Time for Silly Season

As Euro 2012 moves forward and World Cup qualifying gets underway, we are nearing the time of year when MLS teams become linked to foreign stars and future Designated Players.  As the calendar starts to creep towards July, the transfer window begins to open for European based players and some will look to the New World for a roster spot.   This is the time of year when players like Beckham, Henry and others made their MLS debut. Teams have been willing to spend big dollars on big names for the Summer home stretch.

It remains to be seen whether the league will make similar moves in 2012.  Does MLS still need a big name player in order to make a splash?  Is there a player of the caliber of Beckham, Blanco or Henry that is willing to make the move to the United States?  Will the league’s television partners pressure the league to bring prominent DPs to the States?

Recall that the league  significantly changed its DP rule last August with an eye towards younger DPs.  Boiled to its essence, the amended DP rule allows teams that sign players 20 and under that would count as DPs while significantly lessening the salary budget.  There is a similar reduction for players 23 and under.  In real terms, the salary budget “hit” for the youngest DP’s will be only $125,000 while the older group counts at $200,00.  This significantly reduces the percentage of salary budget taken up by younger designated players while theoretically providing teams with extra motivation to pursue rising stars around the globe.  The new rule will specifically not apply to American and Canadian players.

So will the new rule prevent teams from making the big move?  Does the financial incentive still exist?