With Colorado Rapid’s signing of Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres, each of the nineteen MLS clubs has one Designated Player (DP). The DP rule was introduced into the league in 2006 allowing teams to sign up to three players to larger contracts with little impact to each team’s salary cap. If a DP is signed at the beginning of the season, only $368,750 of the player’s salary counts against the $2,950,000 budget each team is permitted to spend each season (players signed mid-season only have $175,00 of the salary count against the salary cap). This rule allowed LA Galaxy to sign David Beckham and catapult the league into the international spotlight.
In 2012, MLS has modified the DP rule which accounts for the age of the DP signing. DP between ages 21-23 only have $200,000 of their salary count against the salary cap. If a DP is younger than 21, $150,000 of the salary counts against the cap. This new rule encouraged clubs to sign younger talent who might otherwise be signed by foreign leagues.
Including Gabriel Torres and the recent announcement of Omar Gonzalez as the third DP for the Galaxy, thirty-three players are currently signed to DP contracts. The MLS Players Union released updated salary information on August 1st which allows the public to view salary information for each player in the league. According to this salary guide, MLS DP’s are set to make over $33,014,236 in 2013 (the guide does not supply information with the newly signed Arevalo Rios, Gabriel Torres, and Omar Gonzalez). MLSsoccer.com also states there are currently eight DP players from Argentina and four from the United States.