In Major League Soccer, designated players are the most famous, most recognizable players on their respective teams. So which one is the best?
That's what this list is here to figure out. First, though, a little background.
More than any other development, the Designated Player Rule transformed the MLS. By allowing teams to bring in big-name players for big-time salaries without breaking the salary cap, the rule brought an unprecedented level of star power to the league.
David Beckham was the first. Now, with each team allowed two designated players, there are more than 20.
That meant making a top 10 list was both easy and difficult. For every success story like Fredy Montero of the Seattle Sounders, there are also major busts and big names with incomplete grades.
Take Robbie Keane for example. The Republic of Ireland forward played well in his four appearances in 2011 for the Los Angeles Galaxy, scoring twice. But four appearances is not a big enough sample size to draw reasonable conclusions.
So we left him off this list, for now. Who did we include? For this list, we tried to combine the players' 2011 form with their overall accomplishments and reputation.
It made for what we're sure you'll agree were some interesting choices.
(Except where noted, all salary figures comes from this .pdf file.)