MLS stopped paying Marvell Wynne 3 months after heart surgery - sources

ByJeff Carlisle ESPN logo
Sunday, September 17, 2017

MLS ceased paying San Jose Earthquakes defender Marvell Wynne in July, a little more than three months after the 12-year veteran underwent season-ending -- and perhaps career-ending -- heart surgery, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.

The versatile defender signed a new contract during the offseason, a two-year deal which was set to pay him just over $257,000 this season, according to data provided by the MLS Players Union.

But during a preseason physical, which included an electrocardiogram, it was discovered that Wynne had a heart abnormality, and on March 24 he underwent a nine-hour operation at Stanford Medical Center to correct the defect.

Since Wynne failed his physical, MLS could have terminated his contract, but instead the league decided to suspend the deal, according to a source, meaning that while Wynne was not allowed to play, he would continue to be paid as he went through his recovery.

Wynne, 31, was seen practicing on the side with San Jose earlier this summer, though he was limited to conditioning drills. Multiple sources confirmed that while the specialist who treated Wynne cleared him to play, a league-affiliated doctor concluded that the player wouldn't be fit to play this season.

As a consequence, Wynne was informed that starting on July 1, he would no longer receive his salary. Since all MLS player contracts are held by the league, as opposed to the individual teams, it was MLS's decision -- and not the Earthquakes -- to decide whether to keep paying Wynne.One source did say that Wynne is still covered under the standard player medical insurance provided by the league.

An MLS spokesperson declined to make a public statement when contacted by ESPN FC.The MLS Players Union also declined to comment.

At this stage, Wynne is still attempting to gain medical clearance to resume playing, and there is no guarantee that he will receive it. Sources added that Wynne sought the opinion of a third doctor, and that doctor declined to clear Wynne as well.

Sources stressed that the club is trying to find a position within the organization, for Wynne -- who still wants to play again -- but it's not likely that any job will pay him near what he would have earned if he was still on the field.

Wynne was drafted first overall by the MetroStars -- soon to be renamed the New York Red Bulls -- in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. He spent parts of two seasons with the Red Bulls before he was traded to Toronto FC midway through the 2007 season. He played parts of three seasons with TFC, but was traded again to the Colorado Rapids just after the start of the 2010 season, and he was part of the Rapids' MLS Cup-winning side that year.

After spending five seasons in Colorado, Wynne was claimed by the Quakes in that year's reentry draft, and has gone on to make 65 appearances over two seasons, picking up three assists.

Wynne has made 310 league and playoff appearances during his MLS career, scoring two goals and picking up 21 assists. He has made five appearances for the U.S. national team, the last of which came in 2011.