Carson, CA – When the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer announced the signing of LA Galaxy II captain, and current USL goal leader, Jack McBean, they also announced that he was retaining his Homegrown Player status. The only problem was, he didn’t retain that status and he’s not a Homegrown Player.
When McBean was first signed by the LA Galaxy in 2011 he was signed to a Homegrown Player contract – a program that allows a player who’s played in an MLS team’s academy system for a certain period of time – and the player can be coming either directly from the team’s academy or from college – to sign his first professional contract with the MLS team. The goal of the program is to incentivize MLS teams to develop their own talent through their own academy. The program includes several rules:
All players must reside in a team’s “Home Territory” for at least one year prior to being added to the team’s Homegrown Player List.
There is no limit to the number of Homegrown Players a club may sign in a given year.
Players must be added to an MLS team’s Homegrown Player List prior to entering a four-year college, but can maintain their Homegrown Player status during college if registered before entering that institution.
Members of the U17, U20, and U23 U.S. National Teams cannot be added to an MLS team’s Homegrown Player List, but a player already on a Homegrown Player List can maintain that status if selected for a US National team at a later date.
Homegrown Player(s) on either the Supplemental Roster or the Reserve Roster may earn (including achievable bonuses) in aggregate each year up to $125,000 above the Reserve Minimum Salary ($51,500 in 2016) or the Senior Minimum Salary ($62,500 in 2016).
If teams abide by the rules to sign a Homegrown player, then they’re rewarded by getting a player whose salary is exempted from the teams Salary Cap. The obvious benefit to this is that if teams develop a real talent then they do not have to count that player’s salary against the salary cap up to a certain level. A Homegrown player can make $125,000 above their $62,500 senior minimum salary without having that money count against the salary cap.
In the case of Gyasi Zardes, a player who has retained his Homegrown Player Status since signing with the LA Galaxy in 2012, and who has a reported salary of $472,500 in 2016, there’s some complicated “MLS Math” that needs to be done. In addition, because Zardes was re-signed this year and because his salary is above the max, LA also have to worry about Targeted Allocation Money. But all of this should illustrate how valuable a Homegrown Player is:
Gyasi Zardes has a $472,500 salary
There is a Max Homegrown Player Salary of $187,500 ($62,500 + $125,000)
There is a Max Budget for a Single Non-DP Player of $457,500
$472,500 [Gyasi’s 2016 Salary] – $457,500 [Max budget for single non-DP player] = $15,000 [Amount of TAM LA Galaxy must use on Zardes]
$457,500 [Amount LAG owes against the cap] – $62,500 [Senior Minimum Salary] – $125,000 [Max Home Grown Compensation] = $270,000
Gyasi Zardes’ cap space hit is $270,000
Now, prior to Gyasi’s recent salary increase, there’s a very good chance that most of his salary was off the books. But the LA Galaxy still derive value from developing talents like Gyasi and paying them a fairly sizable chunk of money since most of it does not count against the cap.
BACK TO SPECIFICS
As noted above, Jack McBean was originally signed in 2011 at the age of 16. He played with the LA Galaxy and made several senior team appearances, with 2013 being his most productive season. But in 2015 the LA Galaxy decided to release Jack from his contract. This is important. The idea was that McBean would continue his development with the LA Galaxy’s USL side, LA Galaxy II. McBean was signed to that USL contract and played with ‘Los Dos’ in 2015, becoming the LA Galaxy II’s MVP. McBean continued with Los Dos for the first part of 2016 where he was named their captain.
So when Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy decided to sign Jack McBean again, just a few days ago, he would have to be signed to another Major League Soccer contract. Due to the fact that McBean was released from his original MLS contract in 2015, he lost his Homegrown player status. This was confirmed by Major League Soccer.
This means that Jack McBean’s salary will hit the LA Galaxy’s tightly controlled Salary Cap. This also means that if McBean succeeds and earns contract renewals and salary increases, those would also hit the team’s Salary Cap. It’s Currently expected that McBean will make the league minimum. However, if his development continues, salary increases are not out of the question. It all depends on his pay and his play.
While at the time it probably made sense to sign McBean to a USL contract so he could continue his development at LA Galaxy II, in retrospect it may have been a shortsighted decision. Other players kept their homegrown status by staying on an MLS contract but being loaned down to the second team: players such as Jose Villarreal, Bradford Jamieson IV, Raul Mendiola, and Oscar Sorto. Why couldn’t the LA Galaxy have done this with McBean? The answer probably rests on the fact that each team has only 28 roster spots allocated to it. However, from where we sit now, did the Galaxy really make the best use of Jack McBean’s Homegrown Player status?
Going forward there should be a lot of hope for what Jack McBean could bring to MLS. As Steven Gerrard said of him following this week’s game against the Colorado Rapids, “He’s a very honest striker and puts himself about.” And that’s where the focus should be. But as is the case with Gyasi Zardes, having a large chunk of his salary off the books might be the difference of keeping or trading what could be a great young talent.