USA star Jones' MLS deal hits snag

The league cannot guarantee the midfielder will join Chigaco Fire, his team of choice, meaning no contract has yet been signed

By Ives Galarcep

A deal to bring Jermaine Jones to Major League Soccer has hit a snag after the league’s unwillingness to ensure which club he would join.

USA midfielder Jermaine Jones has reached an agreement on financial terms on a contract with the MLS, who has been with Turkish giants Besiktas since January.

However, sources have confirmed to Goal that, while Jones has agreed to a contract structure to join Chicago Fire, no deal has yet been signed as the league cannot guarantee he will move to the club.

New England Revolution and Chicago Fire are both interested in Jones’ services, with the 32-year-old preferring a switch to Frank Yallop’s side. Jones would be willing to join the Revolution, but only for a larger salary figure – something sources say the MLS is unwilling to arrange.

League officials could not be reached for comment.

Jones rejected a two-and-a-half year, $6 million (€4.5m) contract offer to join the Fire earlier this month, but negotiations with MLS continued, which opened the door for the Revolution to enter discussions to sign the World Cup standout.

Jones, who originally had desires to play in or nearer to Los Angeles to be closer to his family, has chosen to accept the most recent MLS contract offer to play for the Fire, but the MLS is not willing to guarantee that Jones would be sent to the club upon signing a deal.

That stance is a puzzling one considering how the acquisitions of U.S. national team starters and ‘designated players’ have been treated in the past. U.S. regulars have traditionally signed with the MLS knowing which team they were set to play for. The same has applied to all of the designated players previously signed by the MLS.

Why the league is handling Jones differently remains a mystery but, as things stand, he may be forced to seek options in Europe if no agreement is reached before the league’s roster-freeze deadline of September 15.

Time is of the essence for both teams chasing Jones. Both the Fire and the Revolution are currently chasing play-off spots in the East, with the Revs just one point behind fifth-place New York Red Bulls for the final position, while the Fire sit three points back.