With 11 games remaining in the MLS season, there's still plenty of time for Real Salt Lake to make a postseason push — and additional help could be on the way.
RSL is actively pursuing U.S. National Team midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, and according to Deseret Morning News sources a deal could be reached soon.
Beasley has spent the past two years playing for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch first division, but apparently he isn't happy and RSL coach John Ellinger is trying to lure him back to Major League Soccer.
Beasley spent four and half years in MLS before he left Chicago in the summer of 2004 to play overseas.
"DaMarcus is one of the most sought after American players by multiple MLS teams, and we would love to have DaMarcus on our left side to compliment Chris Klein on our right side for obvious reasons," said RSL general manager Steve Pastorino, who wouldn't confirm whether the club was in talks with Beasley's agent.
Ellinger is one of the main reasons Beasley is considering a return to the States. He was one of Ellinger's top players when the RSL coach was in charge of the Under-17 U.S. Residency Program back in 1999, and like so many of Ellinger's former players, Beasley has always expressed an interest in playing for Ellinger again.
MLS, which handles all player contracts, must reach a deal with Beasley's current club and RSL by end of the FIFA summer transfer window on Aug. 31 for him to be eligible this season.
Beasley's salary could be one of the main sticking points.
At 24, Beasley is still one of the best young soccer players in the United States. As a result, he would no doubt like his contract to be in the range of Landon Donovan, who is making $900,000 per season with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Even though such a figure would push any team over the approximate $2 million salary cap, it is by no means a hard cap like the NFL. Of Donovan's huge salary, only $350,000 counts toward the salary cap. The remaining $550,000 is paid partly from a pool of money the league sets aside called allocation money, whereas the rest is from an undisclosed source.
There are two types of allocation money, and MLS awards them for such things as missing the playoffs, major player retirement or the departure of key players to other leagues — such as Brian McBride to English Premiere League. Major allocations can range between $200,000 to $300,000, whereas minor allocations range from $100,000 to $200,000.
Allocation money is added to a player's base salary, but it's done via a priority system to keep a competitive balance to MLS.
Allocation money, as well as the undisclosed money, hasn't just helped Donovan get rich. Freddy Adu signed with D.C. United in 2004 for $550,000, whereas Kansas City's Eddie Johnson is making $875,000 and Chivas USA's Juan Francisco Palencia is making $1.3 million.
Money isn't the only obstacle RSL would have to jump through to obtain Beasley. There's another loophole in the system, and it's often referred to as the Donovan rule.
When Donovan announced his desire to return to the United States prior to the 2005 season, he made it perfectly clear he wanted to play in Los Angeles. There was only one problem, FC Dallas was at the top of the allocation list — essentially a priority list for big-name free agents. Unfortunately for Dallas, Donovan didn't want to play in Texas. So in a nutshell, the league demanded Dallas and Los Angeles work out a deal so Donovan would end up in his native Southern California. The Galaxy sent Carlos Ruiz to Dallas for the No. 1 allocation, a satisfying transaction for both parties.
As it stands now, Real Salt Lake is fourth in the allocation pecking order, behind Kansas City, Columbus and Dallas. It's doubtful all three of those teams will pass on a talented player like Beasley if he does indeed decide to return to MLS.
Nonetheless, if Beasley insists he'll only return if he's playing for Ellinger at Real Salt Lake, the league will make it happen just like it did with Donovan.
RSL no doubt hopes the deal is finalized before Aug. 31, so Beasley can help the club climb into a Western Conference playoff picture.