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What's the deal with the MLS League DP?

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News spread this afternoon about an MLS League DP program that Toronto FC was able to take advantage of in signing Maximiliano Urruti. It appears to be an allocation type system for distributing young talent MLS wants to sign.

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This afternoon there was much consternation and revulsion as it became apparent that MLS had yet another secret player acquisition program that had not been introduced to the public. It came to light as we learned about the trade of Argentine striker Maximiliano Urruti from Toronto FC to the Portland Timbers. Urruti was called a League DP in the article, the first of its kind, and no one knew what that meant.

Waking the Red traced it down to an interview with Kevin Payne that appeared in the Toronto Star last week. This paragraph is the one where Payne appears to be describing a new player acquisition program:

"Also, we're first in line to participate in the league's new young, designated player program. So, as players are acquired by the league and made available to the teams, we're at the top of the list. This is a key program because the players will come in at a discounted cap charge and they also will not count (as one of team's three) designated players."

The quote made it sound that unlike the current DP program where teams identify players they want to bring in and then get approval from the league, here the league is identifying young players it wants to bring in the offering them to an allocation type list.

Toronto isn't at the top of the current allocation order, so this must be a separate list. It's a lot like the Young DP program, but it's almost as if the league got fed up with the teams at the bottom not trying hard enough to improve themselves with discounted young DPs. If the league is footing the bill for these players, as it does in the case of the Generation adidas program, there's no reason for the teams at the bottom not to bring them on board.

That Urruti is now going for likely-playoff-bound Portland seems to defeat the spirit of the program we don't have all the details about, but it highlights one of the key issues with the allocation process. College drafts have been around long enough in this country that the kids are used to and expect to be placed wherever. It's different for players from other countries which may have needs some teams can't meet.

It's not a program the LA Galaxy will be able to take advantage of in the near future, but it's worth being aware of the ways other MLS teams are going to look into when trying to become competitive again.