Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stay the course

With the end of the 2007 season in sight, there has been a lot of talk recently about MLS and a possible second designated player slot for each team. Since MLS announced the DP rule and the three-year window that accompanied it, I thought that was a good amount of time to see if the rule would work.

But now it seems like five months has been enough time for the league to reconsider their original plans. I've wanted to write something on the matter for someone but other stories have surfaced across the web that have made valid points on the topic.

ESPN's Jeff Carlisle said some teams are clamoring for an extra spot while others want to give it more time before re-assessing the rule. What strikes me is that the league didn't come out and say that they would stick to their three-year plan and pretty much left the door open to re-evaluate the rule.'s Pat Walsh, meanwhile, had a really well-written column on the matter a couple of weeks back. He makes a good case against expanding the rule.

As far as my own thoughts on the matter, I may still write something for the PE in the coming weeks. I just think it's impossible to know the true effect the rule has had when only five players have been brought in under the DP rule. Juan Pablo Angel and Cuauhtemoc Blanco have injected some world-class talent to their clubs, Claudio Reyna and Denilson have not lived up to their clubs' hopes while David Beckham seized the world's attention but injuries have slowed him considerably.

On the field, DPs have played no role for the four best teams in the league as DC United, Houston and New England have not used their spots while Chivas USA (stupidly) traded theirs away. Angel's and Reyna's team is in the playoffs and Blanco's is getting there while Denilson's is in with no help from the World Cup winner.

When the Galaxy got Beckham, one of the first things I thought of was how the Galaxy would be able to keep Landon Donovan and Beckham. I expected the Galaxy to have traded for a spot by now but I always thought that somehow, someway he'd be in a Galaxy uniform next season no matter what. Turns out the Galaxy might not have to trade for a DP slot in order to keep him after all.

And here I thought we were past the days of MLS' knee-jerk reactions.


Anonymous said...

The entire league has benefited from the addition of David Beckham. There's virtually no other player out there that would have the effect that Beckham's addition has had on the entire league. Seems sort of disengenuous for the owners of the smaller markets to balk at adding a second DP slot which the Galaxy needs more than any other team, especially given how they "used" David Beckham to sell their own tickets and gave the Galaxy the schedule from hell. Raising the salary cap and granting an additional DP slot seems the right thing to do and I think it would be good for the league.

Anonymous said...

MLS seems to want to grow faster than it should. I miss the days when MLS was taking things slow and smartly, now it seems like all the league wants to do is expand as fast a possible because they fear if they don't do it now they never will. At times it just seems like desperation to me. Stick with one DP for now and wait for the three years to see where it goes. There's no rush, MLS is here to stay, there's no need to be th EPL in two years.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Denilson's deal, he's more of an asterisk DP. He's getting paid a prorated amount of around a million or so dollars, which makes his signing less expensive than the other DPs. Also, from what I understand he's signed for a club option for next year, which FC Dallas will undoubtedly not pick up.

He's basically an experiment gone wrong from a franchise that didn't want to jump totally into the DP waters.

Anonymous said...

I'v read both articles and both have their points.

personally I tend to side with those who urge for caution (ie at least 1 more year to see how the experiment will go on before changing the rules in favour mainly of the "big" teams and attractice locations)

and that comes for a Galaxy Fan

Ben - good things need time

Anonymous said...

sorry I forgot to add:

I'd prefer that the MLS would raise the overall $cap , specially for the lowest paid players and the team and not a single player.


diane said...

This is something that's caused me quite a bit of confusion as a new MLS follower, part of the "Beckham effect". I agree with (most of) the first comment...I'm really happy for the Galaxy and League that Beckham is here, aside from his skill and class on the pitch, and his drawing power off, he's a generous mentor for younger players, and huge booster for teammates. Blanco and Angel have been spectacular, both are a treat to watch and appear to have raised the level of play around them.

BUT, I've never understood how the whole salary/team-parity concept was not blown apart by allowing even one DP within the current structure. If I'm correct it already creates an imbalance if the team with the richest, or most free-spending, owners can spend whatever it takes to get the player they want, while teams with less resources are obviously more limited. If there are two DP's it seems like it would magnify that disparity.

I know that money doesn't guarantee a successful player or team, as you've described. But odds are that you would get at least one major impact player, if not both, if you could spend freely on two DP's. Then there's the income generated by high visibility players that require the greater investment, which would...well, just make the rich clubs richer (nothing new in the world, but something I thought MLS was trying to balance during its formative years).

Unless I've got all that wrong, adding a second DP slot would ensure the unfair advantage that the initial salary structure was supposed to prevent.

From a newcomers' point of view, I would instead raise the salary and payroll caps...significantly.

If the league thinks that team resources are equivalent enough that a second (or even first?) DP would be possible for every club, then they all have a lot more money to spend on players. Widening the already crazy divide between players at the top and bottom of your payroll (the question of who deserves what being a separate issue) doesn't bode well for team morale, and the lowest salaries are shameful at this point.

elopingcamel said...

I gotta agree with Ben about raising the overall salary cap and adding better depth to the rosters (as opposed to one big hit-or-miss guy. Some of these developmental players might actually develop if they didn't have to get a second job to survive. One DP is plenty, and The Galaxy have had plenty of time to trade for that 2nd spot, but seemed far more interested in trading for beans (referencing Jack and the Beanstalk).

L.B. said...

The amount of money some MLS players get paid is a joke.

I was talking to a Chivas USA regular about his pay and he said his mom helps pay his bills because he can't afford to live on his salary.

It's the rank-and-file guys who get screwed over by this whole DP thing, the guys who could probably make a whole lot more money doing something outside of soccer but choose to stay in the league.

I'd support an increase in pay across the board over an added DP slot any day of the week.

glen said...

Pay increase to the lower spectrum should not be an option. No player should be making less than 30-35,0000 a year (so they can at least pay rent and eat). If I remember correctly some of the players are making roughly 17,000 and you can't pay rent in California on that amount and I'm sure it's like that in other cities across the country. Second job anyone? As far as the DP rule, I want other top players in the league, but it might grow to fast and start to be a financial problem for some of the teams and we don't want them to be turned over constantly.

Michael said...

diane: I think that allowing only one DP minimizes disparity. After all, look at this past season and the way the playoffs are stacking up; I seriously doubt that a team featuring a DP will win even one trophy this year.

I think that allowing two DPs now would be a huge mistake, and am in the camp that would rather see better wages for development players. Guys like Robbie Findley and Adam Cristman are playing like seasoned pros but getting little better than minimum wage. If MLS can demonstrate that incoming athletes can get exposure and make decent wages, more young Americans will play soccer, and play it domestically.

Eric PZ said...

Even though I'm a long-time Galaxy fan, I really wish there was more cap space spread out over the entire team to give more depth to the squad. However, with the expansion we are looking at in MLS the next couple of seasons, I don't think the talent pool is available to bring in 3 new teams. Already, we are seeing players decide to sign with USL teams or go to Europe because they'd make more doing that. The salary cap has to be increased significantly before anyone can even think of a second DP player.

As you said, the top teams this season don't have DP slots filled. You have to believe then that it's because they have less of a drop in talent when they go to the bench. How this will play in the playoffs, we'll see next month. But for the Supporters Shield, you have some pretty solid evidence against DPs.

Nathan said...

I've been thinking about this all season and while I see both sides, I'm more on Pat Walsh's side.

But its really not about just the DP rule, as others have noted.

I think we need:

(1) Raise the lowest paid players up to $35,000/year. This is peanuts. Seriously. The reason for doing this is obvious. What is lowest paid professional in the League office making?

(2) Raise the salary cap. I don't know a number for sure, but I'd like to get it up to $5 million.

(3) If you do that you can raise the roster limit to about 32-35 players. Too many teams have their season's derailed because of injuries. With the increase in games from the SuperLiga, participation in regional tournaments, and the increasing number of friendlies guys are playing in more games than ever. We need more quality players on the roster to deal with giving people rest and picking up slack from injuries.

(4) Increase the number of YI's and SI's by at least one, if you raise the roster limit. This will address "dilution of talent" issues.

(5) Put some kind of league resources into helping clubs develop their youth programs and scouting systems. It is criminal that MLS loses out on players like Edgar Castillo. (Obviously you can't do the scouting for the teams, but there has to be a way to maximize the talent search.)

(6)After you do all that you can figure out if you need to add a second DP slot.

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