Look at the Philadelphia Union sneaking into the spotlight.
The MLS Draft took place today in Center City, but with a total of zero early round picks, the Union instead pulled off a huge trade, acquiring 27-year-old winger David Accam from the Chicago Fire for $1.2 million in allocation money.
I’ll explain “allocation money” in a minute.
Accam is a speedy attacker who put up a career-high 14 goals and 8 assists last year. He’s played three MLS seasons and was heading into the final year of his Chicago contract. I’d assume, hopefully, that the Union wouldn’t spend $1.2 mill on a guy who might not re-sign. Accam had recently been going back and forth with the Fire front office over his contract situation, which might have precipitated their decision to move him. He’s a designated player who made a $750,000 base salary last season.
He’s worth that salary because he can do stuff like this:
It sets up a pretty nice looking front for the Union, with Fafa Picault on one side, Accam on the other, and C.J. Sapong coming off a career year in the #9 position. Assuming the Union stick with the same 4-2-3-1 that they’ve been running for the entirety of Jim Curtin’s tenure, they’re a DP #10 away from having a high quality attack. Speed on the flanks allows both wingers to get behind defenders instead of watching another season of Sapong getting battered by two defenders at the same time (with no help from the ref).
Anyway, back to the allocation money thing. It’s basically just internal cash that can be used in a variety of personnel acquisition methods. You can trade for it and sign players with it. There’s a large chunk distributed by the league for signings, basically free monopoly money that each team gets from MLS headquarters as part of the single-entity structure.
This is how the Union signed Accam:
If you don’t use it, you lose it!
In layman’s terms, they cobbled together a bunch of different cash chunks that have nothing to do with chairman Jay Sugarman actually spending his own money on signings.
Dennis is always spot-on at boiling these things down:
So…again….no discretionary TAM. Sugarman did not open wallet yet. Might even have enough left to buy Accam’s salary down to non-DP level. Big risk though using 2019 GAM/TAM if he doesn’t re-sign.
— dennis neaves (@drneaves) January 19, 2018
Listen, on the surface, it’s a great signing. Accam is a proven attacker in this league and instantly makes the Union that much better. It’s an ambitious move for a club that usually has no ambition.
But that’s a LOT of money, and it’s just one piece of a larger puzzle. If Sugarman goes out and gives Earnie Stewart $1.5 million to spend on an elite #10 playmaker, then successfully extends Accam, now you’re really cooking.
This is a good start.
Now back to your regularly scheduled Philadelphia Eagles programming.