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Blue Notes: A Fourth DP, MLS & Liga MX Leagues Cup Format, KC Current/Houston Sellout

Is MLS really considering adding a fourth designated player? Plus lots more updates around soccer in Kansas City.

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MLS: 2022 MLS All-Star Game-Liga MX All Stars at MLS All Stars Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are lots of stories that just don’t get the coverage they deserve but we want to keep our Blue Testament readers up to date on the things impacting their teams. So let’s get right to it.

Rumor: MLS to Add a Fourth DP

I alluded to this in a story earlier in the week, but a report from states that according to a member of the LA Galaxy, “the contract with the Apple company could open the possibility of a fourth designated player in each team in the league.”

The numbers on the Apple deal aren’t bad. MLS expects to get a minimum of $250 million per season. However, the math gets really messy and The Athletic does a really deep breakdown of it. After factoring in all the money that comes out of that to go to production and players in the new CBA, teams can expect about $7.5 million each per year. That’s up from a number that had dwindled to about $2.3 million per year after all the recent expansion.

So about $5.2 million, give or take, in new revenue. It’s definitely enough to add another DP. Sporting Kansas City have three on their roster (though it’s about to be two): Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Gadi Kinda.

Pulido had a nearly $10 million transfer fee and a salary of around $2.2 million per year. Kinda had a fee in the neighborhood of $4m and his recent salary is just under $1m. Russell is at $2m in salary with a very nominal transfer fee (somewhere around $200k). An extra $5.2m could cover a move like that those if you factor in that they’ve all been with the team for multiple seasons.

However, I’m pessimistic that it’ll happen. Many MLS teams lose money and this new revenue can help avoid or offset some of those losses. The really ambitious teams will want another DP and more ways to spend, but there are a chunk of “cheap” owners who will do anything possible to stop that, as it puts their team at a deficit. Several teams don’t even use the current three DP spots that are available. A fourth just puts them further behind the teams that do.

Atlanta United’s Carlos Bocanegra was asked about it and he hadn’t heard anything, so I doubt it’s coming in 2023. Or he’s not being transparent since I’m sure the league wants to control the narrative if it’s announced.

As we’ve talked about before, an overhaul of MLS rules would be much more welcome instead of more complicated roster mechanisms like Designated Players, U-22 Players, TAM, GAM, WHAM, BAM and thank you MA’AM (head to the comments and let me know what those new acronyms stand for).

Leagues Cup Format Unveiled

Last week, Major League Soccer announced the official revised Leagues Cup format for the 2023 season. Unlike in past years with somewhat meaningless games that interfered with league play, the season will come to a complete stop and MLS teams will face off with Liga MX teams. Here are the details:

  • Dates: July 21st through August 19th
  • World Cup style group stage followed by knockout rounds
  • 4 regions: East, West, South, Central
  • There can be no ties (one point for a draw, an additional point for PK shoot out winner, like in MLS Next Pro)
  • All games are at MLS stadiums (including Liga MX vs. Liga MX games)
  • The 2022 MLS Cup Champion skips the group stage
  • Of the Clausura and Apertura champs in Liga MX, the one with the most points skips the group stage
  • Minimum of two matches in the group stage with the top two teams advancing (full rules coming later)
  • Points from the prior season set group stage seeding
  • The top three teams (3rd place game winner and the two finalists) get CONCACAF Champions League entries (with the winner skipping to the Round of 16)
  • 77 total matches
  • All games are on Apple TV

Update: Check out “Farmhand’s” comment below for a further breakdown of how the groups will breakout. This article originally said (in error) the remaining teams not ranked 2-16 in MLS and Liga MX would only play each other, but it seems they’ll be drawn into groups with the 2-16 sides from each league (e.g. #2 MLS team, #16 Liga MX team, plus a third team randomly by geography from MLS or Liga MX). That will ensure each MLS team has at least one Liga MX team in their group.

Quick Notes

  • The Kansas City Current are travelling to Texas to face the Houston Dash in the 2022 NWSL Playoffs this weekend. The Dash are pushing for a sellout, but they’ve already broken their attendance record which should make for a lively crowd.
  • Speaking of the Current, The Blue Testament will have more on the groundbreaking last week, but it’s awesome to see this town and it’s leaders getting behind women’s soccer.
  • Darbeque? St. Louis City SC are trying to brand the derby between Sporting KC and their club for 2023. It’s clever, but I don’t associate St. Louis with BBQ so I’m not sure it makes sense.