FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two weeks ago, the league helped the Seattle Sounders sign Clint Dempsey to the richest contract (4 years/$32 million) for an American player in MLS history. But when it came to retaining a talented American, the league wasn’t as enthusiastic.
Following Wednesday’s training session, Revolution striker Juan Agudelo briefly outlined his contract situation prior to Stoke City signing him to a future deal that will commence on Jan. 1, 2014.
“I felt like the (Revolution front) office was cooperative on a new deal,” Agudelo said. “But the MLS wasn’t so (cooperative).”
Perhaps it was with good reason. Agudelo has never made his overseas ambitions a secret, and didn’t seem bothered that a deal wasn’t able to be worked out with the league. In fact, when asked whether there was a price that would’ve kept him Stateside, he succinctly replied, “Not really.”
And even though he’s still four months shy his 21st birthday, Agudelo feels like the chance to play in one of the best leagues in the world was something he couldn’t say no to.
“I mean, it’s the EPL so, yeah (I couldn’t turn it down),” Agudelo said with a laugh. “But that opportunity is better (in the sense) of not regretting not taking an opportunity like that.”
Meanwhile, Revolution coach Jay Heaps didn’t express any concerns about managing a player like Agudelo, who has a separate commitment to another club lined up. In discussing Agudelo’s remaining time in New England with the Stoke coaching staff, Heaps doesn’t believe his dynamic striker will be lacking any motivation for the final two months of the season.
“This is basically what (Stoke’s coaching staff is) looking at,” Heaps said. “This is his platform. To me, this is a great opportunity for him to really separate himself with Stoke adding strikers left and right. (These last two months will) let Juan stay in form and then when he joins them in January, he can get some real EPL action. I think it’s a great opportunity for him to hit his stride with us, and then go there fully fit.”
Although a sprained right knee forced him to miss his eighth straight game last week in Kansas City, Agudelo is optimistic about returning to the pitch for Saturday’s crucial conference showdown against Chicago.
“The knee’s good,” Agudelo said. “(It) feels great this week. It felt good last week. Maybe I’ll be upgraded this week, but we’ll see how the next two days of practice go.”