As Baltimore Raven’s quarterback Joe Flacco lit up the 49ers defense in the first half of the Super Bowl this Sunday, broadcast announcer Phil Simms made a telling observation. “Flacco is sure to see the money after this game.” he quipped.
Well, I am paraphrasing, but you get the point.
Much like the country we live in, a free economic market system puts a price tag on the value of performance. In this instance, Flacco, who led the NFL with a 117.2 passer rating this season, further padded his value with an impressive MVP performance on the greatest stage in his profession. In turn, it would shock no one to see him command a higher salary by whatever means come next season.
Major League Soccer doesn’t quite fall under the same standard.
Many times in MLS, a flashy signing can overtake the value of reward. This is why embedded fans of the league celebrate when “their own” players that get recognized monetarily for their achievements (Dwayne de Rosario and Landon Donovan come to mind).
Some fall into a grey area. Take a look at the case of Kenny Cooper. A role model, philanthropist and beloved locker room figure, Cooper notched 18 goals in 2012 – second only to Chris Wondolowski’s league record tying 27. On paper, that alone would earn him a pay day, but in the world of MLS, there is more to one’s salary than just a stat sheet.
His notches came in bunches, earning him the monicker of a “streaky” player. He also benefited greatly from the work of his teammates (particularly Thierry Henry) who offered fantastic service for the big man to put away.
On stats alone, Cooper deserves a pay day, but is he worth the cap hit for any MLS team? The Red Bulls didn’t think so, and now they have the room to upgrade their roster as they please.
What do you think? Is Kenny Cooper Designated Player worthy? Have a vote and share your thoughts below.