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MLS Changes Designated Player Rule, Designed To Encourage Signing Youngsters

Major League Soccer officially unveiled a change to the Designated Player Rule which is designed to encourage teams to sign younger players currently playing abroad. Under the new rule, players 20 and younger will count $150,000 against the salary cap and players 21-23 will count $200,000. Currently, all DPs have a maximum salary cap number of $335,000, but that can be paid down to as low as $150,000 using allocation dollars. The young players' cap hit can not be paid down any further using allocation dollars.

FC Dallas' Fabian Castillo and the New England Revolution's Milton Caraglio are the only two DPs currently in MLS that would have qualified for the lower cap hit if this rule had been in place this season. Theoretically, both players could qualify next year. It is not currently known how much either player is scheduled to make in salary in 2012.

Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President of Competition and Player Relations, said the rule is designed to encourage teams to take more chances when looking at players abroad. 

"South America, Central America and Mexico will be fertile ground for us," Durbin said. "Over the last 12-18 months we have consistently heard from teams that they have identified players like this."

Durbin also noted that this rule will not be applied to players who came to MLS without requiring transfer fees. So a player like Juan Agudelo, who came up through the New York Red Bulls academy and was signed as a Home Grown Player, would not be eligible to be signed at a reduced cap hit. Durbin said there are already mechanisms in place that allow for players like that to be signed, and that this rule is aimed at players who the league has not had as much chance to evaluate.