Our friend GS-1 at www.goalseattle.com has asked if Sounders FC should have a Designated Player in year one. Some say that it would be a waste of money, others that only if the right fit is made.
I am here to quite forcefully say that not only is a DP the right answer, it is the right answer from the start. Let's look first at the most recent expansion team, our fellow team in the upcoming NASL Heritage Cup, the San Jose Earthquakes. They recently brought on Darren Huckerby. Formerly of Norwich City, and the Irish National Team, he is NOT a Designated Player, but he is quite clearly a typical player that would be available as a DP. He is past his peak and looking to succeed for a last few years of his playing life.
He has 8 games with 4 goals and 4 assissts in his limited MLS time. Since being brought into the Bay Area the 'Quakes are 5-1-2 for 17 points in 8 games. They were 2-8-6 prior, and last in the league. They now challenge for the 8th playoff spot. They have scored 15 goals and only given up 7 since he came on board. He ins't solely to be credited, and again he isn't a DP, but he is making 85% of the max cap space of a DP, so he's kind of close.
The second most recent expansion team just said the following
"It's going to happen. The time is right now to bring on the DPs, at least one and if not two," Carver said. "We have ear-marked a couple of players."
TFC recognizes that bringing in the need for top level talent in order to bring on wins, because that's their only next step as they are one of the benchmarks of success in Major League Soccer, with a live atmosphere and second highest valued franchises in the league.
They also recognize that they don't want a Beckham-esque twilight of career player, but instead players like Juan Pablo Angel.
That's the key, because a DP can help both on the field and in the revenue stream. On that Forbes list only one of the top 6 valued teams doesn't have a DP, and Toronto has made it clear they will next year. Of the playoff teams at this time the following teams have max contract players on them - Chicago Fire (2), Red Bull NY (2), and DC United. While certainly LA started the season with three players with max or higher contracts I doubt you could point to Beckham or Donovan as the reason for failure; Carlos Ruiz maybe.
The fact is that teams can and do win with DPs, and the ones that are profitable all have them and want them.
Seattle Sounders FC will have a DP. Said DP will either be a Beckham/Blanco type that sells jerseys and seats, or it will be a youngish up and comer who can't crack the starting lineup in one of the big Euro Leagues (Angel, Adu). Either way the club will win, and it will be worth more because of both the wins and the players.