If you watched this week's The Eddie Robinson Show you may have noticed there was no Eddie Robinson. Instead, Dynamo legend and Dash director Brian Ching took his place next to Sebastian Salazar. As always the guys covered a myriad of topics, but what caught my attention came towards the end of the show. Salazar asked Brian Ching for his stream of conscience thoughts about Eddie Johnson of DCU.
"Played with him you know and he is one of those guys that every time he is getting close to playing for a contract or proving himself he goes out and he does his work and you're like 'Wow okay!' but once he gets that contract or DP status he tends to disappear a little bit." Ching said, "It's kind of like he is fighting so hard to prove that he's good that when he gets there he just kind of stops doing the things that made him successful. That's one of the things I've noticed about Eddie playing with him...If I was to sign him I would say 'Hey here's $10,000 a goal. You're making $50,000 or you're making $100,000 you want money score goals.' He that kind of guy...He loses that drive, that mentality once he gets rewarded or gets his contract."
I'll be honest that was not really that answer I was expecting from Ching, but he was totally honest and totally right. Unfortunately, performance dropped off after a contract year is extremely common in sports. While incentive laden contracts can help, some sort of drop off always seems to occur.
The Dynamo current case in point? Andrew Driver. While not entirely the same since he was with the Dynamo last year as a loan from Heart of Midlothian. Still his contract with Heart expired at the end of last year and he had played great for the Dynamo though out his loan spell. Many fans, myself included, were begging for the Dynamo to sign him. However, Driver and the team were a ways apart on terms, but after shopping around Driver discovered that staying in orange would be his best option. Has anyone seen Andrew Driver this year? Yeah not so much. His time on the field has been middling at best. He played in 26 games for the Dynamo in 2013 and scored three goals. So far he has played in 20 games and has yet to score any goals. His shots on goal have decreased from 11 to 6 and he has mostly been invisible this season.
I agree with Ching that incentive laden contracts are something that MLS needs to do with more players. Yes, I know that many contracts have bonuses in them but I'm talking about a smaller base pay with large amounts of money for goals for a striker or midfielder depending on the set up of the team. Stop rewarding what a player did last season and reward them for their successes of this season. Now not all players are motivated by money I get that but there are players like Eddie Johnson who need those larger goals and larger incentives to keep producing at a high level.
What do you think? Is there a good way to prevent player drop off after a contract year?