Impact of MLS Designated Player rule 

April, 16, 2012
04/16/12
2:56
PM ET

Brek Shea's performance at the Olympic qualifiers might ultimately have been a bit disappointing, but if Dallas fans had their way, they'd still like to see Shea facing off in MLS for years to come. Given the young star's trajectory and plenty of interest from overseas, though, it might seem like the chances of that are pretty low.

Over the years MLS has had a tough time keeping its young stars around. The league can't always match the economic terms that clubs overseas offer their best young players -- especially those whose deals have run out -- and given the hit that MLS clubs would take to their salary cap to match such offers, teams have preferred to use the draft and foreign imports instead of locking up promising young American talent.

But that may be slowly changing, largely because of a new MLS rule implemented last year. The so-called young Designated Player rule, designed to mirror the well-known senior DP clause, allows clubs to sign young stars long term, without taking a huge hit to the salary cap.

"I think [it] has really helped," says FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. "With the young DP spots, where you can bring in players U-20 and younger, and their salary will only count against your budget at 150 [thousand] on the salary cap, now as a coach you're willing to go get that young player. The important thing is that the young player is coming in and fits into your budget, maybe you'll have rights to that player, maybe you can sell them on."


To read the rest of the piece on the importance of the MLS Designated Player rule for keeping young stars in the league, plus to get full access to the USMNT blog, become an ESPN Insider today.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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