Grant Wahl has the latest on Jermaine Jones's club future, the USA's FIFA election vote, Nigel De Jong's contract and Alex Morgan's vision for Orlando.
Jermaine Jones is a starter for the U.S. national team, but as of now he doesn’t have a club and the MLS season starts on March 6. New England does retain Jones’s MLS rights, but Jones turned down a Revs offer that would have made him around $600,000 guaranteed this season.
Jones told me he’s willing to make concessions on the money front if he can join a team closer to his home in L.A., but he feels like the league isn’t treating him with respect after he was willing to be part of the infamous Blind Draw two years ago.
A league source said the two sides are far apart on money and that it’s up to Jones to be more realistic in his demands. If that happens and the league can find a team in the West willing to pay Jones that much, they’d push for New England to make a deal. With the roster compliance deadline next week, look for the sides to try and reach an agreement in the next seven days.
Jones, who must serve a six-game suspension for his playoff altercation with referee Mark Geiger, says he won’t play for New England at this point.
Here are a few more insider items from around the soccer world:
U.S. unlikely to publicly endorse FIFA candidate
The FIFA presidential election is Friday, and I’m now told that despite rumors U.S. Soccer might announce its endorsement in conjunction with Canada, U.S. Soccer does not plan on endorsing a candidate publicly ahead of the election. Based on my reporting, the most likely scenario is that the U.S. votes for Prince Ali of Jordan in the first round but switches to co-favorite Gianni Infantino in the second round and beyond.
The other co-favorite, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, is clearly the candidate the U.S. does not want to win.
Also, a FIFA source says it’s extremely unlikely that the eight-year suspensions of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will be rescinded by FIFA’s ethics committee on appeal this week.
Morgan expects big Orlando crowds
Alex Morgan is expecting big things from the fans of the expansion Orlando Pride when it makes its NWSL debut at the Citrus Bowl this season.
“I’m expecting to average at least 15,000 [fans a game],” Morgan told SI.com in a wide-ranging interview. The Orlando City MLS team averaged 32,847 last year, and Morgan says the soccer community that is developing in Orlando has been terrific.
“When I moved there … I got recognized more than in any other city I’ve been to, more than in Kansas City or Houston or Portland,” Morgan said. “In that regard it was a wakeup call for me. This is a great soccer city that’s asking to be able to express themselves. I think it’s going to be a really successful season with the fans.”
Fine print on De Jong's Galaxy deal
The LA Galaxy got a sweetheart deal on Nigel de Jong this year and is only paying him $500,000 in 2016. But I’m told that De Jong has a big incentive to perform well. According to his contract with the Galaxy, if De Jong plays in 23 games this season he’ll earn a guaranteed Designated Player contract of around $3 million a year for 2017 and ’18.
The Galaxy know this is Steven Gerrard’s last year with the team, so the club has a Designated Player slot available for next year that De Jong would fill.