Dollars and sense: Jamiro Monteiro to San Jose

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer


Cut your losses, cut your ties / Start a new life

These things they can tie you up, tie you down, wear you in and wear you out

Phantom Planet, “Making a killing”


There was the argument with the coach while leaving the field in Miami. Then there was the locker room dust up shortly after, followed by a suspension.

There was the obvious desire to leave town over the summer, papered over by the suggestion his discontent was in fact an issue with his family’s visas.

There was the market that never quite appeared while all those other ingredients simmered, boiled on with rumors like the reason he wasn’t playing on the left was because of his lack of chemistry with the team’s All-Star left back.

Then, after a quiet offseason, there was an African Cup of Nations performance that still didn’t move the meter, and a no-show at training camp for “visa issues.”

In the end, Jamiro Monteiro left the Philadelphia Union over the weekend for San Jose.

The player

There’s no question that Jamiro Monteiro is one of the more technically gifted players to ever put on Union blue.

He is a wizard with the ball at his feet, evidenced on the field by countless spins out of trouble, turns in tight spaces, and inch-perfect passes. Though his Instagram is now cleansed of content, there were even displays of skill in quarantined hotel hallways while wearing house shoes. The list of players who can perform an elastico in slip-on, ankle-high Uggs is short, but Miro’s name is on it.

In 2020, he was the metronome that moved the team forward onto the racing feet of Brenden Aaronson and Kai Wagner, the third corner on every attacking triangle. More than that, he was a defensive wasp, buzzing around the field and closing down space with superhuman speed – a specialist in predicting which way his mark would turn and being there before the poor sap was the wiser.

In short, he was very often the team’s best player on both sides of the ball.

As the tenor of the side changed in 2021 however, Monteiro’s strengths became his weaknesses.

Without an Aaronson-type player to slide through and with the team’s speedier strikers often sidelined with injuries, the Cape Verdean chose to step on the ball instead of move it. Countless times a Union counterattack died on his dancing shoes, the opposing defense reshaped and the Union in innocuous, midfield possession. With plenty of defensive cover behind him, his traits as a ball-winner also became less impressive and more redundant – both Leon Flach and Jose Martinez were better at that than he.

Whether he fits in San Jose’s system (Will they still play man-to-man all over the field?) is an open question. He didn’t fit in Philadelphia’s system anymore though, and the team moved on.

For whatever it’s worth, Monteiro hasn’t stuck with any club for much more than two or so years. Whether that means anything in the discussion of his departure from Chester is irrelevant as the pattern simply continues.

The money

The Union paid around $2 million to pry Monteiro from FC Metz in France’s 2nd division. He was worth more at the time, and the Union got a deal in getting their man.

This time, the Union didn’t get much at all in losing one of their most talented players.

Union fans are perplexed, while Quakes fans can hardly contain their excitement – they got one over on the Union!

The problem of course is that sometimes a player’s worth to a team can’t be measured or translated in Transfermarkt numbers. Monteiro might be worth more than $3 million at the ubiquitous site today, but it wasn’t clear that anyone in the world was willing to pay such a sum as he and his agent spent the better part of a year combing their respective rolodexes. Much more importantly, it also seemed to be clear that both he and the Union were interested in ending things – and there’s no such thing as an “amicable divorce,” or one where both parties get exactly what they wanted when the dust settles.

Worth and value are different things, and numbers play a part in both – but not the whole part.

There has been plenty of ink spilled on these pages regarding how Ernst Tanner and the Union do business. In summary, they buy low, sell high, and invest more in their academy than the first team. It’s a long play and one that is clearly working, a model the league over.

This isn’t a “high” sale by any stretch, nothing like the Fixer Upper flip the team made with Kacper Pryzbylko.

Sometimes in business the best thing to do is sell – even when doing so means losing a talented player or losing money. Getting rid of an unhappy employee might be a short-term negative for a company, but when he or she is replaced by a happier one, culture and productivity ought to increase.

Union fans should be celebrating: it’s easy to spot something worth buying, but it’s an acute and rare skill to spot something worth selling.

The future

When Haris Medunjanin was jettisoned for Cincinnati, Union fans wondered who would link the team’s back four with its burgeoning, assertive attack.

The next year, the team won the Supporter’s Shield by eliminating the need for Medunjanin’s otherworldly passing and forcing the line of engagement higher than would have been useful for his skill set.

As Jamiro Monteiro embarks on a California journey, Union fans may be wondering who will make that line-breaking pass when teams bunker and force the Union to beat them in any other way that isn’t a counter – an inevitability and a strategy that plagues good, fast teams the world over.

This year, a bevy of Academy grads and a more seasoned Daniel Gazdag will take those reins in an attempt to answer that specific question.

If history is any indication, Union fans needn’t worry.


  1. John P. O'Donnell says:

    For years we wished this team had a plan and an identity. Wishbones shared by PSP readers were sacrificed, rainbows that appeared over the stadium implored, many a birthday candle year after year revived the same request throughout the Delaware valley.. I’m sure even the ever disappearing penny might have seen its trip down the well with please give the Union an identity, but going into lucky season 13 it has arrived. So the next time you’re at the tailgate sitting on the lawn just know that dandelion primed for blowing or that ladybug that lands in your beverage can now be used to wish for the Cup that brings tears towards your eyes because we have a plan. Just remember as a true Philly fan when the eyelash falls from those tears… We still have more wishes an clearly the answer to the other was Mr Ernst Tanner.

    • Beautifully said! Given Tanner’s importance to the club, it would be great if a media outlet could profile his current status. Is he having a blast building the Union and competing in MLS? Is he constantly getting tempting offers to move elsewhere? Europe? Has he received pay bumps from Sugarman? I’ve seen snippets in interviews, but not much in the way of a full story (of late at least). Would be a great read. A statue of him, curtin, blake, and Le Toux needs to happen!

      • No thank you…let’s keep Tanner as low-profile as possible! We don’t want to attract poachers!

    • soccerdad720 says:

      Very eloquent writing. You should volunteer here. And spot on sentiments as well.

  2. Great article!
    We lost Miro, for what looks like a steal, but it apparently had to happen and we appear to have gotten Carranza for a steal.
    Another way to read some of these moves is that Tanner never wanted to play a Christmas tree formation, but was forced to by personnel.
    Neither of his 10s were up to doing it solo & he had a depleted striking group.
    Maybe this is the signal that they are recommitting to the 442 – that Gazdag is ready to be solo #10 and that McGlynn has progressed to the point that having him at #8 isn’t much of a step down from ‘Miro.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    we’ll all watch Daniel Gazdag play this year. We’ll all be thoroughly pleased. There is no loss in the midfield with Jamiro gone & young players a bit older. I liked the player. But I’m okay he’s moved on and I hope he is happy too.

  4. This team will never win a cup as long as the folks who own it and run the show do not want to spend money to land quality, in-form talent. It’s really become tiresome. Oh, and what happened to all of those promised to Chester when arranging to build the stadium beneath the bridge. I remain a fan but have given up hope and won’t attend any games in person because of these deceptions.

    Finally, MLS will always be a mediocre league when selling off good young talent is taken as a victory of sorts.

    • I’m not sure what you mean “deceptions.”

      They were a COVID outbreak from the cup last year, brought a highly sought-after, league-leading striker from Europe, another from South America, and have broken ground on another phase of investment on the waterfront in Chester. They don’t always sell off talent, as evidenced by guys like Wagner and Elliott staying put – but they also make money by selling players as an investment in the first team and the academy.

      The teams that spend the most in MLS regularly end up at the bottom of the table.

      • Agreed – we all wanted a DP striker and they brought in 2. Hard to argue with that.
        Union also only MLS team to crack the FIFA top 200 preseason ratings.
        I’m optimistic for the season.

    • I don’t know. This team was a Covid outbreak away from going to MLS Cup Final, a game I would have put money on them winning. Now, minus Jamiro and plus Carranza and Uhre, I think we’re even better. The team has spread its spend across the roster and has built a legitimate team, not just pumping a big figure into a single designated player. Seems to be working.

  5. When you’re a club in MLS, you don’t sign players from European leagues in their mid 20s and expect to turn a profit if you pay $2 million for them. Especially when you buy before COVID and try to sell after. I’m not thrilled with what the return the Union managed to get for Monteiro, but with him the transfer fee was always about buying a player who could contribute to the team, not about investing in a future sale. So I’m fine with it from a business standpoint. Still iffy on a on field perspective, but hoping Gazdag and our homegrowns make that a moot point too.

  6. I always loved watching Miro…my first impression was he was an Ilsinho-level ball handler….but fast.
    I am disappointed that whatever the issue(s) were, and I don’t think they are public yet, couldn’t be worked out.
    Even with his departure, I still think we are net-plus this off-season, and have to be viewed as contenders.
    A sweet change from not too long ago, I must say…

  7. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I know I’m late to everything happening with all of this…
    Monteiro will be missed. He did a little bit of everything and did a lot of dirty running. Wish him the absolute best in SJ. That being said, I’m starting to think we’ll be ok, as long as Bedoya isn’t run into the ground again. And while I like McGlynn to get more minutes this year for sure, is Sullivan really an 8? It was kind of hard to tell last year where he fit best, but there’s no doubt his talent is incredible. I really hope Flach and Bueno take steps forward because McGlynn and Bedoya starting 30 games doesn’t give me a ton of confidence at the moment, much as I love both players.

    • I think Sullivan’s most natural position might be wide forward, which is something we don’t really play with in Philadelphia. He’s not a natural 8, but the Union can probably get away with playing him there especially as an offensive option off the bench.

  8. I remember commenting here on Miro ‘giving up on the Union, hiding behind his family’s visa isssues”… and was lambasted by readers.

    And now we see those readers were wrong, blind homers.

    Miro was a club house cancer, ‘negative ego driven energy’, despite his obvious skills, in the Marco Fabian realm.


    Now figure out REALLY why 11 players simultaneously tested positive for COVID after a season of protocols that worked.



    • As I recall, I among others urged folks to give Miro the benefit of the doubt, because being away from your family during a pandemic is really hard—and, come to think, might lead one to not be the best teammate, etc. He’s just a person, and sending vitriol his way is unnecessary, not to mention cruel. As for the Covid positives, Mr. Omicron would like a word.

    • dude there was a party and people got infected there’s no need for conspiracy theories (but Garber can go get f’d I’m with you on that one)

    • We don’t know that Jamiro Monteiro was a clubhouse cancer, all we know is that he was unwilling to resign with the Union for the wages being offered to him. He did good work on the field when he was here, and now he’s moving on. That doesn’t make Monteiro a club house cancer or negative ego driven energy, it makes him a professional footballer.

  9. My main concern is that Gazdag’s success was based on his relationship with Jamiro. Hopefully that’s replaceable, and this is as much a bet on Aaronson and McGlynn as it is cutting ties with negative energy. I didn’t know that Kai and Jamiro didn’t get along, is this a guess or an established thing?

    • This is a really interesting perspective and one I hadn’t really considered – him having success based on Miro. I think Gazdag looks happy and integrated into the team in the preseason videos, but whether that translates to the field remains to be seen.

      I try not to speculate about people when I’m writing for PSP. I may be wrong about that sentence, but the source I have for is pretty reliable.

    • With Gazdag, it’s also worth remembering he basically came to MLS after completing an entire season without a proper break, and that it’s pretty uncommon for attacking talents to play up to their full potential in MLS without some adjustment. I expect him to have a much better season, simply because he’s had a chance to adjust to the league and get an offseason, even if he had good chemistry with Monteiro.

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