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Making sense of the Core Player rule

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Yahoo broke the news about what the Core Player rule is and how it's going to allow the LA Galaxy to sign Giovani dos Santos. What's that mean for Seattle Sounders?

Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Major League Soccer still hasn't announced the "Core Player" rule, but between the rumors and what Yahoo sports has said, the essentials are this: several teams will be able to sign a 4th Designated Player during the Secondary Transfer Window (July 8 to August 6). MLS will be a better league for it. It will also be much more complicated for GMs, agents and amateur capologists.

A source told Yahoo Sports that a Core Player is a current Designated Player who makes more than the league's maximum salary of $436,000 but less than $750,000. The rule is up for evaluation next year, a second league source said, when MLS could decide to potentially add more allocation money into the pot for each team.

Let's start at the most significant impact

The LA Galaxy will be able to sign Giovani dos Santos. It's going to involve them paying down Omar Gonzalez to hit the Core Player threshold and then paying down his cap hit again. That should free up a DP spot and allow for the signing of GdS.

Can the Sounders do that with Osvaldo Alonso?

They could choose to do so, and it will be a bit easier. Alonso had a DP value of about half what Omar did in 2014. Alonso's DP value (including non-salary compensation) was roughly $650k. Gonzalez was assured of $1.25 million. Seattle would not need to pay Alonso down twice, just once. Like LA, Garth Lagerwey would need to free cap space by cutting players or using more Allocation Money to pay the cap space to sign a DP.

You read that correctly. There is no direct expansion of cap space.

The 2015 salary budget is $3,490,000. MLS calls it a budget, because there are a lot of ways around it - DP, Core Player, Allocation Money, Generation Adidas, Homegrown Player, Special Discovery Players (amortized transfer fee), contract buy-outs and making a new rule just to get new talent.

Player salaries haven't been released yet so knowing what cap space the Sounders have is even more difficult than it would otherwise be. Let's assume that most of it is gone. They just signed Erik Friberg. In 2011, he made $110,000. After spending time in Serie A and two Scandinavian leagues his salary almost certainly went up. He's also rumored to be coming to the Sounders on a $75,000 transfer fee, which would be prorated over three years.

But they could still pay down Alonso and create cap space for a big name DP?

Yes. Here's how: they already had a lot of Allocation from things like selling Yedlin, the EJ trade, etc. They also got AM for making the CCL, for existing when expansion teams were added, and they lost Anibaba in the expansion draft. The Sounders hit almost every method of collecting Allocation Money and they are poised to get more through this mechanism.

That's a lot of ways to get Allocation Money. But Seattle now has a way to spend that on a single great player.

So who will they get?

Maybe no one. Maybe a dream dude. It's hard to know. The rule has been rumored for a while and the Sounders do have a clear need for a forward/winger (a DP type that can fit Neagle's role) or central midfielder (DP that pushes Friberg out wide).

I'm confused. Make it simple.

The Galaxy are getting GdS. The Sounders could be getting a new DP. Several other teams (Fire, Rapids, OCSC, Philly, Portland, San Jose, Vancouver) could also get a 4th DP. TFC might be able to reacquire Gilberto. NYCFC might be able to sign a Core Player.

There's a lot of moving parts and it all revolves around the unreleased salary data and Allocation Money, which basically rules the universe.