Major League Soccer changed the way younger Designated Players count against the league salary cap on Tuesday, and the new rules will probably have an impact on new Philadelphia Union signing Freddy Adu next season.
The new rules mean that Designated Players aged 20 or younger will only count $150,000 against the cap, and players aged 21-23 will only count for $200,000. All other players will continue to count $335,000 against the salary cap. Players like Fabian Castillo of FC Dallas or Milton Caraglio of the New England Revolution, who became DPs this season but who fit the age requirement, will be moved onto this scale when the rule takes effect in 2012.
Those two players don't actually make a salary comparable to other big names like David Beckham or Thierry Henry. They count as DPs because their teams had to pay transfer fees to acquire them, and the fee is looped in with their salary in order to make them a Designated Player. The new rule changes will therefore encourage teams to make similar deals. The Union have been rumored several times this year with young Colombian Andres "Manga" Escobar, who if signed would have counted against the cap in a very similar way to Castillo with Dallas. This coming offseason may be as good a time as any for the Union to pull the trigger on Escobar.
The change will also probably have ramifications for newly signed Freddy Adu. The Union's newest member is not currently classified as a Designated Player, but the league and the Union are still sorting out how Adu's contract will be dealt with, with regards to the salary cap. He could be made a DP for the 2012 season under these new rules, or the Union could use allocation money to pay down his salary and just take the full hit against the cap. That is probably what they are doing this year, as his current salary is reportedly around $425,000.