Why did MLS use a blind draw to pick Jermaine Jones' new team?

Jermaine Jones officially joined MLS this weekend. You remember Jermaine Jones. He scored against Portugal in the World Cup.

After the World Cup, it took a while for him to join a team in MLS because they couldn’t figure out how to assign him one. That’s right, MLS assigned him to a team. Which, in case you’re wondering at home, is weird.

While Jones was waiting for MLS to figure things out for the past few months, he hasn’t been doing much of anything.

Here he is hanging out with Paris Hilton with Paris Hilton’s bra hanging out of her shirt:

And here he is with Mike Tyson. He’s pointing so you know which guy in the picture is Mike Tyson:

What caused the holdup? Well, Major League Soccer is something called single-entity. That means the league buys and sells the players, and then plops them off at different teams. For Jermaine Jones, MLS made up this thing called the “blind draw.” basically, two clubs wanted Jones and could afford him: The Chicago fire and the New England Revolution. So they put both club names in an envelope and MLS Commissioner Don Garber picked one. Seriously. In the two-thousand-and-fourteenth year of our lord, MLS decided where a grown man will live by drawing lots.

So why did MLS invent the blind draw? Excellent question, reader. Usually Jones would be subject to something called allocation ranking, which is pretty much a list of all the MLS clubs with the worst ones at the top. When the league buys a good player, they go to the worst team. You know, to even things out a bit. But MLS decided to forego its communist practices in the case of Jermaine Jones.

Here’s what an official statement said: “Jones, as a designated player of a certain threshold, was not subject to allocation ranking for dispersal to an MLS team.”

What is that threshold? Who decides when someone meets it? Who knows! Basically, sometimes MLS decides that a player is big enough that it’ll benefit the league to get him, even if they have to break their own rules to make it happen.

Here’s what Don Garber said in December of 2013: “I ask our fans to accept that at 18 years old we’re still evolving and we’re still doing some of this stuff on the fly.” this move was definitely done on the fly.

Right now you’re probably wondering why MLS the league is involved at all. Why not just let individual clubs bid? Another excellent question, dear reader. And why does MLS hate the free market?

MLS uses weird mechanisms like the blind draw, or the draft or the allocation list, to prevent clubs from bidding against each other. Think of it like this, on one end of the spectrum you have the big European leagues like the EPL and La Liga with basically no restrictions on transfer activity. On the other end of the spectrum is the WWE, where a central league not only controls who wins and loses, but even what you wear and say. MLS is somewhere in the middle. Maybe toward the WWE.

But why is it like this?

Let us tell you a story. Way, way back in the 1970s, soccer used to dominate the USA. Pele sold out 80,000 capacity giants stadium in his final game for the New York Cosmos in 1977. But within a couple years the whole league folded. Essentially they overextended themselves and went bankrupt. MLS is set up precisely to avoid that fate, so they veer toward the conservative whenever possible. Preventing clubs from bidding against each other is just one way they keep wages as low as possible.

Alexi Lalas reported on ESPN that Jermaine Jones’ contract is worth $4.7 million over a year and a half. So basically MLS made a $5 million dollar decision with blindfolds and envelopes.