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Quick Burns: Is FC Dallas better off with or without a third Designated Player?

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As MLS explores ditching a roster option, we decide if this means much to FC Dallas.

MLS: FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

MLS roster slots are always a bit of a hot mess. According to MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal, the league is tossing around the idea of eliminating the third Designated Player spot or putting a hard cap on it, possibly as low as $1.5 million. The changes would likely coincide with the new CBA and start in the 2020 season, and would be accompanied by an increase in Targeted Allocation Money spending.

So how will this impact FC Dallas? Our staff dives into whether or not this will impact the team in the future or not.


Jason Poon - Yes, but whatever

The team is the star. That’s been this club’s motto since 2014 when Oscar Pareja took over. That’s been this team’s identity. So, in theory, yes, the elimination of a third DP would actually help Dallas because the opposition cannot stack three super stars with sub par players, thereby weakening them. Dallas’ strength this season has been the depth of the squad and getting better quality players not just from 1 to 11, but from 12 - 24.

I’m “whatever” about it, because I’m also irritated by these mechanisms. First it was a DP, then a second, then TAM, then GAM, then HGPs, then GA contracts, then a third DP, now no DP and who knows what else. Basically all of these roster mechanisms to fit players under a salary cap is ridiculous. Just raise the salary cap to a hard $8.5 million. No TAM/GAM or other nonsense. Want a Sebastian Giovinco for $7 million? Great! He’s yours. Now you have $1.5mil to fill out the rest of your roster. Good luck.

Drew Epperley - Sure...why not?

I think more TAM actually helps a team like FC Dallas than hurts them even though they’ve primarily gone the Young DP route over time. Fernando Clavijo and company have done a good job of using the TAM to their advantage in getting better deals for guys like Matt Hedges, Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti, while going out and signing guys like Pablo Aranguiz or Marquinhos Pedroso.

What this does do is makes the use of those two DP tags that much more important and it forces better use of TAM on players as well. You need to make sure you get more Carlos Gruezo type DPs than Cristian Colman and David Texeria types.

Jose Carmona - Better off

It has always felt as if FC Dallas have been playing with 2 DPs, year in and year out. The 3rd DP spot will not be missed by FCD. I believe that the big winners in this scenario, are teams like FCD, who have strong academies, good scouting, and fiscally savvy management.

Scott Hiney – Indubitably.

I love and fully agree with Jason’s assessment of this team’s strength — the team itself. This league has gone through some major transformations over the past half decade and I think at the core of those changes are more complete rosters. It says a lot to have a former MLS Rookie of the Year struggling to find minutes despite having a hand in 30 goals in his first four seasons, or the fact that should Roland Lamah’s lead hold, 2018 would be the fifth straight year to have a different face at least tied for the team’s lead in goals.

FC Dallas has continually gone against the ever-so-popular urge to sign an aging or post-prime international star, instead building from the ground-up using a thriving academy, keen South American scouting and wise draft selections. There’s no MLS Cup trophy to show for the team’s efforts — yet — but I fully believe an average of 1.65 points-per-game in the Pareja era would not be possible if money for guys like Reto Zeigler, Carlos Gruezo, Michael Barrios and Lamah (just to name a few) would’ve been instead put towards one or two “big-money” players.

Ben Lyon - Worse

FC Dallas has had a novel approach to their DP usage; buy promising and perhaps undervalued South Americans who aren’t gobbled up by the European leagues. While the increase in allocation (including rumored allocation dedicated to acquiring South Americans) would probably mostly offset new obstacles for FC Dallas’s roster strategy, the across the board reduction would present a box office challenge.

Reducing DP slots is an unnecessary impediment to drawing star power to the league. FC Dallas has fielded an excellent team and delivered an excellent on field product for 5 years but remains in a constant struggle to put its stamp on the DFW sports market. Restricting other teams’ respective strategies to lure stars to the league won’t be helpful to FC Dallas’s mission to lure new fans.