The Union are (gasp!) trying to spend money ... Major League Soccer says 'not so fast, my friend'

The Union are (gasp!) trying to spend money ... Major League Soccer says 'not so fast, my friend'

U.S. National Team player Maurice Edu could be coming to the Union, unless MLS decides to not allow it.

Tuesday was a wild day for the Philadelphia Union, which, up until this point, had been damn near comatose this offseason.

Tuesday night, things got even wilder.

To explain briefly:

On Tuesday morning, the Union traded defender Jeff Parke to D.C. United for defender Ethan White and the top spot in Major League Soccer's "Allocation Order." A good trade in and of itself, at least in my opinion.

More interesting is the "Allocation Order" piece of the deal. The "Allocation Order" is a waiver wire of sorts. Any player in the United States National Team player pool looking to join MLS must go through the Allocation Order. If a player wants to come to MLS, the team at the top of the list has the first crack at him. If that team passes, the second team can sign him, and Team No. 1 stays atop the list. If you "use" your place to sign said player, then you go to the bottom of the list. Spots can be traded.

Got it?

Now sitting atop the list, it appeared the trade was less about Ethan White and more about acquiring the next "big" American looking to return to MLS, and immediately a name made the rounds: Maurice Edu.

Edu (not related to Freddy Adu, so relax) is a 27-year-old defensive midfielder who has played 45 times for his country, most recently in 2012. He is perhaps best known for scoring the goal that didn't count in the 2010 World Cup, thanks to idiot official Koman Coulibaly.

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Edu has played in Scotland for Rangers and is currently under contract with Stoke City of the English Premier League. He has been on loan to Bursaspor of Turkey.

All afternoon, reports pointed to an offer from the Union, and it seemed like a deal would be done in time for a big announcement at Thursday's MLS SuperDraft at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (where the Union have eight picks, including No. 2 overall).

The Union were about to make a splash (maybe not Michael Bradley level, but a splash nonetheless), fans were about to get a name they recognized, and the team was going to instantly improve. I like Edu. I would love to see him play here, and it would give the Union a solid experienced presence on and off the field. Plus, it would possibly allow them to shop Brian Carroll (also a defensive midfielder) and possibly turn him into another piece they need.

Great. Good. Go Union.

Then the league decided -- according to that Jeff Carlisle report -- that $1.2 million was just too much for Edu.

How can MLS block the deal? Remember that all MLS players are technically owned by the league, not the team they play for. The league is a single corporation and every owner is an investor (some more than others). Profits are shared (to a point) and salaries are paid by the league (also to a point). To fans of other American sports, this whole setup seems strange. But the "single-entity" structure is why MLS has survived and thrived far longer than other American soccer leagues, since one team can't spend wildly while others flounder.

Whew, too much jargon. OK, now, a few quick thoughts on the potential move, which could be either done or dead by the time you read this.

Is $1.2 million too much for Maurice Edu? Almost definitely. By any standard, that's a ton of money. It's way more than Edu makes in England, and it's 400% more than Kyle Beckerman -- probably the league's best defensive midfielder -- makes with Real Salt Lake. So, since the league pays his salary, they should be able to block the Union move, right?

Absolutely. Not.

Five years ago, MLS would have a leg to stand on in this discussion. But just last week, the league not only allowed Toronto to overpay (roughly $50 million!) for two players, the league HELPED Toronto pay the bill. Do I have any problem with Toronto's signings, or the league helping out? Not at all. Bradley and Defoe are exciting players who bring credibility and quality to MLS.

But when you let Toronto overpay for the players it wants, you can't turn around and tell a team like the Union that it can't "overpay" for who it wants.  MLS has always been criticized for making up the rules as it goes, and mocked for "favoring" certain teams over others. This only furthers the conspiracy theories (not to mention why Edu, a likely designated player, has to go through the Allocation Order at all ... but we won't even go there).

The Union, and most other teams in the league not located in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle or (apparently?) Toronto, will always have to overpay for "name" players. Always.

If the Kansas City Royals wanted to sign Mike Trout, he'd only consider it at a premium price. If the Milwaukee Bucks want LeBron, they better offer every penny the cap allows, plus the deed to the state and every luxury box at Lambeau Field.

In simpler terms: If you're the quiet dorky kid in school and you want to take the hottest cheerleader to the prom, then you better have a Corvette convertible to drive there, a beer-stocked lakehouse for the post-prom party, and a fistful of compliments for your date's shoes, hair and dress.

There are a lot of teams in this league that would love to have Maurice Edu, and most of them have much nicer training facilities (or training facilities at all), better talent already in-house or a trophy case full of silverware. The Union are in their fifth season and trying to get a foothold in a sports-mad city with four other major franchises. So if it costs a little more money to get your man, then so be it.

Hypothetically, what if Edu proves to be a dominant force in the midfield and gets on the radar for this summer's World Cup team? What if he gets a spot on the roster and scores a big goal in Brazil before returning to Philadelphia and leading the Union to the playoffs. Aren't those jersey sales alone worth $1.2 million?

If you're commissioner Don Garber, you're either interested in taking the next step as a league and bringing in any player who can help, or you're interested in letting a few teams grow while the others remain "small-market."

Yes, the league pays the players. And no, I don't think the league should dump its single-entity structure. But it's time to let teams sink or swim on their own signings. Trust me, there will be plenty of fans ready to yell at John Hackworth and Nick Sakiewicz if Edu is a $1.2 million flop. It would likely cost one or both of them their jobs.

But if MLS blocks this deal, then there will still be plenty of Union fans ready to yell. Except they'll direct their anger at Garber, who, it just so happens, will stand behind a podium at Thursday's draft right here in Philadelphia.

Good luck with that one, Don.

Coming later today: A preview of Thursday's draft, with a few names to look out for. 

Follow Steve on Twitter @smoore1117.

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

It was the Ivan Provorov show at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon when the Flyers took down the NHL-leading Blackhawks, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
 
The orange and black are now on a season-best four-game winning spree and have climbed past the Capitals for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
Let’s delve into the game with 10 observations.
 
1. Remember this? When Provorov tripped over his own two skates in Chicago? It was a bit of an embarrassing moment for the 19-year-old. It resulted in an easy Blackhawks goal and, in many ways, served as Provorov’s rookie initiation as he finished a minus-5. Well, you can forget all that. The Flyers’ young, prized blueliner, who entered with one goal in 25 games, showed Chicago his true colors Saturday by ripping off two markers in 31 seconds of the second period. Good for him.
 
2. Brayden Schenn was extra demonstrative after extending the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 in the second period. Can you blame him? The 25-year-old had just one goal in his last 17 games. Schenn has been up and down the lineup, playing on all four lines and at both wing and center. He looked good here with Travis Konecny, who delivered a surgical pass to set up Schenn.
 
3. Patrick Kane had a secondary assist but that was all as the Flyers kept him mostly quiet. Kane, a four-time All-Star and last season’s Hart Memorial Trophy winner for NHL MVP, had 24 points coming in, good for seventh in the league.
 
4. Steve Mason was good in net. He’s now won three straight, a span in which he’s stopped 90 of 95 shots.
 
5. Aside from a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty by Nick Cousins in the third period, the Flyers played with great discipline. Chicago wasn’t awarded any power plays until there was 6:31 left in the game. The Flyers forced the Blackhawks to beat them at full strength and they couldn’t.
 
6. Cousins, Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl all tallied an assist apiece. The Flyers outshot Chicago, 30-27, and had just seven giveaways.
 
7. The Blackhawks’ opening goal was a nice one. Artem Anisimov adeptly eluded a sliding Provorov in front of the crease and fed Artemi Panarin for a one-timer. Mason had no chance. Panarin, as you may know, beat out Shayne Gostisbehere for last season’s Calder Memorial Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie. The 25-year-old has nine goals and 22 points this season.
 
8. Unexpectedly, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford underwent an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital Saturday, putting Chicago in bind. Second-string netminder Scott Darling received the start, but the Blackhawks needed an emergency backup. Enter the pride of Temple, Eric Semborski, a 23-year-old from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, who played club hockey for the Owls. Chicago inked him to an amateur tryout, essentially for one day. He was seen in warmups wearing a Temple mask, which sported “Philly Proud” and “Temple Tuff.”
 
 9. Chicago came in 13-3-2 since Oct. 28. However, the Blackhawks overall are 6-6-1 on the road compared to 10-1-2 at home. The Flyers did catch a break as Chicago was without Crawford and three-time All-Star Jonathan Toews (back). Still, a really good win for the Flyers against a team that was atop the NHL.
 
10. Wondering if there were any “woo” chants in the first home game since Jakub Voracek blasted fans for it? Well, only a select few had the audacity to try it but the woos never gained steam. Fans are past it.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

BOX SCORE

The Flyers now have a legitimate win streak going.
 
They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1, in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Wells Fargo Center for their fourth straight victory (see 10 observations).
 
It’s the longest win streak of the season for Dave Hakstol’s club.
 
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov scored twice in the second period just 31 seconds apart to erase a 1-0 deficit and put the Flyers ahead. The Flyers scored three goals on their first four shots that period.
 
Chicago has now lost 13 consecutive regular-season games in Philadelphia. The Hawks last won here in 1996-97, when the building opened as CoreStates Center.

Steve Mason (26 Saves) made his third straight start in goal for the Flyers, while Scott Darling was a late sub in goal for Chicago given Corey Crawford’s emergency appendectomy surgery. 
 
Notable goals
Artemi Panarin’s one-timer from the left circle in the first period saw all five Flyers on the opposite side of the ice. 
 
Twice is nice
Provorov’s first goal was high shot above the left circle. His second goal came from the high slot low toward the left post on Darling.
 
What-a-pass
Travis Konecny threaded a puck between two Blackhawks to Brayden Schenn’s stick to set up the Flyers' third goal in the second period.
 
Inconclusive
In an effort to help Mason, Provorov had his glove hand over the puck in the Flyers' net and cleared it out. Replays were inconclusive. All you could see is Provorov moving his glove hand and the puck squirting out … but from where? It should have been a goal, but if the video doesn’t show the puck in the net, even if logic suggests otherwise, it’s not a goal. 
 
Goalie report
Mason didn’t face the kind of shot challenges that Darling did, but he did a very good job of slowing things down and forcing faceoffs by covering up shots in the paint rather than attempt to keep pucks alive.
 
Power play
The Flyers had their pickings on their first opportunity and the Hawks’ lowly 30th-ranked PK units did nothing but rely on Darling to make saves.
 
Penalty kill
Chicago didn’t have a full power play. It got an abbreviated one in the third period, when the Flyers were called for too many men on the ice during a power play, which is rather incongruous when you think about it.
 
Father and sons
The Flyers' annual event began Saturday, as players’ fathers watched the game here at the Wells Fargo Center. The fathers will travel with the team to Nashville for Sunday’s game as well.
 
Scratches
Defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) and Radko Gudas (ill); forwards Boyd Gordon (back spasms), Sean Couturier (left knee) and Scott Laughton (healthy); goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee).
 
Up next
This is a back-to-back situation for the Flyers. They leave after the game for Nashville, where they will meet the Predators on Sunday at a rare playing time of 6 p.m.