MLS releases new DP rules for young players

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday new Designated Player rules for players aged 20-years-old or younger and players aged 21 to 23-years-old.

Under the new rules, which will go into effect in the 2012 season, players in the first group will count as $150,000 against the salary cap while players in the second group will count as $200,000 against the salary cap. Under the previous rules all designated players counted for $335,000 against the salary cap.

MLS executive vice president of competition and player relations Todd Durbin told reporters, “If we want to continue our growth…we need to be identifying top young players that can come in and grow in the league and be long-term stars in Major League Soccer for years to come.”

The aim of the new rules is to encourage teams to take a chance on investing in younger foreign-based players. For example, Fabian Castillo, the 19-year-old FC Dallas signing, has designated player status despite being paid only $42,000 a year largely because the transfer fees associated with acquiring him from Deportivo Cali. Under the new rules, FC Dallas would have saved $185,000 in salary cap space.

“Fairly regularly, particularly over the course of the last 12-to-18 months, we’ve consistently heard from teams that they’ve identified players like this,” Durbin said. “Teams have been reluctant to enter into that market given the speculative nature of signing young players. We now truly have the ability to get into that market for young players and grow stars for the future of Major League Soccer.”

Although largely aimed at bringing young foreign talent into MLS, the new rules do not exclude American-born players. While Generation adidas, Homegrown Players and players already in MLS will not be covered under the new rules, young American players returning to the US to play in MLS could be covered.

The new rule will be of particular interest to Union fans with the signing of Freddy Adu. According to SBI, “21-year-old Freddy Adu could wind up with a young DP deal next season depending on how the Philadelphia Union and MLS break down the payment of his contract.”

This possibility may explain why the Union have not yet made clear Adu’s Designated Player status.

A tweet from SBI stated, “New young DP discount rule CAN NOT be used on players currently in MLS who aren’t already DPs.” Another tweet from SBI explained,”Philly&MLS still sorting out how Adu salary will B handled in ’12. Union culd pay down w/allocation+make him max salary or make him young DP.” Yet another tweet from SBI suggested, “Adu on a three-year deal. MLS can decide if it wants to make him retroactively eligible.”


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