One way or another, Matt Besler is about to get paid. Chances are, DeAndre Yedlin is too. No United States players saw their stocks rise any higher than those two at the World Cup and rumors are already popping up all over the place suggesting European teams are hot on their tails.
Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman said there's "enormous interest" in his 27-year-old center back, while Seattle Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer said he's been fielding "lots of phone calls" regarding the fast-as-lightning 20-year-old. In the coming weeks, we're likely to hear similar stories about Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez and surely others who may not have been in the World Cup.
Besler and Yedlin are local products and unsurprisingly both team leaders expressed keen interest in keeping their players around. But the economic and aspirational realities being what they are, it's entirely possible that the two players will receive offers from abroad that are simply too good to pass up.
Both cases serve as good reminders of where MLS really lies in the hierarchy of world football. For all the money MLS has spent in recent years -- on aging stars like David Beckham and Thierry Henry to closer-to-their-prime players like Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey -- that's been mostly reserved for players with marketing power. Yedlin and Besler are both very good, but their ability to sell tickets is limited. MLS is still very much in a place where raising its profile is quite possibly the most important thing, so the bulk of resources are going to be focused on that area.
That's not to say keeping the Beslers and Yedlins of the league wouldn't help raise the league's profile -- or conversely losing them wouldn't hurt it to some degree -- which is why efforts will be expended on giving them extensions. In the case of Besler, he's reportedly weighing an offer with the hope of becoming a Kansas City lifer. No such specifics have been revealed about Yedlin, but being that he's still too young to drink, there's still a very good chance that he'll continue to have offers from Europe for years to come.
It's also important to keep in mind that it's also not as simple as MLS and its teams deciding whether or not they want to keep their best players. No matter how much MLS improves over the next few years, it's virtually impossible to imagine it rising to the level of the very best leagues in Europe. The best teams in England, Spain, Italy and Germany -- at the very least -- are in absolutely no danger of losing their perch atop the soccer world. Like athletes in all sports, soccer players want to play with and against the best in the world. If someone like Yedlin has a chance to be one of the best right backs in the world -- as some think is at least a possibility -- at some point that can only be tested in Europe.
No matter how much money the Sounders may be willing to pay him, there may come a point where someone is willing to pay him more and offer him an opportunity he'd never get in MLS. Is Roma -- a team rumored to be interested -- one of those suitors? Maybe not. But sooner or later if Yedlin continues on this trajectory, even bigger teams are going to come knocking.
This is maybe a long way of saying that the futures of Besler and Yedlin won't tell us much about MLS' status as a buying or selling league. The truth is that MLS has become a little bit of both and will likely continue to be for now. That's not such a bad thing.