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MLS Persists in Bizarre Rule Changes
ESPN Soccernet, April 24th, 2008 4PM

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ESPN Soccernet columnist Doug McIntyre digs into Major League Soccer for what many claim is a "make-it-up-as-you-go-along attitude towards its own arcane set of rules and regulations." He adds that many of these complaints are justified. Among them: three years ago, McIntyre says the league "strong-armed" FC Dallas into trading an allocation so that Landon Donovan could play for the L.A. Galaxy after enduring a disappointing second spell with Bayer Leverkusen.

The rule changes persist today. How about the strange exception that allows Donovan, David Beckham and Carlos Ruiz -- three Designated Players who make more than $400,000 each -- to all play for the Galaxy when the team has only one DP slot? "Obviously we're very concerned about it," New York Red Bulls sporting director Jeff Agoos said regarding that policy change, which was implemented during the off-season to protect the likes of Donovan and Ruiz from being counted as DPs because they signed contracts before the DP rule came into existence.

Meanwhile, MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis says the fact that people are debating the so-called "grandfathered" player rule is a good thing. "I think we have to explain to the public exactly what's happening. I'm not sure we were even explaining things to our general managers and coaches in the distant past. Now, they may or may not like the explanation, but I think the fact that there is a controversy and we're explaining it is healthy."

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