Toronto say Darren O’Dea has moved on to a club in Ukraine
Dubliner’s big salary was main reason for MLS club not renewing his contract
Darren O’Dea has finished up with MLS side Toronto and is reported to have joined a club in Ukraine.
Darren O’Dea’s MLS career appears to have ended suddenly over the weekend, with the Republic of Ireland international confirming he was in the process of negotiating a deal to move away from Toronto. The club’s manager, Ryan Nelsen, indicated the Dubliner is set to play in Ukraine.
“He’s moved on,” said Nelsen after Toronto’s 3-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas, in which the Dubliner played no part. “He got a contract from Ukraine and it was one he couldn’t turn down. He wanted to go. It was a good opportunity for him.”
The 26-year-old seemed less convinced when, via twitter, he commented: “For everyone asking, I’m discussing terms with another team. Not what I want! Not got a choice! I’ll update you when things are clearer!”
The Dubliner had, in fact, turned down an offer from Ukraine a year ago, saying that he opted to take a third of the salary available to move to Canada. He had repeatedly spoken since about how well he and his family had settled in Toronto, making it clear he wanted to extend his stay beyond the end of his deal in November.
O’Dea’s position, however, was undermined by him being the club’s second biggest earner – with guaranteed earnings this year of $456,000 (€349,000) – but not a “designated player”, meaning his salary came out of the club’s league supervised budget for the general squad.
With the team struggling, and Nelsen anxious to make significant changes, the Irishman was therefore an obvious target to be moved on.
“It’s unfortunate for Darren,” said Nelsen, “it’s not his fault that he has the contract he has, but in terms of MLS contracts it was pretty ridiculous to even think of giving it (to him). He’s the most expensive player in the whole of the league in terms of the salary cap.”
Though clearly disappointed to be leaving, O’Dea is unlikely to be entirely surprised that things have ended this way. “People only mention money when you’re not doing well,” he said not long after arriving at the club, “because they want value for money. Hopefully come the end of the season, people don’t look at our salary, they just look at a good team.”
That simply never happened, with the defender, who has also been captaining the team, involved in 28 MLS games, of which just two were won.
He may not have been helped either by him insisting to be allowed travel for all of Ireland’s international games. However, it seems leaving now and securing a deal in Europe was preferable to being left stranded in four months time.
QPR, meanwhile, have confirmed their interest in signing Richard Dunne with the club’s chief executive, Phil Beard, saying: “He’s not signed yet but he’s a player that Harry would like to bring to the club.”