More Beckhams, Ángels and Ljungbergs may be on their way to Major League Soccer sooner rather than later.
According to commissioner Don Garber, who spoke to reporters at halftime of Thursday’s Sounders-Union match, the league will be making a decision “shortly” on whether to expand the Designated Player rule to two slots per team.
Under the current system, which was enacted before the 2007 season, each club has one DP slot in which a high-profile player counts at the maximum salary under the salary cap; the individual club is then allowed to pay the player any additional amount out of its own pocket.
David Beckham was the first international star to take advantage of the exemption, which was nicknamed the “Beckham Rule.” And though the English superstar’s contributions on the field have been limited due to injuries and loans overseas, he has undoubtedly raised the profile of MLS abroad and has paved the way for other European and Latin American stars to join the American league.
“The program has been successful for us and I think it would make sense for us to look at expanding the Designated Player rule,” Garber said. “We’ve got to take a deep breath at the finalization of our [collective-bargaining] negotiations and get back to addressing that, but we should be able to do that shortly."
Since the DP rule was enacted, 10 clubs have taken advantage of the rule, with 12 players receiving the designation to mixed results. Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Juan Pablo Ángel, Freddie Ljungberg and Guillermo Barros Schelotto have contributed to positive results for their respective clubs. But others had short, tumultuous stays, such as Denílson and Marcelo Gallardo.
As of Thursday night’s First Kick, five DPs are on the books for MLS clubs.