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The MLS Matuidi investigation, and why it’s time the league does the Fire some big favors

MLS is investigating whether Inter Miami—the team that beat out the Fire for the final playoff spot last season—broke league rules to sign star midfielder Blaise Matuidi

MLS: Inter Miami CF at Nashville SC
Inter Miami midfielder Blaise Matuidi (8) dribbles in a match against Nashville SC
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

My first thought after hearing that MLS was “investigating” whether Inter Miami CF skirted league rules to sign Blaise Matuidi was that Miami owner David Beckham learned some good tricks while playing for the LA Galaxy.

My second thought was about the team that Inter Miami beat out for a playoff spot last season: the Chicago Fire. Yep, the Fire finished with 23 points, one point below Miami. Beckham’s team grabbed the final playoff spot, and the Fire went home.

When a giant star like Matuidi signs on a TAM deal, rather than a Designated Player deal, it certainly raises eyebrows. If the league determines Miami really did cheat here, it means the Fire probably missed the playoffs because of it.

Don’t get me wrong, the Fire had five wins last season. They didn’t deserve to make the postseason. But, it appears they still should have. Matuidi is certainly worth more than a point in the standings.

I think SB Nation’s Jeremiah Oshan nails what’s really going on here:

The official statement from MLS:

“Major League Soccer has begun a formal review of Inter Miami CF’s signing of midfielder Blaise Matuidi, specifically investigating whether the signing of the player complied with Major League Soccer’s salary budget and roster guidelines.

MLS will not make further comment until the completion of its investigation.”

Remember, this wasn’t the first time the Fire got screwed around last season. At the MLS is Back tournament, Chicago had to change groups at the last minute and move to the Western Conference because the league was slow to deal with the aftermath of Covid-19 outbreaks with FC Dallas and Nashville SC.

In October, the Fire flew all the way to St. Paul, MN, and were sitting in the team hotel, when they had to turn around and fly home because of a Covid situation with Minnesota United. Then, the league waited to reschedule that game until the final week of the season, meaning the Fire went into the last match against NYCFC on short rest.

I remember Francisco Calvo saying the league owed the Fire a favor after moving groups in Orlando. Now, more than ever, he’s correct. The Fire deserve a big favor from the league. What’s fair is fair.