In 2007, Major League Soccer adopted the Designated Player Rule allowing clubs to usurp the league’s restrictive salary cap to add marquee players without affecting their wage structures. The rule changed MLS overnight as clubs could suddenly attract big-named players from outside the United States. The 2020 MLS season sees over 50 Designated Players competing across the league’s 26 teams. Supporters are anticipating the return of the exciting 26-team football league and when it does, they can use the William Hill registration code at sign up before wagering on the games.
Although nearly each MLS team has one Designated Player; it took time for the rule to take off. In the more than a decade since the rule was enacted, there have been some big-names to compete in MLS. Some have been better than others and will be remembered as MLS’s greatest Designated Players of all-time.
5. Juan Pablo Angel – New York Red Bulls/LA Galaxy/Chivas USA
Juan Pablo Angel was part of the first wave of MLS Designated Players to arrive from Europe. Angel joined the New York Red Bulls in 2007 as the league’s second-ever designated signing and came after playing six seasons in the English Premier League with Aston Villa. Angel scored 19 goals in his first season and solidified himself as a Red Bulls legend over the course of four campaigns with each ending in double-digit goals. Football fans are debating whether the Red Bulls can fight for the MLS Cup this season. When the league returns, supporters can use the Michigan Lottery bet bonus to wager on the Red Bulls’ fixtures.
4. Josef Martinez – Atlanta United
After an uneventful career in Europe, striker Josef Martinez joined Atlanta United in 2017 and hit the ground running. Martinez is a natural goalscorer and has finished each season in Atlanta with double-digit goals. In 2018, he bagged 31 goals in league play. His goalscoring landed him the league’s MVP and Golden Boot awards. Still playing in the league, Martinez could become the best ever MLS Designated Player by the time he retires.
3. Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
Robbie Keane played five seasons with the LA Galaxy helping the club win three MLS Cup trophies. Along with Landon Donavon and David Beckham, Keane was a part of the last great dynasty in MLS soccer. The Irishman scored 83 goals in 125 league games. He added 45 assists to show just how important he was to the Galaxy’s goalscoring.
2. Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
Sebastian Giovinco was the player Toronto FC needed to finally become a successful club. Giovinco could create goals and score them in equal measure and upon his arrival, the Red became MLS’s best team. The forward’s versatility is what made him so successful in a league that is very scrappy. Giovinco played 114 MLS games for Toronto scoring 68 goals and tallying 52 assists.
1. David Beckham – LA Galaxy
MLS may not exist today had Beckham not been lured to the league in 2007 as the first-ever Designated Player. Beckham had the marquee name MLS had craved since its inception and though he started slowly, the midfielder showed just how good of a player he was over the years. Beckham spent the final six full seasons of his career in LA winning two MLS Cups with the Galaxy. The club went on to win a third MLS Cup after his departure thanks to the foundation Beckham helped create. The Englishman played 98 games for the Galaxy scoring 18 goals and tallying 40 assists. Although his numbers weren’t as great as others who joined MLS later on, his name appeal is what helped bring those players to the league.