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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Has The “Beckham Rule” Worked For MLS?

Written by on August 6, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Posted in MLS

In years to come when someone sits down to write the definitive history of MLS, 2012 will almost certainly be remembered as the season when the “Designated Player” snowball became more like an avalanche.

There have been 53 designated players in MLS over the last six seasons and 31 of them are playing this season. Of the 31 over half (16) are in their….

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4 responses to “Has The “Beckham Rule” Worked For MLS?”

  1. Andre says:

    Sure there have been cases where what looked like a great move turned out to be a bust but for the most part I think the DP flops were poor choices by teams that should have known better.

    Did anyone really think Nery Castillo, Julian de Guzman, Frank Rost, or Luis Angel Landin were worthy of those slots? Were teams abroad likely to pounce on them if MLS clubs didn’t DP them?

    You can say this about almost anything but whether or not the designated player works comes down to how teams’ front offices use those slots.

  2. John Bladen says:

    In that the purpose of the rule was to bring media attention to a league that was being almost entirely ignored, I think the answer to the question is “yes”.

    It hasn’t directly improved play (no more than an aging, slowfooted and seemingly disinterested Carlos Valderrama did in the early years, at any rate). But it was never supposed to.

    I’m no fan of the rule, but I understand why they did it. I’m not sure the expansion of DP slots is actually a good thing. The major benefit came with the first marquee signing (or two). GMs who spend $750-1.5m on DPs who have no name recognition and likely won’t help the team’s fortunes have defeated their own strategy, IMO.

    No-one should pretend it’s about improving play. It isn’t. It’s about media attention and jersey sales. Having Henry and Beckham in the league has helped on that front. Who knows if having them in their respective squads has stifled (or prevented) the development of skilled domestic players who might have emerged in their places?

  3. RUBICON says:

    This issue vexes me.

    Logically, the addition of world class players should make those around them better. If only by the fact that they practice together every day and you would assume any defender going against the likes of a Di Vaio or Henry would improve somewhat.

    But then you see numerous instances of the above theory get disproved (i.e. Agudelo’s transfer to Chivas when he could have obviously learned tons from Henry, NYRB awful defending even though Marquez is on the books and the practice against Henry).

    *Not to mention the most obvious fact which is Seattle have been playing the most attractive and technical (euro style) soccer for the past 2 seasons with Montero, Zakuani, Alonso, Rosales, etc.

  4. John Bladen says:


    thanks for bringing up the Sounders… to me, they have done a wonderful job of demonstrating to other clubs why they shouldn’t bother with expensive DPs… even though they did dally with one or two themselvs, of course.

    Ljunberg never looked interested in MLS. Nkufo looked pretty good until he was injured (a short spell). But they seem to be doing just fine without a DP… just haven’t progressed through the playoffs very far. Given the attractive brand of football they play, that surprises me somewhat.

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