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Kassel on Terps' List, but.....

The University of Maryland officially unveiled its freshman recruiting class today, and among the eight players listed is New York Red Bulls' youth academy player Matt Kassel from Bridgewater, N.J.

It is an interesting situation, one that we may see repeated often in the coming years, as MLS teams start developing their own talent and look to sign youth players before they head to college and are made available to all clubs in the draft. Kassel has been with the Red Bulls at training camp, scored for New York's under-18 squad at the USSF Development Academy Winter Showcase in Frisco, Tex., yesterday and could end up being the first player in the club's youth system to be signed to a pro contract. At the moment, however, Terps Coach Sasho Cirovski said he expects him to play in College Park this fall.

"He has signed a letter of intent and, as far as I know, he will play for us this year," Cirovski told me today. "He's a talented kid and right now everyone in the college game is trying to wrap their heads around this new MLS rule -- how it works, the timing of it, what it means for these kids."

The letter of intent is only binding for NCAA purposes -- Kassel's college commitment is with Maryland -- so if Kassel wanted to turn pro tomorrow and sign with New York, he could do it. The Red Bulls hold his MLS rights for the time being.

Red Bulls Coach Juan Carlos Osorio told Dylan Butler on and "I think he has some very good things. He distributes the ball very well, he takes shots from long distance, but there's still room for improvement like everybody else. What were trying to do is prevent the temptation to bring him in very soon, sooner than when he should."

By Steve Goff  |  February 18, 2008; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  College Soccer  
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Next: DCU Roster Update


I know I'm not the only one who smiled at the thought of either team being screwed over by the kid.

Does RBNJ own his rights if he goes overseas before college?

Posted by: sitruc | February 18, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Sr. Goff, does DCU have a local TV broadcaster deal in place or in the works? I see on the schedule in the DCU site that the opener is slated for DK and!

Posted by: Soy United! | February 18, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Comcast SportsNet deal will be finalized very soon.

Posted by: Goff | February 18, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

A key rule of the Youth Development Initiative:

"Players must be added to an MLS team's Home Grown Player List prior to entering a four-year college, but can maintain their Home Grown Player status during college if registered before entering that institution"

What that means is a player like Kassel can go to Maryland and, if he dominates, can *THEN* turn pro.

If I were the Red Bull FO, I would counsel Kassel to go to Maryland and get more development, because frankly U of M is probably a more competitive environment than any week-to-week league he's played in so far, and getting regular PT at Maryland is better than fighting for minutes in the handful of Red Bull reserve matches.

Red Bull would get a peek at how he adjusts without having to pay him during that time, and then have a player that much more ready for first-team minutes a year from now.

Posted by: Stan | February 18, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Sir Goff,

Does Kassel lose any eligibility because of his affiliation with professional(strictly in a technical sense) program?

Posted by: La cabra | February 18, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Unless MLS puts in some sort of rule which allows a team to bypass the salary cap (ala Generation Adidas) with one or two of their home grown players at a time, the MLS teams which develop them won't really have a fair shot at keeping the good ones.

Posted by: Brian | February 18, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The MLS website link which Stan provided notes that players in the youth programs will not lose NCAA eligibility. There is no explanation, however.

Posted by: Good question | February 18, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

James Edward of SLC's Deseret News is reporting the Portuguese striker João Pinto is going to sign with Toronto. Hopefully this isn't the DP Goff was talking about last week!,5322,26,00.html

Posted by: Nic | February 18, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Judging strictly from past developments in the MLS... I would guess that the rule is that if a player is in any MLS team's youth program, then goes to college, and then decides to turn pro, his MLS rights are automatically transferred to the LA Galaxy.

Posted by: DCUMD | February 18, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Is this Pinto who plays in the Bundes Liga or am I confussed?

Posted by: td | February 18, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Is that a Hall & Oates reference? I'm ashamed.

Posted by: Dave Lifton | February 18, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"The MLS website link which Stan provided notes that players in the youth programs will not lose NCAA eligibility. There is no explanation, however."

I plumbed the NCAA rules to the best of my ability, and I believe the reasons they don't lose eligibility are these:

* They are not provided with room and board, except during travel to tournaments.

* They are not automatically considered part of the pro team's roster, and cannot be compelled to play for the pro team. (For instance, a home grown player can still go in the draft if he wants to do so and refuses to sign a contract with the hometown club.)

* The youth clubs are technically run as separate business entities on a not-for-profit bases and don't sell players.

I think if any of these circumstances were different, NCAA eligibility might be at stake.

For research, the closest thing to these decisions the NCAA has had to make is in regard to hockey, where there are some junior leagues considered to be professional and some that are not. The difference seems to be room and board and stipends.

Posted by: Stan | February 18, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse


The way you interpret the rule you first state would mean that all of the "home-grown" players coming out of youth academies and going into the college system can bypass the draft and go directly to their developing team.

So this wouldn't just apply to Kassel, but would apply, for example, to all 20-30 (or whatever the number is) players that DC is graduating from its academy this year.

I'm not sure that MLS intended that a team get first dibs on 30 of their former youth academy players per year from the college system. I was under the impression that MLS intended it the rule for top prospects to bypass college and go directly to the pros.

I think if you were correct in your interpretation, it wouldn't make sense for MLS teams to promote any of these players but rather to let them develop on someone else's dollar in the college system and then to only pluck players when their about to turn pro.

In any case, seems like Kassel's case may set the precedent here.

Posted by: Eugene | February 18, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Too bad colleges can't hold a player's "rights" so that if/when they went pro, the university could get some cash for having helped developed the player.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 18, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

In junior hockey, only the big three Canadian leauges (Ontario, Quebec and Western) are considered professional, i.e., playing there loses you amateur status and college elgibility. Plenty of college players come out of the big U.S. junior league, the USHL (based in the Midwest). Colleges often players from lower Canadian and US junior leagues. They are all considered as amateur.

Posted by: big spaniel | February 19, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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