MLS Designated Player Rule Change
Major League Soccer announced today that there will be a tweak to the MLS Designated Player rules for the 2012 season. DPs currently have a maximum salary budget charge of $335,000 but a new rule would allow teams to sign designated players 20 years and younger with a maximum salary budget charge of $150,000 and designated players aged 21-23 would have a maximum salary budget charge of $200,000. MLS Executive Vice President of Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin said that multiple MLS teams have been asking for this kind of change and it makes a lot of sense. While our study of players on supplemental rosters does not include every MLS player under the age of 24, it does include the majority. These players are primed to contribute over time but also need time to develop. It is a lot for a team to invest $335,000 of a $2.65M salary budget towards one player who may or may not work out. Right now the Fire might not have any player that hits the salary budget at more than $200,000.
The one odd glitch in the new rule is that the essentially U-20 and U-23 designated player adjustment only applies to players that were acquired via a transfer fee. If Chicago wanted to sign 22 year-old Sean Johnson or 21 year-old Cristian Nazarit to one of these contracts, they would be unable to because Sean Johnson signed with MLS for the MLS SuperDraft and Cristian Nazarit signed with the Chicago Fire on a free transfer. It's odd but the new rule is in place to allow teams to acquire a certain kind of player they weren't acquiring before. If players like Cristian Nazarit and Sean Johnson are already here, clearly the rule is not meant for them. It's meant for a new generation of MLS player. This is an exciting day for the future of MLS.
After the break, Eddie Johnson is signing with MLS and could end up on the Fire and how a goal scored in Holland might mean the end of Marco Pappa's time with the team
UPDATE to Eddie Johnson story: Steve Goff says not so fast...
Eddie Johnson In?
In the same news conference as the update on the designated player change, MLS announced they had signed USMNT international Eddie Johnson. He will go through the Allocation Order and that could mean he is headed Chicago's way.
4. Chicago Fire
The speculation is Chivas USA has already passed up on multiple USMNT players through the Allocation Order, why would Eddie Johnson appeal to them? Juan Pablo Angel has allegedly joined Chivas USA now that Robbie Keane signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Goats should be set up top for now. Houston just added Honduran International Carlo Costly to bolster their forward ranks so they might be tapped out budget-wise and positional-wise. Toronto FC has forwards designated player Danny Koevermans, Joao Plata, Javier Martina, Ryan Johnson, Peri Marosevic, and Nick Soolsma that have all put in big minutes or contributed goals. What would Toronto FC do with yet another forward? Meanwhile in Chicago forwards Diego Chaves, Orr Barouch, and Cristian Nazarit have resulted in Frank Klopas turning to Dominic Oduro in a single forward formation. The Fire definitely have the cash to spend on Johnson as well. Chivas USA should be on the clock now to decide whether or not to take Johnson. MLS' Durbin said the American forward should match up with a team by the end of business day Friday if not sooner.
Marco Pappa Out?
If Eddie Johnson does fall to Chicago, it unfortunately might just help to make it not such a damper for the departure of Marco Pappa from the Fire. As we posted on Monday, strong reports are coming out of Guatemala and the Netherlands that Pappa could be on the move to Dutch side FC Twente. It appears that much of Twente's interest in Pappa lies in the ability to transfer Costa Rican International Bryan Ruiz away from the club. EPL teams Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have been the main rumored targets with Tottenham taking the lead. Ruiz has been keen on making it to White Hart Lane and manager Harry Redknapp was even scheduled to catch a FC Twente match over the weekend until he learned that Ruiz would be on the bench. Ruiz managed to score as a substitute anyway and Redknapp rescheduled for today where FC Twente took on Portuguese side Benfica in UEFA Champions League play. The Costa Rican might have sealed his transfer to England when he scored the game's 2-2 tie-maker in the 80th minute on a header.
The rumors do not come at a good time as the Fire have four games between now and the end of the August 31st, the close of the European transfer window. Since Tottenham's signing of Ruiz might depend on their ability to move Croatian Luka Modric, Chicago fans could be sitting on pins and needles for the next two weeks. We'll keep you posted on all this and more as D.C. United comes to Toyota Park this Thursday.