Two days after Major League Soccer stepped in and ordered Orlando City to stop its pursuit of AC Milan midfielder Antonio Nocerino, more drama has emerged from the ongoing saga involving the Lions and D.C. United. A report from The Washington Post's Steven Goff today says that D.C. United is planning to file tampering charges against Orlando City, who is said to have made a formal offer to Nocerino during United's ongoing negotiations, which constitutes a violation of league rules.
Neither Orlando nor United officials offered comment on the situation in the report, but according to Goff, OCSC is alleged to have made a formal offer to Nocerino of more than $900,000 per year despite D.C. United owning the player's discovery rights under league rules. United claims that Orlando's overtures interfered with its ongoing talks with Nocerino, whom D.C. offered a contract worth about $700,000 per season.
According to the report, City's late offer caused Nocerino to rethink the prospect of signing with D.C. United, which (understandably) has upset the club.
If Orlando City is found guilty, it could face fines and other disciplinary action from the league. It would not be the first time OCSC has been dealt penalties for tampering following fines last summer related to Lions manager Adrian Heath's public comments about interest in Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer.
D.C. filed its discovery claim on Nocerino with MLS last month, which gives the club exclusive league rights to negotiate with the AC Milan man. Since Orlando City is interested in Nocerino, United is obligated to make a formal offer -- which it did, as mentioned above -- or relinquish negotiation rights. Until those rights are relinquished, however, Orlando would not be allowed to negotiate with Nocerino.
Once the tampering charges are filed, Orlando would await word from the league regarding disciplinary action. As far as the Nocerino sweepstakes are concerned, Goff explained the 30-year-old midfielder's options:
[Nocerino] could decide to remain with Milan until his contract expires this summer, then pursue other opportunities. A Turkish club has shown interest in him, but the idea of playing and living in America has apparently swayed Nocerino and his wife.
Having set aside funds for other acquisitions, United is not expected to raise its offer to match Orlando's bid. If Nocerino turns it down, yet still wants to play in MLS, Orlando could re-enter the picture by acquiring his discovery rights from United for $50,000 in allocation money.
Nocerino seems to meet a more immediate need for United than he would for Orlando City, but if things don't ultimately work out between the player and the D.C. club, the Lions could get back into the picture. According to Goff, United is still waiting to hear from Nocerino regarding its offer, and Nocerino's interest in Orlando was sparked by his friendship with former AC Milan teammate Kaká. That would not change the channels which City would have had to go through in this process prior to opening up talks with the Italian, however.
The Lions now could be in for punishment from the league, and their status as repeat offenders after last summer's fines probably won't earn them any empathy.
For now, we will await word from the league (and from Nocerino to D.C.), and wait for the next development in the dramatic narrative.