Now that we're in the new era of multiple DPs, I'm renewing my call for MLS to go and get Juninho Pernambucano. Specifically, I'm calling for the Sounders to go and get him. If you don't know who he is, he's this guy (apologies in advance for the music):
Surely it's obvious what one of the best, and maybe the best, free kick takers ever would offer to one of the most fouled teams in MLS? Juninho has scored from over 40 yards away on multiple occasions and is extremely dangerous on anything 35 yards or closer. As you watch him put goal after goal into the net, take a minute to take note of the keepers he's beating. Especially note that Oliver Kahn is left completely flat-footed at 1:09 and the figure desperately flailing at 2:05 is Iker Casillas. Two of the world's best keepers utterly left for dead. Now imagine that guy in Rave Green, standing over a ball while Pat Onstad or Kevin Hartman sweats bullets.
At the moment, Juninho's playing in Qatar for a very reasonable $2 million per year, which puts him pretty much in the middle of the Designated Player salary range. In the past, a player like Juninho was seen as not enough of a name to be a candidate for a DP slot. DPs were supposed to be not only a top player, but a highly recognizable figure as well. Generally speaking, you had one shot with the DP rule, and you wanted that player to make a huge impact both on and off the field.
However, with the new DP rules, that thinking is outdated. Now a team can go out looking for players who best fulfill their needs, regardless of whether they're known or not. Instead of the Beckham Rule, the DP has become the Many Schelottos Rule. Schelotto definitely wasn't a household name before he went to the Crew, but he became one among MLS fans and also helped Columbus pick up two Supporters' Shields and an MLS Cup. With the new DP rules, a team can go out and find two or three Schelottos, players who are at a higher level than MLS, without necessarily being world-renowned. And the Sounders should lead the way by signing Juninho.