The Sounders could be getting ready to spend some of that money it always seems to have burning a hole in their pockets this summer, and I mean Clintefemi levels of cash. During the halftime of Wednesday's DC United-Orlando City SC match, Taylor Twellman discussed that rule changes
should could be coming for the summer transfer window and specifically to the Designated Player rules. If you want to hear from him directly, it is about the 50th minute mark in the WatchESPN replay of the DC United - OCSC match.
Twellman starts off by saying the league is going to have big-name players come in during the summer with rumors like Carlos Tevez, Kevin-Prince Boateng, and Andrea Pirlo in addition to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who are already signed for the second half of the season. He goes on to state that it is a question of how the mechanism will work, not will it be there or not, and pointing out it'll be related to DPs. The new rule would be addressing how the league handles and counts DPs. But without any comments or tweets since halftime we are left to speculate what possible rule changes are being made and what the impact will be for the Sounders.
1. The "Super Max" DP- The name does not really describe what it is, unfortunately. As Jeff Carlisle reported back in early January, it would be for mid-level players whose salary and transfer fee hit about $750,000. This would be a spot in addition to the current three possible DPs on a roster. In a lot of teams cases it likely will not change if a team brings in a Tevez level player, but in the Sounders case it appears Osvaldo Alonso would fit this rumored "Super Max" mechanism, allowing the Sounders to add a 3rd big-money DP.
2. 4th DP Slot- This is the easiest change for the league as it requires no new mechanism or creativity. Teams would likely have to buy the slot (I would guess) as they do with the 3rd DP slot, instead of making three free and pay for the fourth. Again, this would allow a major purchase for teams like LA and Seattle.
3. Allocation Money- The funny money that we know exists, what it does, but not how much is there could be the fix-all to the salary cap situation. Instead of a new DP rule, teams could be given a major stimulus of AM to buy down DPs to non-DP levels or at least pay down non-DP contracts to a low level. Players like Chad Marshall could have their cap hit taken almost to 0 with enough AM. While this would not add a new DP slot, it would help lower the hit of the players that fit the "Super Max" rule to minimal cap hits and would potentially allow teams to buy lower level DPs, like Alonso, to non-DP status and allow a new 3rd big money DP.
So who are these big money DPs the Sounders could bring in, let's take a trip down Transfer Window Lane.
1. Xavi is the first major rumor. The Sounders were rumored in the past that they may have attempted to sign Xavi. The 35-year-old CM would fit in the Pineda spot of CM. Known for his quick passing and ability to exploit space, he would bring an attacking option out of the midfield that the Sounders have lacked. With how well Dempsey and Martins have been able to stretch a defense, there is plenty of space for Xavi to sit behind them and just have fun.
2. Christopher Samba, the 31-year-old CB currently plays for Dinamo Moscow but his contract expires at the end of the season in June. He would be in line to replace either Brad Evans or Chad Marshall at center back, or potentially my favorite and be part of a 3-man backline. Back to Samba, he's a strong CB who be a much better DP CB than Liam Ridgewell. Samba is described as very strong, a great tackler, and a major threat in the air on set pieces. His distribution is not his strongest point but is above average for an MLS CB.
3. Juan Vargas, the Peruvian left winger's contract as Fiorentina expires at the end of June as well. Vargas, nicknamed "El Loco Vargas" has the ability to stretch a defense down the wing. Vargas played in only about half of Fiorentina's games this season but has been key for the Peru National Team. He fits the Sounders style of play for wingers, he is a great crosser and loves to cut in, take on defenders, and shoot. Vargas is also an excellent defender has the ability to be deployed at LB, if needed. Coming back on defense is something Sigi has been stressing of his wingers and something that Vargas will be able to provide.
There are an unlimited number of potential ways to fix the salary cap and the DP mechanism but we can all agree on one thing, any rule that lets the Sounders spend more money on players is a likely a good one.