Designated Players - worth their weight in meh

Once upon a time I critiqued the man who is now the manager of SBNation's soccer network and his stance on the DP. I ran some with or without you numbers and titled it really poorly. I was learning the whole blogger thing back then, trying too hard to make a dent in the world.  In general it was apparent that MLS teams played more open games with a DP for 2008, more goals for, and more against.

But let's look deeper since there seems to be a case of Haves in the League pushing for more DPs. Denz over at RSLSoapbox doesn't like the idea and I understand why. His team won a major trophy without one, and doesn't have the cash to get one.  There is also worry about a split between the teams that Have money, and the teams that don't.  It could create a divide in some ways similar to what MLB and the EPL have, with that divide between big and small.

But today, I was on the GoalSeattle forums talking out my butt, rather than through evidence. I used my memory of this year, and my memory of the old blog entry to color my post in the thread there about the DP.  While yes, this year DP teams were pretty darn good (1.40 PPM, 1.13 GD on average, 2 of 3 major trophies, more in Playoffs, better performance in CCL), but guess what the 3 year history shows?

Yeah, its in the headline.

Yep, MEH.  Hard to be an emphatic meh, but it should be.

Whole lot of no real difference.  Not by Points Per Match, not by GF, nor by GA.  No real difference in major trophies (MLS Cup, Supporters Shield, US Open Cup), no real difference in minor trophies (Conference Champions and SuperLiga).

In fact the only difference is that DP teams tend to be more likely to make the Playoffs, and non-DP teams tend to do slightly better in SuperLiga and CONCACAF Champions League.

Season PPM GF GA GD Major Minor Playoffs NonLeague
2007 DP 1.44 41.80 41.40 0.40 20% 0% 80% 1.44
2007 1.40 44.14 44.43 -0.29 25% 25% 50% 1.75
2008 DP 1.31 44.20 46.60 -2.40 20% 20% 60% 0.62
2008 1.39 41.11 39.44 1.67 22% 22% 56% 1.52
2009 DP 1.40 37.50 36.38 1.13 25% 13% 63% 1.30
2009 1.28 38.71 40.00 -1.29 14% 14% 43% 1.17
DP 1.39 41.17 41.46 -0.29 22% 11% 68% 1.12
NoDP 1.36 41.32 41.29 0.03 21% 21% 49% 1.48

Sure there were awful performances by the LA Galaxy in their first two years of Beckham, and in this year's Red Bull squad.  There were also pathetic performances by Toronto, San Jose, and other non-DP teams.  Sure, there hasn't been an MLS Cup winner with a DP, but both Shield and US Open Cup have been hoisted by those with a Designated Player (or two).

So, if the on-pitch impact is small, and the off-pitch impact is small (only Beckham moved that needle), what's all the complaining about? Fear.  We fear the NASL here in America. We fear copying MLB. We fear the Big 4 of the EPL.

But up until now, the DP hasn't made a dent in any significant capacity. So if the DP is kept, expand it, let the owners have more control. Personally I still want it gone, unless it is done fairly.

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