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The Matias Pellegrini mess
The questions MLS and Inter Miami need to answer
It was a weekend filled with golazos, exciting finishes and plenty of upsets — but the first week of the MLS season at least partially was overshadowed by what happened on Friday night.
Just hours before the regular season was set to kick off, MLS and Inter Miami released a statement saying that Miami were exercising their offseason buyout on winger Matias Pellegrini. Along with that news was MLS’s statement which read that Miami’s roster was not in compliance during the 2020 season. Sam Stejskal has a great breakdown of what this all means at The Athletic — but basically Miami cheated when they signed Blaise Matuidi.
This is a mess for both the league and the team. For the league, it furthers the narrative that big, shiny clubs can get away with whatever they want. Of course there will be a punishment, but Miami were able to get away with this for half of last season. For Miami, it shows just how clumsy they were when getting this club off the ground. They have worked to rebuild — adding Chris Henderson as sporting director was a positive step — after such a disastrous expansion season, but fans should be skeptical about almost everything moving forward.
The biggest question for Miami fans will be what the punishment will be, which is expected to be announced this week. In reality, it would have made a lot more sense if the league decided on this before the season actually started but they probably felt like it was too late in the offseason to hand down any punishment for the 2021 season. A points deduction seems unlikely, so the smart money lies with a some sort of punishment in terms of the roster. This could mean a reduction in Designated Player spots, Under-22 spots, General Allocation Money or Targeted Allocation Money. My bet would be on GAM.
But that is just one part of this fiasco. Instead of going through it all, let’s just ask some questions that I hope will get answered at some point.
If the league approves all contracts, how/why did they let Miami become non-roster compliant?
If the reason is because Matuidi received some kind of “extra benefits” (which wouldn’t be a shock with a big-name DP), what were they?
Are any non-player wage benefits acceptable in MLS? If not, who approved Matuidi's “extra benefits”? The league? The team? An agent?
Why did it take so long to figure out why Miami’s roster was not compliant in 2020?
Who blew the whistle? MLS? Matuidi (after he didn’t get something he was promised)? Miami? A former Miami employee?
What would have happened if Miami were actually good last year?
Why couldn’t Miami move Pellegrini to another team? No MLS teams were interested in a loan?
Disclaimer: Due to my relationship with Austin FC, I will not be discussing that team on this site.