Rumors are rife around American soccer that former Portuguese captain Luis Figo is coming to MLS to join his former Real Madrid teammate David Beckham in Los Angeles. However, there is the slight matter of the salary cap to consider. Beckham eats up 400k and Landon Donovan eats up about 900k per season. Small potatoes for sports, but a pretty sizeable chunk of LA's salary cap (About 2.5 million per team).
So to free up some space, yesterday the Galaxy dealt goalkeeper Joe Cannon (250k) to the expansion/Cleveland Browns-rebooted San Jose Earthquakes for cash. While this does free up some cap room to potentially sign Figo, I am really puzzled by this series of moves. There must be something in the water on Victoria Street or something LA Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas knows about that no one else knows about.
First of all, if the rumors are just rumors, then why deal away the one bright spot and one consistent performer during last year's Beckham Circus? Cannon is easily the best goalkeeper in the league, and any team wishing to improve has to start with improving the back line and then move forward. The Galaxy are going to have to improve by building a solid team throughout the midfield and backline, not by signing aging stars.
If Cannon's dealing IS to clear up cap space to potentially sign Figo, then two scenarios emerge, one in which Los Angeles convinces Figo to sign for WAAAAAAAAAAY less than he's probably worth on the market (6 figures or less). This would be a feat in itself, as there are several other leagues around the world (Mostly in Asia and the Middle East) who also offer retirees one last cash grab before packing it in.
Under the second scenario, they can pay Figo whatever they want, but to do that, they must acquire a second Designated Player slot from another team through a trade. That potentially puts Landon Donovan on the trade block. As much as I rag on the guy for mailing it in in big games and not pushing himself at the next level, he's still one of the best players in MLS, and has been the face of the Galaxy for the past 3 years. The only other scenario now that Cannon is gone would see LA depleted, shipping off either years worth of draft picks or their entire team and starting over with fresh faces.
Either way, it will be a team of nobodies plus Luis Figo's old (age 35) legs and David Beckham. LA could be decimated for years to come. As for this year, I'm trying really hard to see how LA is going to make the playoffs this season, but so far, it is looking doubtful.
This doesn't even make sense as a league conspiracy to stock the Galaxy and turn them into a superclub on the calibre of Real Madrid or Manchester United. Figo, despite his age, would still probably be the second-most-well-known player in MLS, after Beckham.
Last season, several teams where Beckham visited noticed a "Beckham Bounce" in attendance whenever the Galaxy played there. (ie: New York draws and average of 15k fans, but drew 50k for the 5-4 instant classic with the Galaxy last summer). Looking at the history of the Beckham Bounce, (and the smaller "Blanco Bounce" for whenever Chicago Fire visited an away stadium with their Mexican star Cuauhtemoc Blanco), wouldn't it make sense to put Figo on another team, to add a "Figo Bounce"? There are presently two markets in MLS with large Portuguese populations who have not used the DP rule yet, Toronto and New England. What gives?