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Rafa Marquez to MLS is great; but a quick word of caution

Mexican captain Rafael Marquez ... all indications say he'll be introduced as New York's third DP on Tuesday.
Mexican captain Rafael Marquez ... all indications say he'll be introduced as New York's third DP on Tuesday.

The Red Bulls have called a news conference for Tuesday to introduce their newest (and third) Designated Player. They haven’t said publicly who it is – but I’d wager a full case of delicious Pacifico Cerveza that his name will rhyme with Mafa Raquez.

The amount of media pop will not reach Thierry Henry proportions along traditional media platforms, but this will be huge news on Spanish Language channels. As captain of Mexico’s national team, this is a great “get” for New York and MLS.

I do love the attention all these DPs are getting for MLS, and I love the thought of seeing a truly quality team finally fill up the (and potentially light up) the land’s most influential media market.

But let’s make no mistake about one thing: the arms race is on. And we should all be slightly weary of where it will all lead.

New York will be the first to exercise the right to have three DPs on the field. Meanwhile, plenty of teams around the league still don’t have one.

Don’t think for a second that Los Angeles will sit idly by for long. AEG (the Galaxy ownership group) is very aggressive in these matters. The leaders at AEG were the prime movers in getting the league to adopt a DP rule, with David Beckham’s impending signing back in 2007 acting as a pressure point to make it happen sooner rather than later.

So, once L.A. catches up – and, again, they will – then we’ll have two, three or maybe four teams with big name DPs filling up the roster while everyone else copes with none or perhaps one DP-lite.

And it may work for the league. Real Salt Lake, after all, won a title with no DPs. So, maybe that will continue to be a viable option going forward. But I’m not sure.

Don’t forget, RSL won the title with a “No DP’s allowed” salary structure at a time when the rules allowed only one, with the possibility of gaining another. Now, you can have two and even a third for paying what amounts to a small luxury tax ($250,000 to be distributed among the other clubs).

So, I have a feeling the RSL model won’t work for long, although Jason Kreis’ team is good enough that they’ll be contenders this year, for sure.

This could easily create a rich vs. no-so-rich divide – and I’m not sure that’s a great thing for the sport.

It’s all unchartered waters for this league, and I’m not sure it will be a bad thing at all. I’m just saying, let’s all keep a close eye on this.