Jermaine Jones linked to MLS: Possible Toronto FC target?

Jermaine Jones in action for Schalke O4 - Alex Grimm

Toronto FC are top of the Allocation Order thanks to last seasons disaster so that means any time a player that would go through that mechanism is linked to a MLS move they are front of the line.

With Toronto FC once again sitting at the top of the Allocation Order thanks to their terrible showing in 2012 it is always worth keeping an eye out on the rumour mill because every player that would join the league through that mechanism suddenly becomes a potential Toronto FC target.

For a refresher on just who qualifies for going through the Allocation Ranking here is what the official published rules have to say:

The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee. The allocation rankings may also be used in the event two or more clubs file a request for the same player on the same day when the discovery period opens in December. The allocations will be ranked in reverse order of finish for the 2012 season, taking playoff performance into account.
Once the club uses its allocation ranking to acquire a player, it drops to the bottom of the list. A ranking can be traded, provided that part of the compensation received in return is the other club’s ranking. At all times, each club is assigned one ranking. The rankings reset at the end of each MLS League season.

That means that when Dane Richards and Luke Rodgers are linked to possible MLS returns Toronto FC would be have the first crack at landing either of them. Neither would be a very good value for the top allocation spot considering the quality of many American internationals who might be persuaded to join the league this summer.

It gets more interesting though when someone like Schalke's Jermaine Jones is linked to a MLS move. In a report on the Dutch version of (take it for what it is worth) it is suggested that the American midfielder would be interested in making a summer move to MLS. With his contract with Schalke winding down he could be serious about a move to North America or he could be using the threat of a move to MLS as a negotiating ploy to force Shalke to pay him more as the club has expressed interest in extending the 31 year-old's contract.

Jermaine Jones is a gritty holding midfielder who is capable of being creative from time to time but the majority of his value comes from winning the ball and doing the dirty work. He comes with the drawback of being a bit of a liability to pick up cards including a couple of red cards each year. Even at 31 years of age he is better than almost every holding midfielder currently in the league and would be a clear upgrade on both Julio Cesar and Terry Dunfield should he wind up at Toronto FC.

Having represented Germany at the youth level and in international friendlies but after getting clearance from FIFA he made the switch to playing for the United States in 2010. As the son of an American Jones was born in Germany making him eligible for both countries and when Germany's head coach Joachim Löw made it clear Jones was not in his plans he made the switch to representing the United States as part of the growing German-American contingent under Jürgen Klinsmann.

So if the reports of Jones being interested in a move to MLS are true, what could that mean for Toronto FC? Well, with the top spot in the Allocation Order it means they do have first crack at him but he would command DP wages from the club and at 31 years of age would seem to fit the previous model that is now being cast aside by Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen.

There is no doubt that Jones has talent and could make Toronto FC better but he only has so many years left in his career. Would adding him be enough to put Toronto FC over the top in the short term? His signing would be similar to those of both Torsten Frings and Julian De Guzman in that the club would be getting a player with a good resume in Europe but not the kind of player who can be a real difference maker.

If TFC is serious about moving on from signing aging European players then Jones is not the kind of DP that the club should be looking at. That leaves them with another option should the midfielder be serious about making a move which would be trading their place in the allocation order to one of the other clubs that would surely be interested in adding Jones to their roster.

Should the club chose to take that route it will be key to ensure they avoid it becoming a repeat of what happened with Brian McBride when the player's desire to play for a specific club limited their flexibility and lowered the price they could ask for in return. It was clear that McBride was not going to play for Toronto FC so they had to take whatever they could get from Chicago in return for his rights which ended up being Chad Barrett and a first round Super Draft pick plus future considerations.

That was a decent return for McBride and it came with the club's hands tied and less competent management in charge of the deal so it would be interesting to see what Payne could do with the top spot should it be made clear that Jones is serious about a move to MLS. The value that TFC could get for trading the top spot could well exceed the value of adding Jones as a DP for the next couple of years as it would allow the club to continue to rebuild before adding a player like Jones when they need that little something extra to push them over the top.

If Jones is serious about a move to MLS what do you think Toronto FC should look to do? Is he the kind of player you would want to see at BMO Field or would the club be better off trading away the top spot in the allocation order?

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