This time, can MLS teams consistently win with two DPs?
Does this mean having two Designated Players and fielding a successful team are mutually exclusive? It just might if you realize what having two DP slots mean to a team. If you have two DPs, that means that $725,000 of your $2.3 million salary cap is devoted to two players. You don’t have to be a math wizard to know that is almost one third of your cap space, leaving approximately $1,575,000 of space to pay 16 players. That number increases to 18 in 2009 when senior rosters go from 18 to 20. As for the overall increase in salary cap space for 2009, team officials throughout the league are calling it a relative drop in the bucket.
Then there is the gamble you are taking with those huge chunks of cap space. When you consider that most (actually all to date) Designated Players are older players, you run a greater risk of those players being injued, which can ultimately mean a higher risk of losing a greater portion of your salary cap. Red Bulls fans and D.C. United fans know this all too well after last season. Now while not all DPs get hurt, if you have two of them it significantly increases your exposure to a costly injury or two.
I tend to believe that a team can win with two DPs, but that there are two conditions that also have to take place for it to happen.
- You have to draft very well in order to maximize the talent/per/salary dollar out of the rest of the roster
- You then have to win quickly, because the window is small before the high-value draftees I mention above turn out to be good enough to require a pay raise or will go elsewhere to find one.
If it sounds like I am circling back to my recent obssession with how important this year’s draft is for DC United, you’re right. It’s hard for me to overstate how important the upcoming draft is – both to the short and long term success of the team.