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Foreigner Rule All About Preserving Quality
MLSNet, December 20th, 2007 5:15PM

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Soccer columnist Steve Davis says the latest MLS rule change is all about upholding the standard of play as the league expands. Earlier this week, the league announced that teams could now have a total of eight international players on their roster instead of seven. More significantly, these slots can now be traded, which raises the possibility that one club could be composed entirely of foreigners.

Never mind all that, says Davis -- this is not another Designated Player rule. Teams are still bound by the salary cap, which means they'll still be looking for cheap talent. "Lots of [U.S. players] can compete with foreign players on the lower end of the pay scale," Davis says, pointing to the quality players that have emerged from the MLS SuperDraft and programs like Generation adidas.

Instead, the move is all about expanding the talent pool for the league's expansion. MLS plans to add four more teams by 2010, which is still far too early for the league's youth development programs to have born fruit. "To risk losing that momentum as we go through this period of expansion would really be shooting ourselves in the foot," says MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis, adding that foreign players like Luciano Emilio and Juan Toja contributed greatly to the league's overall improvement in quality -- a trend he would obviously like to see continue.

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