Monday, April 12, 2021

What Sam Vines’ new deal says about the future of young players in MLS

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Sam Vines is one of the most talented young players in MLS, a growing part of the US men’s national team picture with ambitions to someday compete under the bright lights of a top European league.


He was also entering the final year of his contract this year. And for a long time, that combination of factors often added up to playing out the deal and crossing the Atlantic to try their luck as a free agent.

But Vines, much like NYCFC’s James Sands earlier in the week, and Reggie Cannon before them, didn’t do that. The 21-year-old homegrown just inked a four-year extension with the Colorado Rapids, a deal that will likely make him one of the better-paid fullbacks in MLS, Not bad at all for a kid who was out on loan at USL Championship side Charlotte Independence barely two years ago.

“So with Sam, I think he is very excited about the potential here with the club and feels like we can still provide a platform for him to achieve his ambitions, winning an MLS Cup, staying in the US men’s national team, playing at a World Cup in 2022, and potentially at some point in time making the move to Europe,” Colorado sporting director Padraig Smith said in a Friday media availability.

“There’s a great relationship there. We’re all on the same page in terms of how we want to see this goal going forward and the main aim right now is to perform at the club level, perform at the national level. And then we see where that goes.”

A range of European clubs are closely tracking Vines, with English sides Barnsley and Bournemouth, Danish power FC Midtjylland and Switzerland’s FC Basel all registering their interest this winter. And Vines and his camp trust that the Rapids will help set him up for the best move, at the best time, for all involved.

“With what seems to be one of the smallest salary budgets . . .

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