, Major League Soccer is going designated player crazy.
On April 1, MLS changed the rules to allow every team to sign two DPs with the option to buy a third.* They also changed the amount a designated player’s salary would count against the salary cap, lowering it from $415,000 to $335,000. A mid-season signing would only count $167,500 against the salary cap.
Thanks to these new rules, the number of designated players in the league has skyrocketed.*The third-DP slot works like a luxury tax. If a team wants to use that third slot, as New York did this week signing Rafael Marquez, they will have to pay $250,000 that would be shared evenly as allocation money with the other MLS clubs that do not have three DPs.
Before 2010, there were 12 designated players in the history of MLS. There were only four on the books when the current season began.
• David Beckham, England: Los Angeles Galaxy
• Juan Pablo Angel, Colombia: New York Red Bulls
• Fredrik Ljungberg, Sweden:Chicago Fire*
• Julian de Guzman, Canada: Toronto FC
Since the season began, eight more have been added.
• Landon Donovan, United States: Los Angeles Galaxy**
• Blaise Nkufo, Switzerland: Seattle Sounders
• Branko Boskovic, Montenegro: D.C. United
• Mista, Spain: Toronto FC
• Thierry Henry, France: New York Red Bulls
• Nery Castillo, Mexico: Chicago Fire
• Alvaro Fernandez, Uruguay: Seattle Sounders
• Rafael Marquez, Mexico: New York Red Bulls*Was traded from Seattle to Chicago last week.
**Became a designated player when the new rules went into effect.
This change is good for the league. Not only does it increase the attention on the league, but it raises the talent level for the entire team.
Angel and Donovan are two of the best players in the league, Beckham was playing very good soccer before shuttling over to AC Milan in an attempt to make England’s World Cup squad and Ljungberg can be very effective if he’s not squabbling with his team.
I think Henry and Fernandez are going to be great players in this league and Marquez and Castillo should sell tickets and help their teams win. (Castillo also brings theuni-brow thunder
For most of the rest, it’s still too early to tell -- Mista, Nkufo and Branko have 7 games between them.
As the MLS continues to expand, it will continue to attract these players (and hopefully more like Fernandez). The better the top-class of players, the better the league gets.
Past MLS designated players
• Cuauthemoc Blanco, Mexico: Chicago Fire (2007-2009)
• Denilson, Brazil: FC Dallas (2007)
• Luciano Emilio, Brazil: D.C. United (2007-2010)
• Claudio Reyna, United States: New York Red Bulls (2007-2008)
• Marcelo Gallardo, Argentina: D.C. United (2008)
• Claudio Lopez, Argentina: Kansas City Wizards (2008)*
• Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Argentina: Columbus Crew (2008-2010)**
• Luis Angel Landin, Mexico: Houston Dynamo (2009-2010)****Was removed from KC’s designated player slot in 2009 and was released from the team at the end of the season. Now a senior player with Colorado.
**Was removed from Columbus’ designated player slot prior to 2010 season and is still a senior player (and All Star) for the Crew.
***Was released mid-season after a dreadful stint with Houston. Now with Atlante in the Mexican First Division.