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Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in MLS, Philadelphia Union, Recent | 13 comments

Welcome to MLS – Players Left To Fend For Themselves

Welcome to MLS – Players Left To Fend For Themselves

 

So what happens when a player is selected by an MLS team to play soccer? Not much apparently.

In an interview with sources close to several current and former players, it is revealed that there aren’t many services provided to these men whose jobs should be training and focusing on soccer, not apartment hunting in an unfamiliar place.

One rather legendary story states the reason Sebastien Le Toux and Kyle Nakazawa had an apartment in West Chester – about 25 minutes from their workplace – in 2010 is that no one told them anything about the area, and that they thought West Chester was the western part of Chester. Perhaps a check of a map would have cleared up confusion, but still it seems to me that helping players get to know the area they’re going to be working in and living in would be something a club would automatically do.

One player who has played in multiple cities noted that getting help moving from club to club was “very unusual” and that he received no help from clubs, even when moving across the country.

Another source says it’s worse for Latin players who come here. Not only do they not know the area, they also don’t know the customs or language here. When Carlos Valdes and Faryd Mondragon came to the team, a local fan helped them find an apartment to live in, and cars to drive. No one from the Union’s FO did that. For Lionard Pajoy, Josue Martinez, and Jorge Perlaza too. He then had Perlaza’s things moved to Colombia after he was released by the Union and he was picked up by Millionarios. He currently has Josue Martinez’ stuff and is sending it from Philadelphia to New York. He’s working logistics for these guys because the Union doesn’t do that. At the time of the interview, the source was leaving later that night to pick up Pajoy, his wife, and his family from Philadelphia International Airport and take him to DC for training. He’s also arranged to have Pajoy’s belongings sent down to DC later this month.

“These clubs… I mean I don’t know why they don’t help the players. They don’t guide them. They don’t have to help them step-by-step, but at least to give them some guidance in a new city. They (players) don’t speak the language so well.” When a new foreign player comes in he is working with the Union by starting a consulting agency so he can help the new player settle in the city. “Pajoy’s son – I found a school for him, I helped his wife get the shots for the kids. I mean stuff like that – all of the stuff like that you need to do when you arrive somewhere new.”

“I even had to do things like let them know that you have to get a chair (booster seat) for the kids because you can’t drive the car without the chair. Stuff like that. They have been really appreciative of that and I don’t charge them for it. I do this because this is who I am.” And it’s not just here in Philadelphia. Players in DC, New York, and Philadelphia are also utilizing his services because the teams don’t do these things.

It seems a shame that in a league that is striving to become one of the top leagues in the world that nothing is done for the players that work so hard to make that dream a reality. Players need someone to show them where the good neighborhoods are. Where the good schools are. They need someone to show them the ropes of these strange places and let them focus on their jobs.

This is by no means a local problem. Sources from all over the league report the same problems just about everywhere. Many times it is local fans who have stepped up and given the players the welcomes they deserve and should be part of any clubs process of helping players acclimate to new surroundings. We have heard many stories of fans moving players belongings from city to city, helping secure drivers licenses and the like. It seems to be more prevalent among Spanish speaking players but isn’t confined to them exclusively.

This raises the question: Are clubs responsible for helping players “bed in” off the field?

Let us know what you think about where a clubs responsibility to a player begins and ends.

13 Comments

  1. This is rather scary to think about. By the sounds of it, it is also a league wide issue. I’d also be willing to bet that the superstars that come over (i.e. the Beckham’s, Henry’s) got all the help they needed.

  2. You would thing that fellow players would step in and help. Isn’t that part of what the captain should do? I’ve heard many stories of veterans in other sports inviting rookies to stay at their homes. I hope Zach Pfeffer isn’t having similar problems in Germany.

    • I can guarantee you that Zach Pfeffer is not having similar problems in Germany. He is staying at a soccer academy run by Hoffenheim. Almost all of the clubs in Europe take care of the logistics of a move, so that the player is happy and can concentrate on playing well.

  3. The club should HIRE that fan! It would be a wonderful recruiting tool and create a better on- field player who can concentrate on his job. .25 per ticket and wow it’s paid for!

  4. soccernomics talks about this same subject at length and it creates an immense amount of dissatisfaction, causing multi-million dollar transfer fees being wasted due to the inability to easily transition a family to a new city and sometimes country.

  5. I never really thought about the issue for the Union. It’s interesting because following Manchester City, I know for a fact that they help all of their players find places to live. Zabaleta, Tevez, and Aguero for example live in close proximity to each other and some local South American restaurants so they can feel more at home. It’s really important because it helps the players settle in quicker and focus on what really matters which is on field performance. You’d think the teams would realize this and do all they can to get the players settled in as quickly as possible.

    • Sorry to hear you’re a City fan, my team plays same city, different address, BUT, I do agree. I believe most Premier League clubs act as do large multinational companies transferring people worldwide for jobs. The company we worked for did a lot for me on transfer from UK to Netherlands and then to US, and we spoke passable American. Can’t imagine being transferred and then not helped.

  6. While I would like to solely blame the FO, I feel as though the players and their teammates need to shoulder some of the responsibility to make sure they know what they are getting into. Don’t get me wrong though, the league needs to set a precedent that is better than what it is and where better to start it than in Chester. I would like to know the fans name so I can buy him a beer for being an exceptional citizen and so he can get a bit more publicity for his business.

  7. Me too! Who is this mystery fan???

  8. Nobody helped me find an apartment for my first job out of college. If the player is an adult, they should be able to fend for themselves. It’s called Google Maps, and it easily tells you that West Chester isn’t the west part of Chester.

    • I’m guessing your employer wasn’t paying you $100k/yr right out of college though. If you are an employer who wants to keep the talent they hired, then you do “small” things such to keep them happy. West Chester isn’t a bad spot to pick. Cole Hamels lives out there and his commute to work is worse.

  9. Think the league should make a initiative to set up a service in each city. Not to be controlled by the league but work with the teams. So a player comes in and can be guided to these folks for help. Could be called Player Transition Services. The question is how to pay for this.

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