Connecticut Connections, Contracts and MLS SuperDraft

white

UConn's O'Brian White

By Ben Berger

Today is draft day in MLS (ESPN2 @ 2:00 p.m.), and the 2009 version has some Connecticut connections and some unique legal spin.  UCONN senior O’Brian White is one of the top forward prospects in the draft despite the strong likelihood that he will miss portions of the 2009 season with an ACL tear.  White was the 2007 Hermann Trophy (the soccer Heisman), and elected to play his senior year rather than enter the draft early.  A consensus top five pick last year, his injury could drop him at least a full round.

Graciano Brito of Quinnipiac is hailed as another top forward prospect.  The two-time Northeast Conference player of the year is also a two-time All-American.  Akeem Priestly made first team Atlantic Sun conference as a freshman before transferring to UCONN.  He also made Second Team All-Northeast and is a member of the Jamaican National Team.  Defender David Tyrie of Central Connecticut also has a chance to be drafted.  He was named to the all-region team three times.

Teams also have the option of drafting players from the Generation Adidas program.  Designed to promote an influx of young talent into the league, the Generation Adidas program allows highly rated underclassmen to forgo their remaining college eligibility to enter the draft.  The players selected for the program sign special contracts that grant them scholarship money to complete their educations if they wash out of the league. These players command higher salaries than the rest of the draftees, receive a three year contract and do not count against the salary cap. Read more about the program, and the 2009 class, click here and here

Because of the international talent pool available to MLS teams, the draft is not the only source of new talent.  Teams can lock up rights to foreign talent by filing discovery claims on potential prospects.  By filing these claims, teams get the first opportunity to sign the discovered players or trade their rights within the league.  These claims apply to the MLS only, and have no effect on the players ability to sign with other leagues.  In addition, some players (especially those with foreign passports), head to leagues outside MLS rather than report to camp with their MLS teams in February.  MLS rules allow teams to retain the rights to these players for a couple of years.  Teams frequently use late round picks on players who have announced their attention to go abroad in the hope that they will return to the US or change their mind.  This ploy can land first round talent with a fourth round pick.

We will update this article after the draft with a report on the Connecticut players. The draft can be tracked here.

Attorney Ben Berger, an avid  fan of soccer and MLS, is an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, in Hartford, Connecticut as well as Connecticut Sports Law’s resident soccer expert.  Ben can be reached at bberger@uks.com or 860-548-2636.

Comments

  1. forza azzuri says:

    White goes fourth to Toronto FC. Good for him and Toronto. A healthy White probably makes him the best forward in the draft. He returns to Canada which will also excite the Toronto crowd.

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