Now that FIFA’s international transfer window is open for a few weeks, rumors are swirling about who the Crew might acquire as a designated player, which is Major League Soccer’s title for players who can be paid more than the $335,000 max salary.
(In case you’re wondering, the team-wide salary cap is $2.8 million, which is about in line with Mario Balotelli’s annual fireworks budget.)
The rule was instituted when David Beckham showed up to save American soccer in 2007, and it has been tweaked over the years so that teams can have as many as three DPs. Columbus has never had more than one at a time; right now they have none.
Like most MLS clubs, the Crew has a spotty history with this stuff. They paid Guillermo Barros Schelotto DP money one season, which was obviously well worth it. Last year they funneled half a million bucks into Andres Mendoza, a misstep that blurs the line between tragedy and comedy.
Technical director Brian Bliss has been traveling the globe in search of a top talent willing to come to Columbus. Meanwhile, the Crew released three players last weekend to clear cap room. The transfer window closes on July 27. Something is bound to happen soon, but the Crew has been relatively mum about who they’re talking to.
Negotiations with an unnamed Argentine player stalled out late last month. Then, on June 28, TheCrew.com beat writer Craig Merz tweeted that the Crew offered a DP contract to a forward whose team competed in Euro 2012 who was competing for a roster spot in the tournament but did not make the final cut. That means the player could be a snubbed striker from any of these countries: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden or Ukraine.
Furthermore, Dispatch reporter Shawn Mitchell tweeted the same day that the Crew’s targeted player is out of contract and being wooed by other teams from other leagues.
Speculation is raging on Twitter and in the Crew forum at BigSoccer.com, where fans are vehemently dissecting the clues. Dutch midfielder Ryan Babel threw a wrench in fans’ Da Vinci-level decoding when he tweeted “#Ohio” last week, but management said they have not contacted Babel.
One thing’s for sure: Whoever the Crew ends up signing, he has to do better than Mendoza, right?