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Top 10 Groups of Designated Players in the MLS

For each team competing in Major League Soccer, a maximum of three Designated Players – or players that can exceed the league’s maximum individual salary – can fill up roster spots. More often than no

For each team competing in Major League Soccer, a maximum of three Designated Players – or players that can exceed the league’s maximum individual salary – can fill up roster spots. More often than not, these Designated Player slots are saved for those who are established European or South American stars that have honed their skills overseas, or are American-bred players who have plied their trade away from home, succeeded, and then returned. Sometimes, those slots are saved for players who have spent the bulk of their career in the MLS anyway, but have become elite-level players for that league’s standards, and a DP slot is their reward. Each team has at least one, and on this list, we’ll be taking a look at the very best designated players each team in the MLS has to offer.

Thanks to David Beckham’s arrival to Los Angeles in 2007 – which has given it the nickname of the “Beckham Rule” – the league itself made it so that the MLS could be that much more appealing of an option for players of Beckham’s calibre. So far, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe are among those who have started taking advantage of it, and the league is better off for it with them on board.

With rumours flying about the possible future stateside arrivals of Kaka, Xavi, Carles Puyol and several other ageing European stars, the Designated Player rule has paid off for the MLS in several ways. This ranking shows us the best 10 groups of Designated Players in Major League Soccer, which includes as few as just one player and as many as the maximum of three. Regardless of the number of DPs on a team, it’s about how established each team’s DPs are and how they perform for their clubs. Here are the top 10 biggest examples of that in the MLS today.

10 Alvaro Saborio/Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports Images

Already a go-to man up front for Costa Rica’s national team, Alvaro Saborio had previously been plying his trade with Bristol City and Swiss outfit Sion before making his way to Utah in 2011 to play for Real Salt Lake. That move ended up making Saborio the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 55 goals in total thus far.

9 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports Images

8 Eddie Johnson (DC United)

Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports Images

7 Maurice Edu/Cristian Maidana (Philadelphia Union)

6 Kenny Miller/Pedro Morales/Matias Laba (Vancouver Whitecaps)

5 Marco Di Vaio/Hernan Bernardello (Montreal Impact)

4 Clint Dempsey/Obafemi Martins/Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders)

3 Michael Bradley/Jermain Defoe/Gilberto (Toronto FC)

2 Landon Donovan/Robbie Keane/Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy)

1 Thierry Henry/Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)

After following David Beckham’s lead in joining the MLS, French striking legend – and World Cup winner – Thierry Henry signed with the New York Red Bulls in 2010. The former Arsenal hitman has done well in his time in the Big Apple thus far, with 42 goals overall since the 2010 season. Australian midfielder Tim Cahill – best known overseas for his time with Everton – also joined the Red Bulls in 2012 and has made the MLS Best XI and All-Star Game since then. He is expected to close out a fantastic international career for the Socceroos at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

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Top 10 Groups of Designated Players in the MLS