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Another DP Slot coming to a MLS team near you?

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Rumors are picking up steam that roster rules are changing again

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Twellman has been actively stating in recent months that the current 3 Designated Player rule is going to change. It was implied that the change was coming during the recent CBA negotiations but that came and went without any major announcement, but Twellman remained steadfast with his reporting that a change was coming and that it was never a matter of what but when.

In fact he said it here almost a year ago:

and here again back in November:

Twellman has been an incredibly reliable source of news, being one of the first to break that Michael Bradley was MLS bound and that Landon Donovan wasn't making the 2014 World Cup squad, so there is little reason to doubt him when he makes such bold claims. He made more claims during the Orlando City - DC United match last Wednesday on the air during halftime. The big question is figuring out how this new DP rule will be implemented and how it'll change the landscape of the league. He's implied that it probably won't be as clean and simple as just saying teams will have 4 DP slots now, but rather there are hints that there are changes to how the league will count DPs or some extra mechanisms will be put in place to allow teams to bring in more big name players.

So what exactly are the potential options? Here are my hypotheticals:

Fourth DP Slot

Just clean and simple, tell the teams that they have one more roster spot open for a DP signing. This does appear to be the most straight forward way of handling it but it does bring potential for small clubs around the league to cry foul as this clearly benefits LA, Seattle, NYCFC and Toronto who have the owners ready and willing to splash the cash wherever they please. Suddenly this becomes a top heavy league with 2-4 teams consistently challenging for silverware which defeats the purpose of the single entity structure where in theory every team has a chance to compete and win something.

Fourth DP Slot with Roster Rule Limitations

This would entail adding a fourth DP slot but then creating some kind of "penalty" for that team who has four DPs on their team. I'm thinking of a shrunken roster size or limiting their transfer activity or reducing the number of international spots or even lowering their salary cap. Obviously this would require an insane amount of tweaking but having something like this in place may soothe over the small clubs who won't be considering even having three or four DPs on their team.

Super Max DP

This is a very misleading name and title but ESPN's Jeff Carisle reported back in January that this was something on the table to be considered. In summary this covers more the mid-level DPs, so think of the Mauro Diaz's and Fabian Castillo's and not the Michael Bradley or Robbie Keane levels. The idea here is to have maybe one of these such players on your team plus having 3 DPs. So this would allow for teams to keep their players, pay them reasonably without it slowing down importing bigger named foreign talent.

Bail Out Money

aka, Allocation Money. Another thought would be for the league to just send every club an enormous amount of allocation money to buy down their current DPs and lower them out of the DP designation, thereby giving teams more flexibility to go after the big name players. This of course isn't ideal for small clubs anyway as they still have to front the bill on the player salaries but it at least gives them the chance to spend.

Local DP

For good reason, MLS seems to be on a mission to bring back American talent from overseas as it increases fan engagement and interest. One such maneuver here could be to allow clubs to bring back an American or Canadian player and have them count towards the Local DP slot but continue offering each team 3 DPs as usual.

Again, the things above are just purely speculative and some are probably downright silly and improbable. And I'm sure the big question that y'all are thinking about is what does this mean for Dallas? Given their conservative nature, it probably explains why they haven't made a move to fill that third DP slot just yet. With this rule change probably coming down this summer, it's wise for FCD to wait and see what they are dealing with before making any roster decisions. The hope is that they've been doing their homework for the past few months and have earmarked certain players that they want to bring in immediately once this rule change becomes official.