Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Farce That Has Become the "David Beckham Rule"

The grand fishing net known as the Designated Player Allocation has caught its coveted catch in David Beckham, as well as another sizable fish in Claudio Reyna, in the hopes of not only increasing the league's visibility throughout the world, but enhancing the overall skill level.

And that's about it.

So now that the DPA, colloquially (perhaps, more accurately) known as the David Beckham Rule, has reeled in the metrosexual megastar, the situation now appears to be one of which the remainder of the league's owners are seemingly content with sitting on their respective DPAs without any intention of utilizing them. Beckham's here, let us all siphon off the signing by promoting his coming attraction to our respective stadiums, and call it a day, good fellows - Cheers! Unfortunately, this appears to be the unsettling stance taken by many owners with regards to the once-groundbreaking rule that harpooned Becks. Unfortunately, "groundbreaking" can no longer be used to describe the well-intentioned rule - "comical" may be the more accurate adjective.

Although the transfer window does not close until April, allotting a few weeks time for any club with its DPA to sign any piggy bank-breaking international star, it appears that MLS owners, as a whole, are warmly content tucked underneath its David Beckham blankie. A tool that was supposed to promote a healthy influx of international talent has instead become a mere front for bringing in Becks stateside, and nothing more, save for the signing of Reyna by Red Bull NY. Should the April transfer deadline pass without the signing of any other international stars, it would be a supreme waste of a golden opportunity for the owners to take. I

It's a pity, really. To tell the MLS Fan that his or her club, recently bestowed with the powerful ability to sign a talented international, that it will simply put its DPA in its back pocket is farcical to the very concept of the rule. After all, wasn't this supposed to be the avenue to which the league would not only achieve greater visibility, but greater respect among the rest of soccer-playing world? Added respect was attained by the Beckham signing, surely, despite the ever-present naysayers, but his name alone won't give the league the kind of credibility it looks to attain abroad. For that to happen, it would take the signing of lesser-known, talented players from realms other than the ones presently looked upon by many MLS owners. Yes, gentlemen, soccer is indeed played in South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. One need not look solely to Europe and Mexico to find such talent.

In essence, the inaction being exercised by these owners by snoozing on such talent only implies that there aren't any superbly-talented players in Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Australia, etc. worth grasping the wallet for. This is simply ludicrous, and deeply troubling to any well-informed soccer fan. Granted, there are many intangibles that one has to consider before signing a relative unknown (i.e. anyone who does not play in the English Premier League, La Liga, or Serie A), such as their ability to fit into a given club's system, compatibility with other players, communication, etc. But, to have your fans believe that there is simply no one in the entire soccer-playing globe worth using the DPA on is a slap in the face to those who pass through the turnstiles.

Fact of the matter is, contrary to popular belief, an owner need not invest the cartel of cash-stuffed suitcases given to Becks for a gifted international player. An enticing, incentive-laden deal for a young speedy forward or brilliantly creative midfielder would certainly benefit any club, without splurging millions on an older (more famous) past-prime player. Perhaps the root of the problem is the inadequacy of the league's international scouting to find these young players. If so, this may expose an ugly truth that the DPA has unwittingly brought to light.

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