In a meeting yesterday of the MLSE board of directors, Toronto FC got approval to pursue a DP (which unfortunately in this instance stands for Designated Player). Essentially, this is the “Beckham Rule” whereby teams can sign a superstar for whatever money they want, and only about $400k of which counts against the cap. The roster rules in Major League Soccer are complex to say the least (a beginner’s guide) and have been developed to gradually increase the quality of the league while improving and expanding a large base of players for the US National Team. The consistent, decent showing of the US Men’s team at World Cups and Gold Cups, added to the estimated $40 million bids needed for the next batch of MLS expansion contenders show that the League’s policies have been successful in achieving the aforementioned goals. The system is by no means perfect as Toronto FC supporters can attest to, having had to endure important fixtures with the majority of the squad away on international duty, for instance, based on the league roster requirements.
As for the designated player specifically, three of the four semi-finalists in this year’s playoffs have a DP – Schelotto at Columbus, Blanco at Chicago and Angel at New York (but I’m not a big fan of any of that lot, so it’s “Come On Salt Lake City” for me!). It seems that the right player in the right environment can be a big time help for a “nearly there” team. Toronto is that team. If TFC had a solid finisher, a 15-20 goals a season man, some of those losses last year would be draws, and those infuriating draws would have been turned into triple the points. At this point I’m saying, “Aim high”. Set our sights on a world class striker – MLSE has the cash – and see what we can get. Admittedly, the plastic pitch and Canada’s lack of international cachet probably make it difficult. There has already been a long and distinguished (ed- “so’s my Johnson”) list of players linked with TFC and plenty of ‘my friend has a friend’ style rumors. With yesterday’s news this is sure to continue and I for one am glad of it.