Designated Player Rule
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Designated Player Rule
Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy's former Designated Player

The Designated Player Rule, nicknamed the Beckham Rule,[1] was adopted as part of the salary cap regulations of Major League Soccer for the 2007 season. The rule allows each MLS franchise sign up to three players that would be considered outside the team's salary cap (either by offering the player higher wages or by paying a transfer fee for the player), allowing MLS teams to compete for star players in the international soccer market. Clubs have the option to use allocation money against a player's contract, so to avoid a player with a Designated Player level salary using one of the club's Designated Player slots. As of December 2015, there have been 114 designated players in the MLS.

The rule is informally named after David Beckham, in anticipation of MLS teams signing lucrative deals with internationally recognized players of Beckham's caliber.[1][2] Beckham was the first player signed under this rule, signing a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy with guaranteed annual salary of $6.5 million.[3][4]


The team salary cap was estimated to be around US$1.9 million in 2006,[5] was $2.1 million in 2007, and was raised to $2.3 million for the 2008 season.[6][7] As part of the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLS and the MLS Players' Union, the 2010 salary cap was $2.55 million, with an automatic five percent increase each year until the expiration of the agreement at the end of the 2014 season.

Under the 2007 rule:

  • The rule expires at the end of the 2009 season, and must be renewed then or allowed to lapse.
  • For each Designated Player, $400,000[7][8] of his salary is charged to the salary cap and paid by the league, with any remaining salary being paid by the team's owner. This value was increased for the 2009 season to $415,000.
  • Prior to the 2007 season, there were three players whose salary exceeded $400,000. These players were Landon Donovan, Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson. According to the rule, these players were grandfathered in for the 2007 season, and the exemption was extended after the 2007 season, with the league planning to review the issue at a future date. It was possible that the league would be required to renegotiate these players' contracts or consider them Designated Players. However, prior to the start of the 2008 season, Johnson moved to Fulham of the Premier League,[9] while following Dwayne De Rosario's signing by Toronto FC in January 2009, Ruiz was released by the club and left MLS to play for Olimpia Asunción. This left Donovan as the lone player whose 2009 salary remained grandfathered under the exemption provision. However, there were several more players whose guaranteed salary exceeded the Designated Player amount, but whose salary cap expense was actually lower than their true salary due to the allocation rule. These players include Shalrie Joseph ($450,000), Christian Gomez ($430,000), Dwayne De Rosario ($425,750), and Taylor Twellman ($420,000).
  • Each team initially had one Designated Player spot, but could trade their Designated Spot to another team; teams were allowed a maximum of two Designated Players.
  • Only $325,000 of a team's second Designated Player counted against the salary cap, which was increased to $335,000 in 2009.[7]

The 2010 changes:[10]

  • The rule has no expiration date.
  • For each Designated Player, $335,000 of his salary is charged to the salary cap and paid by the league ($167,500 for DP players joining during the MLS summer transfer window), with any remaining salary being paid by the team's owner. This amount is halved for Designated Players signed in the middle of the season. The salary cap value of Designated Players can also be reduced using allocation money. Finally, teams whose Designated Players transfer abroad in the middle of a season can recoup part of the Designated Players' salary cap value.
  • Landon Donovan is no longer grandfathered into the rule and must be considered a Designated Player.
  • Each team is allowed two Designated Player spots, and they can no longer trade their Designated Player spots. The New York Red Bulls will receive $70,000 in allocation money in return for the nullification of their 2007 trade with Chivas USA for an additional Designated Player spot. This means that both New York and Chivas USA will have two Designated Player spots for the 2010 season.
  • Teams can pay a $250,000 "luxury tax" for the right to sign a third Designated Player. This $250,000 would be distributed equally to all MLS teams that have not signed a third Designated Player in the form of allocation money.

The 2012 changes:[11]

Starting with the 2012 season, the rule was changed with respect to younger players. MLS announced the changes in August 2011 after clubs expressed concern about signing young international players with no guarantees that they would develop into stars.

  • Designated Players over the age of 23 will carry a salary budget charge of $350,000, unless the player joins his club in the middle of the season, in which case his budget charge will be $175,000.
  • Designated Players 21-23 years old count as $200,000 against the club's salary budget.
  • Designated Players 20 years old or younger count as $150,000 against the club's salary budget.
  • The budget charge for the midseason signing of a young Designated Player (23 years old and younger) is $150,000 and this amount cannot be lowered with allocation funds.
  • Clubs will not have to buy the third DP roster slot to accommodate Designated Players 23 years old and younger.
  • Age of player is determined by year (not date) of birth.

The maximum budget charge for Designated Players over age 23 was increased to $368,750 for 2013, $387,500 in 2014, $436,250 in 2015, $457,500 in 2016, and $480,625 in 2017. The budget charge for those who join during the midseason transfer window has remained at one-half of the full-season cap charge since the inception of the rule. The budget charges for younger players have not changed since 2012.[12]


The rule is informally named after soccer star David Beckham, in anticipation of MLS teams signing lucrative deals with internationally recognized players of Beckham's caliber.[1][2] Beckham was the first player to be signed under this rule, signing a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy worth up to $250 million over five years, with direct guaranteed compensation from MLS and Galaxy at $6.5 million a year.[3] The rest of Beckham's increased earnings would come from Beckham regaining the entirety of his image rights, of which Real Madrid had owned fifty percent, effectively doubling his existing endorsement income, as well as new endorsement deals, a share of jersey sales, bonuses, etc.[4]

Current Designated Players

As of May 10, 2018[13]
Year signed as DP Player Nation Current club 2018 Guaranteed compensation[14]
2012 Higuaín, FedericoFederico Higuaín  ARG Columbus Crew SC $1,100,000
2013 Alonso, OsvaldoOsvaldo Alonso  CUB Seattle Sounders FC $1,141,667
2013 Valeri, DiegoDiego Valeri  ARG Portland Timbers $2,380,000
2013 Dempsey, ClintClint Dempsey  USA Seattle Sounders FC $1,650,000
2014 Bradley, MichaelMichael Bradley  USA Toronto FC $6,500,000
2014 Villa, DavidDavid Villa  ESP New York City FC $5,610,000
2014 Piatti, IgnacioIgnacio Piatti  ARG Montreal Impact $4,713,333
2014 Adi, FanendoFanendo Adi  NGR Portland Timbers $1,933,333
2015 Altidore, JozyJozy Altidore  USA Toronto FC $5,000,000
2015 Giovinco, SebastianSebastian Giovinco  ITA Toronto FC $7,115,556
2015 dos Santos, GiovaniGiovani dos Santos  MEX LA Galaxy $6,000,000
2016 Wright-Phillips, BradleyBradley Wright-Phillips  ENG New York Red Bulls $1,635,000
2016 Gruezo, CarlosCarlos Gruezo  ECU FC Dallas $730,750
2016 Gashi, ShkëlzenShkëlzen Gashi  ALB Colorado Rapids $1,668,750
2016 Espinoza, RogerRoger Espinoza  HND Sporting Kansas City $900,000
2016 Howard, TimTim Howard  USA Colorado Rapids $2,475,000
2016 Lodeiro, NicolásNicolás Lodeiro  URY Seattle Sounders FC $2,302,500
2016 Bedoya, AlejandroAlejandro Bedoya  USA Philadelphia Union $1,266,250
2016 Kljestan, SachaSacha Kljestan  USA Orlando City $1,100,000
2017 Wondolowski, ChrisChris Wondolowski  USA San Jose Earthquakes $800,000
2017 Almirón, MiguelMiguel Almirón  PAR Atlanta United FC $2,297,000
2017 Nikoli?, NemanjaNemanja Nikoli?  HUN Chicago Fire $1,906,333
2017 Elis, AlberthAlberth Elis  HND Houston Dynamo $650,340
2017 Rusnák, AlbertAlbert Rusnák  SVK Real Salt Lake $927,821
2017 Colmán, CristianCristian Colmán  PAR FC Dallas $585,000
2017 Alessandrini, RomainRomain Alessandrini  FRA LA Galaxy $1,869,996
2017 Martínez, JosefJosef Martínez  VEN Atlanta United FC $1,387,318
2017 Blanco, SebastiánSebastián Blanco  ARG Portland Timbers $1,375,008
2017 Shea, BrekBrek Shea  USA Vancouver Whitecaps FC $745,000
2017 Moralez, MaximilianoMaximiliano Moralez  ARG New York City FC $2,000,000
2017 Schweinsteiger, BastianBastian Schweinsteiger  GER Chicago Fire $6,100,000
2017 Savarino, JeffersonJefferson Savarino  VEN Real Salt Lake $398,688
2017 Qazaishvili, ValeriValeri Qazaishvili  GEO San Jose Earthquakes $1,454,042
2017 Martínez, TomásTomás Martínez  ARG Houston Dynamo $487,929
2017 dos Santos, JonathanJonathan dos Santos  MEX LA Galaxy $2,000,000
2017 Santos, PedroPedro Santos  POR Columbus Crew SC $794,600
2017 Arriola, PaulPaul Arriola  USA D.C. United $639,000
2018 Dielna, ClaudeClaude Dielna  FRA New England Revolution $909,861
2018 Dwyer, DomDom Dwyer  USA Orlando City $1,383,333
2018 Vela, CarlosCarlos Vela  MEX Los Angeles FC $6,292,500
2018 Rossi, DiegoDiego Rossi  URU Los Angeles FC $1,052,000
2018 Croizet, YohanYohan Croizet  FRA Sporting Kansas City $680,004
2018 Medina, JesúsJesús Medina  PRY New York City FC $770,833
2018 Colmán, JosuéJosué Colmán  PRY Orlando City $150,000
2018 Barco, EzequielEzequiel Barco  ARG Atlanta United FC $1,425,000
2018 Taïder, SaphirSaphir Taïder  ALG Montreal Impact $800,000
2018 Valenzuela, MiltonMilton Valenzuela  ARG Columbus Crew SC $313,300
2018 Gutiérrez, FelipeFelipe Gutiérrez  CHI Sporting Kansas City $1,650,000
2018 Mosquera, SantiagoSantiago Mosquera  COL FC Dallas $541,400
2018 Gamarra, AlejandroAlejandro Gamarra  PRY New York Red Bulls $709,091
2018 Do?kal, Bo?ekBo?ek Do?kal  CZE Philadelphia Union $1,714,286
2018 Waston, KendallKendall Waston  CRC Vancouver Whitecaps FC $604,167
2018 Horta, AndréAndré Horta  POR Los Angeles FC $n/a
2018 Quintero, DarwinDarwin Quintero  COL Minnesota United FC $1,650,000


  • L - Player is away on loan
  • Chart indicates when players signed their current Designated Player contract, not necessarily their first year in MLS.
  • Other players in MLS may also be paid a salary that takes them above the Designated Player threshold, but they have had their salary reduced against the salary cap using General or Targeted Allocation Money.[15]
  • Player salaries include compensation from their MLS contract, not including any bonuses or compensation from contracts with individual teams or their affiliates.

Club DP history

As of August 22, 2017[16]


  • The below list indicates players who have had their contract assigned as a Designated Player (DP) contract during their time in MLS. Players may have not always have had a DP contract, or have later had their contract negotiated below a DP level. Similarly, some players have been in MLS whose salary has been at a DP level, but the club has opted to bring their salary below the DP threshold using General Allocation Money or Targeted Allocation Money. Their listed "Years as DP" indicates what seasons they were active as a DP for that club only. Players in bold are currently signed to a DP contract by their club.
  • Former MLS sides Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were dissolved before the introduction of the Designated Player Rule.

Atlanta United FC

Player Previous club Years as DP
Argentina Héctor Villalba Argentina San Lorenzo 2017
Paraguay Miguel Almirón Argentina Lanús 2017-
Venezuela Josef Martínez Italy Torino 2017-
Argentina Ezequiel Barco Argentina Independiente 2018-

Chicago Fire

Chivas USA (defunct)

Colorado Rapids

Columbus Crew SC

D.C. United

FC Dallas

Houston Dynamo

LA Galaxy

Los Angeles FC

Player Previous club Years as DP
Mexico Carlos Vela Spain Real Sociedad 2018-
Uruguay Diego Rossi Uruguay Peñarol 2018-
Portugal André Horta Portugal Benfica 2018-

Minnesota United FC

Player Previous club Years as DP
Colombia Darwin Quintero Mexico América 2018-

Montreal Impact

New England Revolution

New York City FC

Player Previous club Years as DP
Spain David Villa Spain Atlético Madrid 2014-
England Frank Lampard England Manchester City 2015-2016
Italy Andrea Pirlo Italy Juventus 2015-2017
Argentina Maximiliano Moralez Mexico León 2017-
Paraguay Jesús Medina Paraguay Libertad 2018-

New York Red Bulls

Orlando City SC

Philadelphia Union

Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake

San Jose Earthquakes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sporting Kansas City

Toronto FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Past and present Designated Players by country

Number Country Players
28 Argentina Argentina Ezequiel Barco, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Hernán Bernardello, Claudio Bieler, Sebastián Blanco, Milton Caraglio, Mauro Diaz, Fabián Espíndola, Marcelo Gallardo, Federico Higuaín, Sebastián Jaime, Matías Laba, Claudio López, Cristian Maidana, Juan Manuel Martinez, Tomás Martínez, Lucas Melano, Javier Morales, Maximiliano Moralez, Lucas Ontivero, Matías Pérez García, Ignacio Piatti, Juan Edgardo Ramírez, Mauro Rosales, Diego Valeri, Gonzalo Verón, Milton Valenzuela, Héctor Villalba
20 United States United States Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Dom Dwyer, Maurice Edu, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Howard, Eddie Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Claudio Reyna, Brek Shea, Chris Wondolowski, Graham Zusi
9 Colombia Colombia Juan Pablo Ángel, Fabián Castillo, Diego Chará, Andrés Ramiro Escobar, David Ferreira, Mauro Manotas, Fredy Montero, Santiago Mosquera, Darwin Quintero
9 Mexico Mexico Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Omar Bravo, Nery Castillo, Luis Ángel Landín, Rafael Márquez, Giovani dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos, Erick Torres, Carlos Vela
8 Brazil Brazil Denílson, Luciano Emilio, Geovanni, Gilberto, Jéferson, Kaká, Kléberson, Rafael
7 Uruguay Uruguay Álvaro Fernández, Nicolás Lodeiro, Federico Puppo, Egidio Arévalo Rios, Octavio Rivero, Diego Rossi, David Texeira
6 England England David Beckham, Jermain Defoe, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Liam Ridgewell, Bradley Wright-Phillips
6 Honduras Honduras Jerry Bengtson, Alberth Elis, Roger Espinoza, Óscar Boniek García, Alexander López, Bryan Róchez
5 Ecuador Ecuador Juan Luis Anangonó, Aníbal Chalá, Carlos Gruezo, Oswaldo Minda, Joao Plata
5 France France Romain Alessandrini, Yohan Croizet, Claude Dielna, Eric Hassli, Thierry Henry
5 Paraguay Paraguay Miguel Almirón, Josué Colmán, Alejandro Gamarra, Jesús Medina, Nelson Haedo Valdez
4 Germany Germany Torsten Frings, Frank Rost, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Christian Tiffert
4 Scotland Scotland Kris Boyd, Shaun Maloney, Kenny Miller, Barry Robson
3 Chile Chile Felipe Gutiérrez, Pedro Morales, Diego Rubio
3 Italy Italy Marco Di Vaio, Sebastian Giovinco, Andrea Pirlo
3 Nigeria Nigeria Fanendo Adi, Kennedy Igboananike, Obafemi Martins
3 Portugal Portugal José Gonçalves, André Horta, Pedro Santos
3 Switzerland Switzerland Blerim D?emaili, Innocent Emeghara, Blaise Nkufo
3 Venezuela Venezuela Fernando Aristeguieta, Josef Martínez, Jefferson Savarino
2 Albania Albania Hamdi Salihi, Shkëlzen Gashi
2 Canada Canada Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario
2 Costa Rica Costa Rica Álvaro Saborío, Kendall Waston
2 Ghana Ghana David Accam, Jonathan Mensah
2 Republic of Ireland Ireland Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane
2 Ivory Coast Ivory Coast Didier Drogba, Xavier Kouassi
2 Jamaica Jamaica Giles Barnes, Simon Dawkins
2 Netherlands Netherlands Danny Koevermans, Sherjill MacDonald
2 Peru Peru Andrés Mendoza, Yoshimar Yotún
2 Spain Spain Mista, David Villa
2 Sweden Sweden Magnus Eriksson, Fredrik Ljungberg
1 Algeria Algeria Saphir Taïder
1 Armenia Armenia Yura Movsisyan
1 Australia Australia Tim Cahill
1 Belgium Belgium Jelle Van Damme
1 Cuba Cuba Osvaldo Alonso
1 Czech Republic Czech Republic Bo?ek Do?kal
1 The Gambia Gambia Mustapha Jarju
1 Georgia (country) Georgia Valeri Qazaishvili
1 Grenada Grenada Shalrie Joseph
1 Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau Gerso Fernandes
1 Hungary Hungary Nemanja Nikoli?
1 Israel Israel Omer Damari
1 Montenegro Montenegro Branko Bo?kovi?
1 Panama Panama Gabriel Torres
1 Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Kei Kamara
1 Slovakia Slovakia Albert Rusnák

See also


  1. ^ a b c Wahl, Grant (November 28, 2011). "Hollywood Ending: If this was indeed David Beckham's final game in MLS, he went out in style, carrying the Galaxy to a championship and affirming the value of star power in America". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2011. In the first four seasons of MLS's Beckham Rule, which allowed clubs to sign up to three designated players outside the salary cap, .... 
  2. ^ a b Lansley, Pete (April 13, 2007). "Becks could be the next American idol". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "PlayersUnion". Retrieved 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Beckham hopes to make US history". BBC. January 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007. 
  5. ^ Goff, Steven (April 26, 2006). "Palencia Has Richest MLS Salary". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007. 
  6. ^ Mickle, Tripp (November 26, 2007). "Debate highlights MLS salary cap split". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c Bell, Jack (March 18, 2009). "In M.L.S., Designated Players Do Not Guarantee Great Expectations". New York Times. Retrieved 2009. 
  8. ^ "Galaxy, Milan, Inter wait on Becks". CNN. February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2010. 
  9. ^ "Fulham complete Johnson signing". BBC Sport. January 23, 2008. Archived from the original on January 27, 2008. 
  10. ^ Mayers, Joshua (April 1, 2010). "Major League Soccer adds second DP slot, can purchase a third (league release)". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010. 
  11. ^ "2012 MLS Roster Rules". Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Roster Rules and Regulations". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 2015. 
  13. ^ "A Look into NYCFC's 2014 Payroll (or "David Villa is making k")". Empire of Soccer. Retrieved 2016. 
  14. ^ "2018 MLS Player Salaries". 2018 MLS Player Salaries. Major League Soccer Players Union. 
  15. ^ "MLS Roster Rules and Regulations -". Retrieved 2017. 
  16. ^ "Former MLS Designated Players". Retrieved 2017. 
  17. ^

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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