Where will Luis Gil land?
That's the question on the minds of fans, as the highly-touted 16-year-old will be allocated to one of the 16 clubs via a weighted lottery at 2 p.m. Monday.
As the team with the worst record in MLS in 2009, the Red Bulls have the best shot at Gil; Toronto FC would have the fourth-best shot, after New York, San Jose and Kansas City. The expansion Philadelphia Union is also in the lottery, but it has the lowest chance of winning the Gil prize. It is seeded 16th, behind the Columbus Crew, who sported the best regular-season mark in 2009.
Gil is a 16-year-old California who has spent time on trial with Arsenal; but, over the weekend, MLS announced it had signed the player to a Generation Adidas deal, meaning he won't count against the salary cap. He's a gifted offensive-minded midfielder, who can spray passes through the middle of the park or make dashes up the right wing with considerable pace. He models himself after his favourite player, Cristiano Ronaldo.
As a California kid with latino roots, he would be a marketing boon for any of the three California or two Texas teams, which work hard to woo their strongly Mexican-flavoured fan bases.
He has suited up 18 times for the American U-17 team, scoring four times and adding four assists Ė and some of his runs and goals have become YouTube sensations. Last year, the United States Soccer Federation named him the country's Young Player of the Year.
Already, the rumour mills have been going, suggesting that Gil's agent, Mike Gartlan, has stipulated that his client only wants to land in either Seattle or Salt Lake City ó and if another team wins his allocation rights, it will be expected to make a deal with either the Sounder or Real Salt Lake.
Toronto FC was in a similar situation back in 2008 when American veteran striker Brian McBride decided to leave Fulham and the English Premiership behind for a return to MLS. TFC, at the top of the allocation list, automatically got his rights, even though McBride had no intention of making BMO Field his home. He had his sights set on Chicago; finally, after weeks of haggling, TFC dealt McBride's rights to the Fire in a deal that brought forward Chad Barrett to Toronto.
If Gil falls Toronto's way, he should fetch a considerably higher price ó if the blogosphere is correct and he won't simply accept the team that selects him.