This morning, in a somewhat unprecedented move, Major League Soccer released names of the players who will graduate from the Generation adidas program, a week earlier than normal. Thankfully, for the Houston Dynamo, midfielder Danny Cruz was not on that list. Next week, once the 2010 season is over, 11 players who came into MLS as a part of the program will graduate.
For those who do not know what Generation adidas is, it is a program for young MLS players where they are given a contract that provides them an opportunity to leave college early and develop their soccer careers in Major League Soccer. Because the players are leaving college, they are paid a higher salary than the league minimum and educational funds so they can later return to school and pursue a degree. Clubs like this program because it gives them the chance to develop young talent on the team with a salary that does not count against the salary cap.
Once a player graduates from the Generation adidas program, their club has the opportunity to sign them, but now the player's salary will count against their club's budget in 2011. This inclusion is important for the clubs who have already begun to build their roster for next season.
'I have finally been told that I will not graduate from the Generation Adidas program this year,' Cruz said in an exclusive interview with SBNation Houston. 'This is good for both me and the club because it means I will not count against our salary cap next season. I am currently on my last year of my contract heading into this season and am really looking forward to it. It is a big year for me being in the last year of my current deal so I just want to continue to get better every day, that is my goal.'
For the Dynamo, Danny Cruz's name not being on the graduation list is a blessing. The young midfielder saw increased playing time this season, especially after his mentor and starting right midfielder Brian Mullan was traded to the Colorado Rapids in a deal that involved allocation money and Colin Clark, and has likely secured his place on the starting XI team sheet for next season.
Cruz staying in the Generation adidas program also means the Dynamo can secure his services (guaranteed at $118,000, as of August 2010) without having to factor him into next season's salary cap calculations and will not have to protect him in next week's MLS Expansion Draft.
Here is the list of players graduating from Generation adidas next week: Eric Avila (FC Dallas), Nico Colaluca (New England Revolution), Roger Espinoza (Kansas City Wizards), Stefan Frei (Toronto FC), Bruno Guarda (FC Dallas), Baggio Husidic (Chicago Fire), Fuad Ibrahim (Toronto FC), Chance Myers (Kansas City), Alex Nimo (Real Salt Lake), Ciaran O'Brien (Colorado Rapids) and Brek Shea (FC Dallas).
Graduates from the program could be made available for selection in the MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 24 unless placed on a club's protected list.