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Why transparency matters for MLS

Are you as tired of not knowing how much allocation money we got in a trade as we are?

Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

"Per club and league policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed."

What a frustrating sentence.

As I'm sure all of you are aware, yesterday the Union announced two major roster moves. The first was trading General and Targeted Allocation Money for former D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius. The second was trading Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger for the sixth Pick in the MLS SuperDraft and General and Targeted Allocation money.

As fans of the Union, we're all asking ourselves the same question: "Were these deals good for the team?"

The answer, of course, is "No one has a clue." Well, no one outside of the front offices of the teams involved, anyway. MLS refuses to disclose the amount of allocation money that is exchanged in any player transaction. The primary resource that we exchanged in both of these deals is allocation money, and we aren't allowed to know how much. The quantity is crucial in the evaluation of these moves. Without knowing how much allocation money changed hands, it's impossible to say whether or not these deals are good or bad for the team. Any analysis is going to be based on guesswork and rumor, which isn't worth very much.

Why is the league so guarded with its secrets? Great question. The official reason is that teams don't disclose the amounts of allocation money exchanged because they don't want it to affect contract negotiations. Basically, they don't want the players to know how much money they have, so they can't ask for salaries based on those numbers.
I understand that it is in the league's best interest to keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to contract negotiations, but at some point they need to recognize that it is also in their best interest to be more transparent with their fans. The lack of transparency, particularly surrounding player trades and rules like allocation money, is immensely frustrating to fans who are used to following sports where the teams disclose all the aspects of a trade, the size of the contracts, and even the amount of guaranteed money involved.

If MLS wants to be taken seriously among the heavy hitters of the American sports landscape, it's going to have to start emulating them. These behind-closed-doors deals make the league look like it's trying to hide something. Moreover, it shows that MLS is more concerned with squeezing more out of player contracts than it is with being transparent to its fans, which indicates a lack of respect for both.

Don Garber has said time and time again that he wants MLS to be one of the top soccer leagues in the world. I don't see how that will be possible with all of these overly complex rules and a complete lack of transparency about them. Will Americans who are new to the sport be willing to deal with the ambiguity? Or will they turn back to something more familiar, a sport where they know the rules and understand the trades. Will international viewers respect a league that doesn't operate with the same transparency as every other top league in the world?

If Garber really wants MLS to be be a top-tier league, then he needs to start acting like it.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting really tired of not knowing what is going on with my favorite team.