[MY VIEW] Our 16-year-old son has (finally) taken to soccer in a big way, going from video gamer (Pro Evolution Soccer) to active participant (with hopes of
making his high school varsity team next year, his senior year). He has found the YouTube highlights of all the great players of yesterday and today and was excited by the prospect that Ronaldinho might be joining the Galaxy in 2011.
Our son can describe -- if not replicate -- every one of Ronaldinho's great goals (YouTube Top 10 Goals), so the news that the Brazilian is headed elsewhere (Brazil, at last word) was taken hard in our household. For he was the only one of the names being mentioned as a 2011 DP candidate that created any excitement.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit the bill if he was thinking of coming in 2011, not 2014, but other names being mentioned are hardly to sell. Guillermo Franco? Robbie Keane? Adrian Mutu? Harry Kewell? Patrick Vieira?
MLS's Designated Player policy was introduced to make it possible for clubs to sign players otherwise unaffordable, given MLS's salary structure, but the results so far have been mixed. For every Juan Pablo Angel there has been the Spaniard Mista, waived by Toronto after half a season.
Most players near the end of their careers might be affordable by MLS standards, but big-name players like a Lionel Messi or Didier Drogba (the cornerstone of our son's PES team) or the real Spanish stars remain out of reach.
Elevating the likes of Fredy Montero and Alvaro Saborio to DP status was a start in the right direction -- getting the stars MLS already has and keeping them.
But only one American -- Landon Donovan -- is signed to a DP contract. Stuart Holden, now thriving with Bolton in the EPL, got away last year, and Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley are all looking to complete moves abroad.
I'm not saying Buddle, Cunningham and Findley all deserve DP money, but they are among MLS's top American strikers, and if in the long term MLS can't keep its best American strikers it has a real problem.
If MLS can't attract the great foreign stars of yesterday, it must work on keeping the great American stars of tomorrow.