Chivas USA's decision whether to claim U.S. national team midfielder Benny Feilhaber, as is its right, will largely depend on how he fits within the club's salary-cap situation and impacts the ability to make other moves.
So said head coach Robin Fraser after Saturday night's 0-0 draw at Vancouver, the third time the Goats (0-2-3) have been shut out in five league games, a fact that might seem to urge the acquisition of the attacking midfielder, who signed Friday with Major League Soccer.
“In this big puzzle called MLS and MLS's salary cap and restrictions and that sort of thing, it's not a question as to whether Benny's good or if he would help us,” Fraser said, responding to written questions submitted through a club spokesman. “He's a very good player and would be a very good addition to our team, but we just have to be mindful of the face that within the salary cap, a big acquisition might affect our ability to make other moves.
“And in the end, maybe we decide it's worth it [to spend the money] because he's that valuable. But those are the decisions we have to be weigh.”
No word from the league yet on how big an acquisition Feilhaber (Irvine/Northwood HS and UCLA), who has played his entire professional club career in Europe, will be. The league does not release financial figures of any sort, but it is likely that the World Cup veteran will be a Designated Player or come close.
DPs count $335,000 against the $2,675 million salary cap but can make more; the transfer fee to Denmark's AGF Aarhus, also undisclosed, also will be factored into the Feilhaber's cost against the club's budget.
Fraser would not say how much space he has to play with under the cap, only that he had to be very careful with every financial decision. The Goats get first call on Feilhaber because they are atop the league's "allocation" table, which is used to dole out certain classes of players who sign with MLS.
Chivas's greatest area of need is a consistent goalscorer, and so Feilhaber might be worth more to the club in a trade, but his quality would figure to boost the Goats' struggling attack regardless.
“To be clear,” Fraser said, “I think he's a very, very good player and would help us a great deal, but we still have needs that we need to address.”