Tue | Aug 4, 2020

J’cans get no respect from MLS - Former players believe locals aren’t treated fairly in US top league

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2020 | 12:15 AM
Blake
Blake

Several former Jamaican international and Major League Soccer (MLS) players believe that footballers from the island do not get the respect they deserve from clubs in North America’s top-flight professional league.

Tyrone Marshall, who played over 10 seasons in the MLS, argues that Jamaica’s recent international accomplishments and the impact the players have had mean more respect should be shown to them by the league’s administrators.

“I don’t think Jamaican players get the notoriety or respect we deserve (in MLS). We still have that stigma associated with Caribbean players that we are not as impactful in training or games consistently, which I beg to differ,” Marshall told The Gleaner.

“Jamaican players have a whole different element to the modern football. Leon Bailey, for example is an outstanding winger with pace, creativity and the ability to make the difference in one-on-one (situations), from free kicks and from different aspects, but his natural ability is speed and you can’t teach that. MLS can tap into the Jamaican market but for some reason, it hasn’t, they are bypassing us (Jamaicans) and looking to Central and South America,” Marshall complained.

Despite Jamaica reaching two finals and a semi-final in the last three Concacaf Gold Cup tournaments, Marshall noted that the number of players in the league, which has dropped to four, continue to get less. He also thinks local administrators need to do more to promote the talent in the island.

“The MLS is a very good platform, we need to do more to promote Jamaica (football). They (MLS) should be tuned to looking to the islands to find those gems. They are still there and deserve the opportunity,” said the Real Salt Lake assistant coach.

Meanwhile, former Toronto FC defender, Dicoy Williams, who played with the franchise for two seasons, noted that while Jamaicans are rated for their individual talents, they are not shown the same respect in terms of salaries and opportunities.

TALENT RESPECTED

“My experience is no (Jamaicans don’t get respect). As an international player it wasn’t easy. They (MLS) don’t respect us or pay us in a good manner. But football-wise they respect our talents. Some players coming from Europe are not half as talented as Jamaicans but they get more money and better treatment,” Williams commented.

“The agents have to do it (get good deals), Jamaican clubs will not go hard (negotiate) because most need the money. So most clubs won’t hold out because they want the money, so they take the first opportunity. The Americans know our players and clubs are broke and they take advantage. They respect the talent but give you no respect. So it’s better for clubs and players to look to Europe,” he continued.

Another former Reggae Boy, Damani Ralph, who now works as a player agent, thinks Jamaicans don’t command the same regard as their counterparts from Central and South America and encouraged them to consider European options when making their decisions.

“I don’t categorise it as respect. You go where you have market value and currently the (MLS) clubs seem to find more value in the South Americans. It is incumbent on Jamaican players to look at other options outside the US. MLS has always shown a lack of value for Jamaican talent. We do well but it even takes a while before we get respectable pay,” Ralph said

Andre Blake, Darren Mattocks, Oniel Fisher and Alvas Powell are the Jamaicans, who are currently contracted to MLS clubs. Two of these players earn over US$500,000 (J$70 million) per year in salary, with another taking home over US$200,000 (J$28 million) and the remaining player earning over US$70,000 (J$9.7 million) according to data from the MLS Players Association as at September 2019.

According to the document, MLS salaries range from US$56,250 (J$7.8 million) to US$6.5 million (J$905 million) per year.