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A Is for Appiah

Did D.C. United pass up an opportunity to negotiate with Ghana star Stephen Appiah?

First, Appiah's portfolio:

Position: Central midfielder.
Age: Turns 28 on Wednesday.
Nickname: Tornado.
Clubs: Hearts of Oak, Udinese, Parma, Brescia, Juventus, Fenerbahce.
National Team: Captain, about 50 caps, started four games at 2006 World Cup (penalty kick vs. USA), played in 2004 Olympics. Returned to the squad this fall after recovering from a damaged knee ligament, which sidelined him for months and forced him to miss the African Cup of Nations. He scored in an October qualifier.
Currently: Terminated his own deal with Fenerbahce after months of conflict centered around treatment for the knee injury and his contract situation. Has been linked to Premiership clubs. Now possibly on the way to AC Milan, though EU passport issues could undercut those efforts.

Okay, here's what I have been able to piece together: DCU was approached by an intermediary late last month about possibly negotiating with Appiah for a free transfer. His salary, of course, would not be free -- far from it.

Keep reading.....

I'm told Appiah would have considered playing in MLS for $2 million per season, a figure probably far less than his future earnings in Europe. Why come to MLS for less money? For a new career opportunity and the chance to live in America.

DCU managing partners Victor MacFarlane and Will Chang showed keen interest in him and were in direct contact with the intermediary.

To accommodate Appiah's designated player status, DCU would have had to reach a departure settlement with oft-injured Argentine Marcelo Gallardo -- whose $1.9 million contract in 2009 is guaranteed -- or find a suitor in Latin America (or perhaps both).

The club initiated plans to bring Appiah to Washington for meetings, but in the end, for reasons unclear, decided not to seriously pursue him.

In stepped FC Dallas, which is in the market for international help. FCD was also prepared to fly Appiah in and discuss a possible deal. How eager was Coach Schellas Hyndman to open talks? To the point where he was planning to fly to Europe. However, management determined the $2 million salary figure was more than it would be willing to spend on a designated player and the situation fizzled.

Los Angeles was also approached, but with the DP salaries of David Beckham and Landon Donovan on the books, Appiah's acquisition wasn't feasible. His opportunity to play in MLS fading, Appiah then found himself being pursued by Milan, which hopes to reach a deal with the Ghanaian in the coming weeks. If the passport issue is not resolved, MLS might be back in the picture, though at the moment, it appears this opportunity has passed.

DCU did not have any immediate comment on this report.

Watch the videos below, do some of your own research if you wish, and then tell me what you think of Appiah and whether DCU or another MLS club should have found a way to get him here.

By Steve Goff  |  December 21, 2008; 12:35 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
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Next: Americans Abroad


Appiah is a fantastic player.

$2 million is not that much for a player.

Heck, you telling me HSG can't afford $2 million, they own the Chiefs.

If DC passed, that's a major mistake, IMHO.

I think he is kind of like Schelotto, in that, he's the type of player that wins you games, but is not necessarily that well known outside his home country. (Though he is a work horse, not a show horse).

Posted by: TrueCrew | December 21, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Pfffff, why sign this guy when you can have Rod Dyachenko.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | December 21, 2008 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The guy can definitely play and score goals.

However, I think MLS needs players that are even "bigger" than this guy. Players who will bring attention from the rest of the world. This guy, even though is really talented, is not as well-known as others like Schelotto, Blanco, Angel or Ljungberg.

Those players are, in my opinion, the type of players MLS needs to pay big money (I mean, this guys is asking for more than Gallardo and I don't care what some fans say: If you know about soccer, if you have been around, you know Gallardo is a great player. Potentially the best player in the league).

Anyway, keep up the good work y arriba la MLS!


Posted by: MLSenEspanolnet | December 21, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Above all I find it interesting that everyone including the management are entertaining somehow getting rid of Gallardo.
If he gets "stuck" in DC is he going to have any motivation?

I'm all for getting DP's that aren't over 30. The sky is about to start falling out in the pacific northwest with Freddie getting hip surgery... Are we going to be stuck with an old man that would rather be out to pasture at River? I'm trying to stay positive but all this smacks of Marcelo being unhappy in DC.

Posted by: DadRyan | December 21, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Assuming that the above is accurate (and given Goffinho's track record, I am willing to take it on faith), then what I why to know is why "keen interest" devolved to deciding "not to seriously persue" a player of this calibur in what appears to be a relatively short period of time? Did they get more information on the knee injury (one of the links referred to the surgery as being "botched")? Were there concerns about about Fenerbahce's claims that they would be owed a transfer fee (despite Fifa and Fifpro's statements, it seems the Turks might have a case if they pushed it to the Court for Arbitration in Sport, a venue where Fifa has a decidedly poor track record)? Did Chang and McFarland refused to give him Freddie Adu's old locker, with it's Ghanain mojo? Say what you will, but he's relatively young, the heart of the Ghanain midfield (yes, Essian is the star, but Appiah gives the team it's steel) and interested in MLS despite numerous significant overtures from Europe. There has to be more to the story then we have seen so far. Enquiring minds want to know...

On a side note, great reporting Goffinho. I hadn't heard word one of this until your post tonight. Thanks for your hard work during your holiday "break."

Posted by: throwin | December 21, 2008 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Seeing new posts here during your break from this to concentrate on other things is great and all, but this off-season story didn't make me feel any better about the team.

Posted by: sitruc | December 21, 2008 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Anybody else still awake watching Pachuca-Gamba Osaka? Whatever happened to Gamba's Brazilian Frankenstein?

Posted by: Juan-John | December 21, 2008 4:13 AM | Report abuse

"The club initiated plans to bring Appiah to Washington for meetings, but in the end, for reasons unclear, decided not to seriously pursue him."
Could it have been that Gallardo didn't wanna kick a gift horse in the mouth and declined that "departure settlement?"

Posted by: Juan-John | December 21, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John: Bare left Gamba Osaka for some club in Qatar or UAE for $ 6 M transfer fee. If things don't work out with Gallardo, we should try for Manso from Liga de Quito. He is a very underrated player and he will definitely be playing in Europe soon. Chaco Gimenez is not too shaby either. :-)

Posted by: Charisma_Man | December 21, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

If you give me the option of Appiah or Gallardo, I'll take Appiah 12 times out of 10. I would take him over Veron, too. The biggest number for me is 28. He is still in his prime, even though it seems he's been around forever.

Posted by: wmsiii | December 21, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I never thought about how the Galaxy really have their hands tied, since they don't know if LD will come back.

Posted by: Reignking | December 21, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

what if we said maybe a little less money, but we promise to never subject your highlight reels to the awful music in the second video? I think he would give it serious thought.

Posted by: Pedalada | December 21, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I lived in Ghana back when he played for Hearts of Oak. Even with Ghana's depth of fast, strong, and skilled players, he stood out. Unless he fails a physical, DCU should move heaven and earth to get him.

It doesn't happen often in sports, but occasionally a star player is willing to play at a discount in order to be where he wants to be (think Brady in pointyball). Even though Americans are used to being criticized by everyone in the world, Ghana is one of the places where the USA is revered. No question in my mind that he wanted to come here in order to bring the whole family and live here himself forever. And yes, that's a good thing.

And by the way, I can't recommend highly enough that DCU go to west africa and recruit a bunch of no-names in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. You may not have heard of them, but there are dozens of players there more than ready for MLS just praying for their big break.

Posted by: troy6 | December 21, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather listen to GolTV music!

Posted by: Reignking | December 21, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

If AC Milan was interested, then MLS was never an option.

Posted by: cr10 | December 21, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

91 days to the first match

Posted by: Curious99 | December 21, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If all this turns out to be true then I don't know what to think about the ownership anymore? First the Poplar Point debacle, then the teams terrible showing this past season, and now this!

It has been obvious for some time now that Gallardo doesn't want to be here, this just confirms it. The money's simply too good for him to walk out so the guy figures he'll stick around for another season and cash in again. Why the ownership did not act in this situation is beyond me... I just hope it works out.

Posted by: pittmancb | December 21, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm..... this makes sense, given that Mcfarlene was interested in looking into African Talent this sesason more so than South American than last. I remember him stating that before.

Appiah would be an interesting Acquistion for DC or any Team in the MLS, and seeing how Marcelo wanted to go back to river... why not. I guess when that fell through because teh head coach of River didnt want him anymore, maybe thats what stopped this?

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | December 21, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap. What a completely stupid move by DC United management.

Posted by: lastort1 | December 21, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow appiah is a great player even though he has been injured. Smart and puts his heart into every game. I think this would be a missed opportunity.

Posted by: totalfootballer | December 21, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

My comment last night was eaten by the Post's blogging software.

Basically, I think players like Appiah (known by people who follow the game, in their prime, interested in living in the US) should be the targets for the 2nd generation of DPs. Signing guys like that takes away the charge that MLS is a retirement league, and serves as further validation internationally.

Appiah would be a great fit in DC, or anywhere within MLS. I've defended Gallardo, but at the same time, choosing between a top notch player in his prime over a guy near the end of his career that is easily injured isn't a difficult choice. I think DC can win things with Gallardo, but I think the odds get better with Appiah.

I'm not going to call DC's decision to let this go "completely stupid" because we don't know why they became uninterested. Perhaps they heard something about Appiah's knee not being worth the risk (after paying nearly $2 million for a DP that played half a season, I can see them being very cautious). Maybe Appiah had some unreasonable demands that haven't come out yet. Or, maybe this is a big fiasco. In any case, if there's nothing wrong with Appiah, someone in MLS needs to take the plunge. Getting a DP at this age with his pedigree is something MLS has never had a shot at before. Maybe this signing would lay the groundwork for similar future signings. His move to Milan is still up in the air, so I'd at least like to see someone take a serious shot.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 21, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope Garber reads your posts Mr. Rockwell. Or an intern is handing him collated report on Monday mornings...

Posted by: DadRyan | December 21, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I think dcu need an energetic player in the middle of the field like appiah. THe MLS doesnt need BIG name players with inflated contracts, i think they need players who can still do it at the top flight in europe, who decide to come to mls INStead. This way, they can still make a difference in the league, as they have gas left in the tank. Appiah would be a great example cause he can still do it in Europe, ex. milan trying to sign him as re-enforcements. Hes the type of player who can make the difference in a game with one pass.

Posted by: jayphu | December 21, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

We should be glad we are not getting this guy. Good player yes...but he's been linked to fixing matches.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | December 21, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The Gallardo move last year will go down as one of the stupidest in DC United history.

Hope DCU stops what their doing, cause they're about ruin the image and the style that I'm used to. Appiah's name is funny, but he should be making money see. And then the world would be ready for DC.

(sorry, it's snowing a lot up here)

let's go get Appiah!

Posted by: churtmah | December 21, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Last time I checked we have two DP spots.

With the waning Emilio also taking one. So why would we need to get rid of Gallardo?

Salary cap rules or something?

Posted by: SirToons | December 21, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Gallardo and Appiah are both central midfielders. Emilio is a striker. Plus, Gallardo makes about the same salary as Appiah, while Emilio earns considerably less.

Posted by: Steve Goff | December 21, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Appiah is every bit as well-known, or more so, than Angel and Schelotto. He's played (well) in a World Cup! He's played (well) for big clubs.

Would be nice to get him into MLS.

Posted by: LAStory | December 21, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Highly disheartening lost opportunity

Posted by: carmines757 | December 21, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The only reason not to move and heaven Earth to get Appiah would be is if his knee is going to be a real problem -- and, even then he's probably worth taking the risk. Signing him would, of course, be an enormous boon to United on the field -- think Roy Lassiter, but with world-class physical ability, great physical condition and truly sublime talent. He could dominate the MLS.

The biggest impact, however, might be in the stands. Adding an top African star, in his prime -- in this town? I don't know if there's enough parking at RFK for all those cabbies.... Bad ethnic humor aside, he would put a LOT of fannies in the stands, and add lots more color to the already dynamic party around the Barra. Unlike Gallardo, signing Appiah, even for twice the money, makes economic sense.

Right now, I'd say that United should re-engage as swiftly as possible. If he does wind up in Milan for a few months, or even for a year or two, DC should definitely hold on to his agent's phone #. If he's just signing a short-term deal, United may find it easier to move Gallardo back to River, if DC has already paid half his salary. If he's signing for a year or even three, the fact that he is interested in coming here should put his agent's name at the front of KP's Rolodex.

The Nats are still looking at Texeira, no -- sort of the great white wale they're trying to catch? Appiah could be DCU's great white whale. The thing about the great white whale is you have to catch him or the quest will do you in.

Posted by: fischy | December 21, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 21, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Fischy's got a point about Appiah helping attendance. There are a lot of Ghananians living in this area, particularly in Prince Georges County and around Silver Spring.

Posted by: billindmd | December 21, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Why are people attacking the front office on this?

We aren't in a position to tie up $4million for two players.

We couldn't find any takers for Gallardo.

How is United's "failure" to sign Appiah a sign of any shortcoming by the Front Office?

Posted by: alecw81 | December 21, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Good player yes...but he's been linked to fixing matches.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | December 21, 2008 3:39 PM

No wonder Milan is interested in him...

Posted by: edgeonyou | December 21, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse


We don't know why the Appiah talks did not materialize. All we know is that they were presented an opportunity to talk to Appiah and apparently did not pursue it.

It never reached the point where they had him in their grasp and couldn't close the deal because of Gallardo's contract. Some of you are getting way ahead of things. If they wanted Gallardo gone, it wouldn't be difficult to reach a settlement and cut him loose, which would allow him to return to a club in Argentina.

As I noted earlier, DCU would not add a high-profile central midfielder who makes just as much money as Gallardo and retain the Argentine as well. They play the same position, they would have the same salary. One or the other, not both.

Posted by: Steve Goff | December 21, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Good player yes...but he's been linked to fixing matches.

Posted by: LostinPotomac | December 21, 2008 3:39 PM

No wonder Milan is interested in him...

Posted by: edgeonyou | December 21, 2008 10:35 PM


Posted by: DadRyan | December 21, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

SG -- Not sure who you're responding to -- I think almost everyone here does understand. I was just saying how much more sense it would make to have Appiah rather than Gallardo. That said, you gave the carnivores here more than a bone, in suggesting that DCU chose not to seriously pursue Appiah. I presume nothing -- it may be they changed their mind because of finances. Maybe they lost money with Madoff. Who knows? I'm just saying if there's a chance, DCU should treat this the way the Nats are going after Texeira. You can't make the guy sign if there's someplace he'd rather be right now, but they should give it their best shot.

Posted by: fischy | December 22, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Rumor has it that "the unclear reasons the club didn't seriously pursue Appiah" is that Tommy Soehn and Dave Kasper didn't rate him as a player and said they couldn't use him. MacFarlane and Chang were ready to spend the money to get Appiah.

Posted by: Grande | December 22, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

If the rumor has any truth to it, then either Carlo Ancelotti or Tommy Soehn leaves something to be desired as a judge of talent. One of them has won a league championship and two national cup tourneys, along with two Champions' League titles and one Club World Cup. I'm pretty sure it was not Soehn. Unless they've got a line on Essien, we're talking about one of the top African midfielders. A darn sight better than everyone in MLS, with the possible exception of Beckham and Donovan. No use for him? That's ridiculous...

Posted by: fischy | December 22, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

Okay, Fischy, if Appiah is so great, then why has he played for six clubs by the age of 28?

Posted by: billindmd | December 22, 2008 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Some of you are getting way ahead of things.

Posted by: Steve Goff | December 21, 2008 10:43 PM

Well Steve, you have no one to blame but yourself for giving us (1) some information and (2) the forum in which to speculate and conjecture and then to become indignant over the fruits of our speculation and conjecture.

Besides, I heard that Adrian Fenty blocked the transfer.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 22, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

@ billinmd -- I didn't say he's great, on the level of hte best players in Europe. He's not that consistent a playmaker, and he doesn't score a lot of goals. Maybe, he lacks maturity and focus. However, if you're looking at his resume, it's fair to note that most of his moves have been moves up. Brescia was just a loan -- not unusual for a 22 year old. And, he did well enough there to get Juventus' attention. Admittedly, he fell out of favor there, but he rebounded nicely for Fenerbahce. He's missed a lot of time, which leads one to question either his determination or his health, or both. I acknowledged at least the health issue in my first post. I'm not saying he's great. There are no more than a handful of MLSers who've even touched greatness and most of those are past their prime. This a quality footballer, with speed, strength and ball skills -- in his physical prime. Maybe the last time a player that young with that kind of ability came to MLS, it was Etcheverry, though he's a different player -- more physical, and less crafty.

Posted by: fischy | December 22, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I would rather pay/sign players with talent rather than a "big" name. We need to establish the name "MLS", not fill it with over 30 players that come to the US for a retirement check. Appiah is a great talent, and is still in his prime. He has more ability to change a teams performance than Beckham does at this point.

Posted by: travio15 | December 22, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

oh well. that would of been nice. wouldve thought they could at least dump emilio for something in the short term and then have the rest of the winter to find a new home for gallardo.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | December 22, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one reading the medical story on this Guy? It's probably not a good sign that pop up ads on articles about Appiah include "Great Local Knee Surgeons". Throw in the blood clots on top of that and a failed medical at Arsenal in September and it doesn't sound so good. I also found this post on a gunner forum back in Augustfrom gaffer: "I recently spoke to Turhan Sofuoğlu ,Ex Fenerbahçe Manager and still on the board at the club about Stephen Appiah. He told me that he was going to leave as he had serious knee problems. He even said he might never play again his knee was so bad." Our luck with injuries hasn't been the best lately, do you really want to go "all in" on a guy that hasn't played much in the last two years?

Posted by: ncguy | December 22, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but, dump Emilio? You crazy? If he starts the season fit, this year he's going to kill it.
Nice digging ncguy. We sure don't need any more damaged goods with pre-existing troubles(Gallardo, Peralta?) regardless of their age.

Posted by: DadRyan | December 22, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

emilio has never started a season fit. what makes you think this is gonna be the year? we should have sold him to morellia when we had the chance.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | December 22, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Pindar. Nothing personal against Emilio, but we should do better with a DP slot.

Posted by: fischy | December 22, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

How much change do you guys want? United got more out of Emilio for the money than Gallardo, no?
I would totally entertain the idea of getting a DP striker, but who the heck could United afford, and who would come?
We're probably in agreement that we don't want another geriatric, injury prone, looking for the pasture type a dude right?

I'm going back to my usual self and hoping for the best with what we got...Maybe Boyzzz is up in the gym with Doe getting ripped and we'll get some goals out of those guys early on. There's always Dyachenko...

Posted by: DadRyan | December 23, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

the mls top dogs should help find someone in mls to sign appiah. i've always been disappointed by mls's lack of desire to recruit players from africa. if someone snagged appiah it would open the door for other great ghanaian players and also others from all over africa - he's easily one of africa's most recognizable stars. michael essien isn't likely to head over anytime soon!

Posted by: utealum | December 24, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Appiah Laughs At MLS Link

Ghana captain Stephen Appiah reportedly said that reports linking him to Major League Soccer made him "laugh very loud'. article

Posted by: cr10 | December 25, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"Appiah Laughs At MLS Link"

Boy was that a conversation stopper and a huge dig at MLS.

Here is the link:

Posted by: Palin-McCain2012 | December 25, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

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