In MLS, the highest salary a player can be paid due to salary cap restrictions is $350,000. So, when the MLS wanted to branch out and look elsewhere outside their comfort zone for talent, nothing in the United States could entice big name players. However, when David Beckham showed interest in the Los Angeles Galaxy, the MLS tried to adjust to hasten his move over. Thus, the Designated Player Rule was created, or commonly known as the Beckham Rule.
Basically, the “DP” Rule allows for teams to sign players that would require them to be over the salary cap, including the money that would be paid in a transfer. This immediately allowed the MLS to compete on the international market for players. Prior to this, the restrictions kept the league in a cage, but this is the start of something good for the MLS. Each team is originally allowed two “DP”‘s, but they are able to be traded.
David Beckham was the first DP, joining the league in 2007. Prior to 2009, less than ten DP’s were on rosters in the United States. As of 2012, there have been over fifty DP’s, and thirty of them are currently active. The growth from 2009 to 2012 was substantial. Suddenly, everyone felt they needed to get DP’s to keep up with the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls, who both currently have three DP’s.
This is what allows the MLS to compete in the global market and on the global stage. People like watching players they know, and frankly, no one knows MLS-only players. Torsten Frings, David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Rafael Marquez, and Kenny Miller all grace the fields in the United States as of today. These are players Americans want to watch and these are players the world wants to watch.
This rule was the beginning of the growth of the MLS. Now, the league is turning into a profit for investors, and the sport is growing in popularity every year. Allowing the franchises to be a little free with their money allows teams to bring in what Americans want to see, players from elsewhere. They want to see players they’ve seen lifting up the World Cup. They want to see players from the native homelands their ancestors came from. The Beckham Rule has forever changed the MLS and it’s only going to get better.