MLS's Brighter Galaxy
The Relatively Rich Get Richer
MLS's surprise signing of Carlos Hermosillo from Mexico's Cruz Azul club last week for a $1 million transfer fee was a coup for the three-year-old league, but by assigning him to the Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS drew renewed criticism that its brass favors big-market teams. Hermosillo, the Mexican national team's leading scorer, will enhance the attack of the Galaxy, which through Sunday had the league's best record (10-2) and its most explosive offense (3.0 goals per game).
Los Angeles's windfall doesn't sit well with some of its rivals. "Certain teams in this league will always receive preferential treatment," says Colorado Rapids coach Glenn Myernick. "For smaller markets this can become a competitive disadvantage."
Then again, MLS had little choice but to assign Hermosillo to the Galaxy. San Jose Clash general manager Peter Bridgwater says the league, which pursued Hermosillo for more than two years, had made a verbal commitment to assign him to the Clash, but last week Hermosillo, 33, told MLS he would only play in Los Angeles, where members of his wife's family live. "It isn't fair that he ends up in L.A.," says Bridgwater, "but it makes sound business sense for the league."
Deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati says MLS made an equitable decision. He points out that Los Angeles and San Jose were the only two teams eligible to add a foreign player and that the Clash received Mexican forward Francisco Uribe last week in place of Hermosillo. "We had some discussions about parity," Gulati says, "but we also looked at what Carlos brings to the league. In an ideal world, would he have gone to San Jose? Maybe, but there aren't two million Mexicans in San Jose."