With Toronto FC experiencing an early season crisis due to the injury suffered by designated player Torsten Frings, talk turned to whether the Reds had enough depth at center back to contend on both the CONCACAF Champions League and MLS fronts. One name that resurfaced as part of that conversation was former TFC defender Nana Attakora, who in the last year of his initial four-year MLS contract, was shipped to the San Jose Earthquakes last July in exchange for forward Ryan Johnson. Attakora played sparingly for the Earthquakes over the remainder of the 2011 season, in part due to lingering injury concerns, and departed the team in the offseason to pursue professional opportunities overseas.
With Frings out of the picture in Toronto for the next four to six weeks, the still out-of-contract Attakora makes sense as a reinforcement for a defensive unit that will be lacking the former German international. Attakora has made it clear that he would welcome a return to MLS, but that he does not see San Jose as one of the options. In a rather open discussion about his future prospects in the league, Attakora shared his frustration at the actions of the Earthquakes management in not trading away his player rights to a team which he hopes will be more favorable for his professional development.
Due to the policies of the current MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement, the San Jose Earthquakes have the first right of refusal to any MLS contract involving Attakora. Unlikely to surrender those rights for the benefit of the player, the Earthquakes have been shopping them on the MLS market in an effort to receive some level of compensation -- draft picks and/or allocation money -- in exchange. To date, according to the comments of Attakora, a deal has not been reached and he remains in MLS contract limbo, and is all but being held hostage by San Jose.
Attakora has become an integral part of the Canadian National Team set-up in recent years and could feature in the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. He expressed even before his move to San Jose last summer that he hoped to find his way in European football, so it came as no surprise that he spurned a contract offer made in January to return to the Earthquakes for the 2012 season. Still, given his production during his limited time in San Jose, it calls attention to just how much value Attakora places on his worth. MLSsoccer's Earthquakes beat writer said it best this morning.
Earthquakes management is under no obligation to trade his contract rights within MLS, but this outburst from Attakora only made it more difficult for them to do so. While understandable that Attakora finds his situation frustrating, diminishing his value by his comments only makes it less likely that he will see the field in the near future.