MLS: Rating the Designated Players' Performances so Far This Year

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIMay 2, 2012

MLS: Rating the Designated Players' Performances so Far This Year

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    As MLS continues to grow in the world of football, plenty of its teams are looking for foreign talent to help bolster their squad. Ever since the DP rule was introduced in 2007, more and more clubs are taking the Designated Player path and signing big names in order to enhance their chances at claiming MLS glory.

    There are currently twenty one players with this DP label in MLS, and I have grouped each one of these players into a specific category based on their 2012 performances so far. From those who are more than earning their paycheck (Thierry Henry) to those who aren't quite the fan favorites (Rafa Marquez), I have placed each DP into one of four groups that explains their current play this season.

    Enjoy!

DPs with Excused Absences

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    David Ferreira

    After suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year, Ferreira hoped to start off 2012 with the same tone he finished his 2010 MVP season with.

    Unfortunately, Ferreira just can’t seem to stay off the sidelines as another foot injury has forced him to have surgery and sit out every game so far this year. The FC Dallas playmaker hopes to be back in the next couple of weeks. 

    Torsten Frings

    Frings was fantastic at the beginning of the season and during the CCL quarterfinals, but an injury kept him off the pitch for most of March and April. Suddenly Toronto’s winless record seems a bit more explainable.

    Juan Pablo Angel

    The Chivas USA star has been out for much of the season and has put in very limited minutes. Although his last game did look promising, there just hasn’t been enough playing time to fairly judge his 2012 performance. 

    Mauro Rosales

    The Seattle No. 10 has been out for most of the season with a nagging knee injury. While Rosales did start the last game against the Fire, he has yet to play a full 90 minutes for the Sounders all season long. Until then, no judgment can be made about the Argentine DP. 

DPs Who Need to Step It Up

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    Rafa Marquez

    Is there anything really left to say? Four-and-a-half million dollars for a lazy defender who has been suspended for half the season and underperformed the other half.

    I would say more, but I'll stop since you probably have read your fair share of Rafa hate on the web already.

    Hamdi Salihi

    Wasn’t he supposed to be the stud scorer of this DC United offense? Salihi has turned from the potential savior to impotent sub in just a matter of weeks and is not exactly doing anything to help his reputation.

    The Albanian must pick it up if he wants to avoid the "bust" label. 

    Branko Boskovic

    Much like Salihi, Boskovic is currently on the outside looking in on the DC United First XI not because of injury, but because he is simply being outperformed.

    With De Ro, Deleon, Kitchen, and Cruz all playing magnificently under Ben Olsen, it is no surprise that the Serbian international has found his way to the bench lately. Olsen is proving he is not going to let the weight of contracts determine who he puts in the lineup week in and week out.

    Julian De Guzman

    If you haven’t watched Toronto FC play yet this season (and be honest, you probably haven’t), then you might not even know De Guzman still plays in this league!

    After three incredibly disappointing seasons to start his MLS career, De Guzman’s form doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon as the DP has yet to record even a shot on goal.

    Playing just three complete games dating back to last September and still underperforming in almost all facets of the game for three seasons, De Guzman shouldn’t need another wake-up call to start earning his paycheck.

    Fredy Montero

    Montero was expected by many to have an absolute breakout season for the Sounders and officially establish himself as one of the league’s elite.

    Sadly, through six games, the Colombian has yet to record a goal or assist and has a SOG percentage of just over 25 percent. For a guy making DP money, you have to be able to hit the net more than once every four shots!

    While starting seasons slow is becoming sort of a habit for him, Montero is going to get far less sympathy now that he is getting paid the big bucks. 

DPs Who Are Neither Stunning nor Disappointing

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    Eric Hassli

    Hassli has yet to record a goal all season, but considering the plethora of attacking options Vancouver added to the squad this offseason, can he really be blamed for his lack of statistical production?

    Hassli has not quite hit his stride yet in 2012, but I’m sure he is just a goal away from gaining confidence and rolling right back into last year’s form.

    David Beckham

    While Becks so far hasn’t gotten into the same groove he rode all last year, that might not be his fault. The Galaxy’s over-exhaustion and tough schedule to start the season has caused the whole team, not just Beckham, to underperform.

    Give him a few more weeks and I’m sure we will have deja-vu moments of last season. 

    Danny Koevermans

    With Frings on the sidelines, TFC was hoping for their other million-dollar baby, Danny Koevermans, to step up and carry this team. That has not been the case.

    However, due to the injuries sustained by the veteran so far this season he earns a break. Just know that you are not off the hook yet, Danny! 

    Brek Shea

    While Brek does have three goals to his name this season, he hasn’t really done much in terms of offensive production. Call it tiredness, overly high expectations, or simply lack of form—Shea is not exactly putting forth the performances that earned him serious USMNT minutes last fall.

    It is not that Shea hasn’t been good, just not the Tony the Tiger "Greeeat” that we have come to expect from him. 

    Diego Chara

    While on some nights Chara can be the best player on the pitch, others he goes completely missing for long periods of time.

    However, considering he barely is making a six-figure salary, one cannot criticize Chara’s DP label too much this season. Nevertheless, his streaky play is what keeps him in this mediocre group for now.

    Alvaro Saborio

    The Costa Rican really hasn’t broken out yet this season for RSL. Sabo has scored just once since March, and that includes Salt Lake’s crazy April schedule that featured games seemingly every day.

    There is nothing to really complain about, but nothing to really complement either. Simply put, Saborio is just being average. 

    Alvaro Fernandez

    With the Sounders playing limited games and Fernandez battling a little bit of an injury, we haven’t seen much of the Uruguayan so far this year. In his few performances, Fernandez has done fine and played his role well. His highlight came against Toronto when he bagged two assists in just 65 minutes.

    Since then, he has yet to put a single shot on goal. Fernandez is playing fine so far, but we should expect more from him in the upcoming months. 

DPs Earning Their Paycheck

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    Thierry Henry

    Other than possibly running a bit too hard in the open field last Saturday, can you really point out any flaws by the Frenchman so far this season? Nine goals in eight games is incredible production, even for a DP being paid five million dollars a year.

    Quite frankly, Henry is putting the entire NY team on his back and single-handedly earning both his and Rafa Marquez’s salary.

    Landon Donovan

    While Donovan struggled at the start of the season, he really has been coming into his own the last couple of weeks. He has scored two goals in the last three games and is earning his team free kicks in the attacking third better than any other player in the league right now.

    His early season slump is gone, and LD10 is back to doing what we have come to expect him to do.

    Robbie Keane

    While many expected Robbie Keane to come into this season and absolutely tear up MLS, his performances have not been exactly thrilling. There are plenty of opportunities that he has had this season that we would anticipate him putting away.

    Nevertheless, Keane was bought to score goals and sell tickets and, for the most part, is doing his job.

    Shalrie Joseph

    Whether it’s on the backline, in central midfield, or even in the attacking third, Joseph has been quite strong so far for the Revs. His versatility has been essential to the Revs' campaign so far, and he even has been distributing more effectively than past years.

    Overall, Joseph is doing his part for New England.

    Kris Boyd

    Any DP striker that is bought is expected to supply a good amount of the team goals, and that is exactly what Boyd has done so far this year. With nearly half of Portland’s goals this season, Boyd is certainly filling the role John Spencer brought him in for.

    While he probably should have a few more goals to his name considering his opportunities so far, without his stellar positioning, those chances aren’t created anyway. This is only the beginning for the talented Scotsman.