Commish: DP rule changing

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 PM ET

Now that Major League Soccer has labour peace for the next five seasons, the league will be making changes to its Designated Player rule.

In his conference call Tuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the league would be announcing changes to the rule next week.

The DP rule allows teams to pay one star player an unlimited amount -- but to take only the cap hit for the maximum salary allowed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It has allowed global stars such as Juan Pablo Angel, Freddie Ljungberg and that Beckham guy to come into the league.

Canadian Julian de Guzman occupies Toronto FC's DP slot.

Garber made it clear that the league needs more superstars, so it's not like the league is going to get rid of the DP. In fact, it may get extended.

When pressed if the changes would allow teams to each have two DPs, he answered "it's conceivable we could do that."

It would make sense. Rumours have abounded linking French striker Thierry Henry and Real Madrid legend Raul with moves to New York; but the Red Bulls already have Angel on the books.

With the roster sizes increased to 24 in the new CBA, and talk about restoring the reserve league, there could be room for the spot. The new salary cap is $2.55-million US per team, up from $2.315 million last season.

TFC in for Cup

If you thought Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.'s bid for this year's MLS Cup had no chance, considering that New York has the brand-spankin' new Red Bull Arena, think again.

Garber said that BMO Field is still a top contender for the game, and while the league wants to place the final in Red Bull Arena, it might give the stadium time to get through its first-season growing pains.

Garber said Toronto has "the same dynamic that exists in Seattle," which hosted last year's final.

"And the grass certainly makes a difference."

Really, MLS' major concern continues to be the weather. A late November evening off the shores of Lake Ontario will present challenges. But Garber said he was assured by MLSEL executive VP Tom Anselmi that the weather should be decent.

When Seattle hosted MLS Cup in a cold, Pacific Northwest rain, Anselmi notified Garber that the temperature in Toronto was 13C.

Canadian content

MLS teams are going to be holding viewing parties when the U.S. team is in World Cup action.

MLS will piggyback on ESPN's coverage of the Americans' opening game against England, which Garber promises will be the one of the most heavily promoted events in the history of the network.

But while MLS is targeting the American grassroots and the Latino market, he admitted more has to be done for the Canadian market. Obviously, promotions tied with U.S. soccer won't work in Toronto.

With Vancouver coming into MLS in 2011 and negotiations ongoing to bring Montreal into the league possibly in 2012, Garber admitted the MLS dynamic will soon be like the NHL.

Discussions with Montreal owner Joey Saputo were slowed down by CBA negotiations.

"Canadians absolutely love their soccer," said Garber.

A Canadian MLS office could be coming; and Garber is meeting with Vancouver Whitecaps officials Thursday to discuss initiatives.

And, with MLS being such an English and Spanish league, Garber said it is ready to embrace a third.

"It's (Montreal) a market that has two languages. We will figure out how to make it work."


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