from the mire. Vancouver staged a late revival act to snatch a point at Rio Tinto Stadium in April, but the visitors must figure out a way to disrupt the home side on the ball and then prompt opportunities to play over the top in order to replicate the feat this time around.
5. Chivas USA, D.C. United aim to sustain their challenges: The key to this game involves tempo. Neither side likes to open up and play end to end, but the focus for both teams does involve a change of pace at the right time. United may hold the inside track to the points at RFK Stadium, but it will need Eddie Johnson to use his pace over the top to help provide it.