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TFC or MLS? It doesn’t matter who killed the Mellberg deal

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Yes, surrouding ESPN’s halftime show, an MLS All-Star Game in Chester, PA. was played.

But, for a heck of a lot of MLS followers, the most interesting part of Wednesday evening came in the network’s halftime chat with league commissioner Don Garber. Garber was asked if MLS had indeed blocked TFC’s efforts to sign Swedish veteran and former Aston Villa centre back Olof Mellberg.

Garber’s answer was interesting. He said the deal wasn’t in the best interest of the league, but that MLS HQ did NOT block the deal. He said it was TFC’s decision not to go ahead with the contract offer.

Of course, Garber’s comments set off a nice virtual fireside chat between TFC fans on Twitter.

But, assuming that Mellberg was offered a DP deal by the Reds, here is the take — it doesn’t matter who nixed the deal. It had to be nixed. Period.

Right now, TFC has three Designated Players on its roster; Torsten Frings, Eric Hassli and the out-for-the-season Danny Koevermans. As well, TFC just dealt a DP, Julian de Guzman, to FC Dallas.

Now, with Koevermans on the DL, TFC would technically be allowed to carry a fourth DP. If a player is out for the season, his roster spot can be replaced (hence why you can swap a DP for another DP) but his salary isn’t wiped clean. The financial hit remains.

So, Koevermans’ cap hit of US$335,000 can’t be taken off the books.

Remember that TFC has a cap hit of $335K for Torsten Frings. Yes, you can argue that the recently acquired Eric Hassli is just a hit of $167,500, because he comes in at the halfway point of the season. But the outgoing Julian de Guzman, traded away to FC Dallas after spending half a season in Toronto, also saw TFC spend another $167,500 in cap space for 2012. Together, De Guzman and Hassli will make up a full DP cap hit of $335K.

So, Koevermans, $335K. Frings, $335K. De Guzman/Hassli, $335K. If Mellberg came in at the DP rate, that’s another $167,500.

And, frankly, in a salary-cap league, that’s bad business. Especially for a team that’s so far out of the playoff picture, that it would need a month’s worth of wins, while the fifth place in the team would need a month’s worth of consecutive losses — just to draw level in the standings.

As well, while TFC is technically within the rules to replace Koevermans’ DP slot, there certainly would have been screams from GMs around the league if a team was able to find a way to have four DPs at once (even with one being on the disabled list). There would definitely be talk about how TFC, even though technically within the rules, was violating the spirit of the salary cap and the DP regulations.

Nixing the deal was the right thing. Worrying about who made the call to kill the deal is like being watching kindergarten kids who each scream “he started it!” It’s beneath us, really, isn’t it?

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