Ramblings from an MLS/FC Dallas Supporter – Do we really need to add more age to the MLS?

Looking for some spark going into the second half of the season, FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman has made his second transfer move.  Opening up the transfer action, Dallas obtained the services of Chivas USA midfielder/forward Atiba Harris.  This deal saw Dallas give up their walking red card, Marcelo Saragosa, to Chivas after he had yet to find his form this season.  Dallas has now released 25 year old midfielder Michael Dello-Russo, who had started this season out of coach Hyndman’s plans.  This move was made to clear a roster spot for Hyndman’s newest signing, 30 year old Columbian international, Jair Benitez.

While this move could possibly sure up the left wing for a defense that has given up many goals at inopportune times this season, is it really a smart move to get older as we have no real shot this season?  I think not.  Now I have not seen Benitez play yet, but does it seem to anyone else like MLS is becoming the resting place of many 30+ players who would like to make a quick buck before they retire?  Benitez might be good, and could put in a few years for our side as well, but Dello-Russo, our hard working defenseman?  Hyndman has his supporters questioning him yet again, as Dello-Russo, who while not a starting back, gives full effort and solid play when given the chance on the pitch.  Fans liked Dello-Russo and would have rather seen 21 year old Blake Wagner take a leave instead, given that the first round Generation Adidas player has lost his first team spot and looked quite out of sorts at times during matches.

As we all know.  This was not a decision based on age, since Benitez is Dello-Russo’s senior by 5 years.  So what was it?  I see it this way.  Benitez is going to cost us more money, but based on his scouting he is a left back in the form of a player such as Frankie Hejduk, who is undersized but quick and likes to get forward, thus making the game more exciting for fans to watch.  Only problem I see with this is if he is getting forward, his touch is rumored to be weak, meaning more chances for turnovers that turn into counter attack opportunities for our opposition, and most likely more goals against.

Is this what we need with our weakend defense?  I think not yet again.  While dropping a defender to pick up another was an area we needed to fix, we need to realize our chances of the playoffs this season have gone by due to lack of performance.

So why spend more money on an aging player, who does not have a visa yet, and who will not be here for the long haul?  This time should be used, if Hyndman is planning for the future, to develop players such as Wagner and the young Anthony Wallace, by giving them gametime experience in the first team.  This would seem to be the logical plan for a club planning for the future, not getting older.  So while I liked Dello-Russo as many other fans, I can understand the need for his departure, but was not expecting another aging player to be the answer to the problem.

As players go in the MLS, I am all for bringing in talent from other countries, but if you are going to bring in 30+ players in the tail end of their careers, bring in quality players.  We have our Beckhams, Blancos, Schellotos, Angels, and Ljundbergs.  And many of these players came here because they still had a fire to play the game and prolong the time to hang up their boots.  Some did it for money as you or I would, but they all understood their position coming into the league.  Beckham seems to be the exception though, thinking he is bigger than the league, since he can still get a spot on a European side.  Granted Milan are not a young side by any stretch of the imagination.  The fact is though, he is one of these 30+ year old players, the highest paid at that, and yet he has not produced anything near the level of a Schelloto or Blanco during his 2 year stint with the Galaxy.  While he is more high profile than the other 30+ year old stars in the league, I think he could use a bit of a lesson from these other players by taking his praises as they come, and not expecting the world to bow at his feet anymore as if he were still one of the best players in the world.  He is past his prime in the sport and should realize as much.

These players from other countries who have seen the MLS as a way to make some money before retirement, or a place where they can extend their career beyond the years they would have played elsewhere, have come to the MLS as players who no longer expect to be treated as Gods.  Hopefully our league does not become one full of 30+ hasbeens, but of quality 30+ players from around the globe (both in play and attitude) and young players from the U.S. and other countries as well.  These are the things that will help the MLS by not turning it into your local 30+ mens league.

I have no problem with age in the MLS and hope Benitez does well for us here in Dallas, but I do not understand along with other fans, where Schellas Hyndman’s mind is in making this decision for a transfer.  The obvious thing to have been done would have been to develop our young talent that is already here and focus on the future of the team.  we have no real chance this year, even if something miraculous happens and we do make it to the playoffs.

So in my opinion, Hyndman has lost the plot again, by not only making our squad older, but by failing to develop our talent in preparation for the clubs future.  A decision like this makes me wonder, will Schellas last the rest of the season, or will he be cut loose after a season in which he has completely lost the plot?  That though, is for you to decide.

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