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MLS teams with open DP spots ahead of the 2023 season

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As the 2023 Major League Soccer season fast approaches, several teams are looking to sign a Designated Player. Per league rules, a team can only hold three DPs at a time.

The Designated Player Rule allows clubs to acquire up to three players whose total compensation and acquisition costs exceed the Maximum Salary Budget Charge, with the club bearing financial responsibility for the amount of compensation above each player’s Salary Budget Charge. Designated Players may be new players signed to MLS via the Allocation Ranking List or the Discovery Process, or they may be re-signed existing players on a club’s roster.

Here are the teams will open DP slots ahead of the 2023 campaign.

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Orlando City SC v Los Angeles Galaxy

Los Angeles Galaxy has one DP slot open. / Dave Bernal/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The LA Galaxy could be on the hunt for a Designated player. 

The Western Conference team has one DP slot open, after trading forward Kevin Cabral to the Colorado Rapids earlier this week. Cabral also occupied a Under 22 Initiative position on the roster, factoring into his previous role at the team. 

It’s unlikely the Galaxy will chase after another forward, as attacking players Chicharito and Douglas Costa currently hold the team’s two other Designated Player positions. 

But as one of the league’s most-recognizable brands, anything can happen.

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Toronto FC could sign a new DP.

Toronto FC could sign a new DP. / Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC currently have one DP spot open, with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi occupying the other two. 

After missing out on the Major League Soccer playoffs for the second consecutive year, team president Bill Manning addressed the possibility of bringing on a third Designated Player to boost the club. 

“We’re not going to go out and sign a Lorenzo, but we’re going to sign the right player,” Manning said. “Whatever wiggle room we need to make there, our organization has always been supportive of getting the right player.”

With several high-quality offensive players on the roster, Toronto may just look to an experienced defense to strengthen the backline. Though the team originally tried out the tactic with Mexican center back Carlos Salcedo, his quick departure after six months failed to solve anything. 

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Toronto FC concluded the 2022 campaign with a goal difference of negative 17, conceding a shocking 66 goals. 

Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri stands as one of two Chicago Fire FC DPs / Jordan Jones/GettyImages

The Chicago Fire need a Designated Player to improve. 

The team concluded the 2022 campaign in 12th place on the Eastern Conference table, managing just 39 points in 34 to miss out on the playoffs once again. 

Though the Fire currently have midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and forward Jairo Torres under DP contracts, the team certainly requires more. 

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“[We want] someone that’s a proven goalscorer because we think that to get to where we want to get, and that’s back into the playoffs, we need someone that’s a 12-plus, maybe even 15-plus goalscorer,” said head coach Ezra Hendrickson.

LAFC have one DP spot open.

LAFC have one DP spot open. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The reigning Major League Soccer champions have one Designated Player slot open. 

Carlos Vela and Denis Bouanga currently occupy two of the three allowed positions, giving way for LAFC to dream big. Historic signings Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini do not fall under the coveted rank, though the Wales figure can progress to a DP slot. 

LAFC will head into the market with no added pressure to win a trophy, after lifting the league title and Supporters’ Shield in 2023.

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Inter Miami could see several changes in 2023.

Inter Miami could see several changes in 2023. / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The team has one Designated Player position open, given Gonzalo Higuain’s recent retirement. But Inter Miami could potentially make another slot available, after a lack of interest on current figure Rodolfo Pizarro. 

The Mexican national team player was loaned to Liga MX’s Monterrey for the 2022 campaign with an option to purchase, but Rayados declined the opportunity. Though Pizarro will return to Inter Miami, it is unlikely he’ll stay with the South Florida side through 2023. 

Leonardo Campana stands as the other DP occupant. 

But things can soon change for the Herons. 

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The team is in negotiations with Lionel Messi’s representatives and are willing to meet the legendary forward’s wage demands to bring him to MLS, 90min understands.

The club have been in contact with the PSG and Argentina star’s representatives recently and, on top of being willing to meet his wage demands, Inter Miami are also willing to sign a number of players that Messi would want to play with. 

One of these players is Luis Suarez, who has recently been linked with the MLS club, as is Sergio Busquets – although the latter seems to be a less financially feasible signing. The South Florida side continues to deal with the sanctions imposed in 2021, seeing a $2,271,250 reduction in allocation dollars for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Columbus Crew SC v CF Montreal

CF Montreal currently have no DPs. / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

CF Montreal currently have no Designated Players. The team can sign three figures this offseason.

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After concluding the 2022 campaign in second place on the Eastern Conference table and managing their best-ever MLS season, Montreal will be looking to strengthen an already strong side. 

The Canadian giants are no stranger to high-profile names, having enlisted Didier Drogba, Marco Di Vaio, and Ignacio Piatti in the past. It’s unlikely the team will chase after superfluous names, but anything can happen during the transfer window.

Atlanta United FC  v Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC have one DP slot open. / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Orlando currently have Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara under DP contracts, leaving one slot open. 

The team concluded the 2022 campaign in seventh place on the Eastern Conference table with 48 points in 34 games, before failing to make an impact in the playoffs. Though the team lifted the US Open Cup, the South Florida side has the potential to do more.

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FC Dallas v Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake have one DP slot open. / George Frey/GettyImages

Real Salt Lake could soon be in the hunt for a third DP.

The team currently employs forward Jefferson Savarino and midfielder Damir Kreilach as Designated Players, leaving one coveted slot open.

The Western Conference side is headed into its first full offseason with their new ownership group, giving way for unexpected transfers and splurges.

A DP winger to play opposite of Savarino would be the most likely scenario, but a number 9 can serve the team as well. Though the Venezuelan international had seven goals and six assists in a half-season, after arriving from Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro, the team has the potential to do more damage on the attack. 

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The team was previously linked with a DP defensive midfielder, but it never came through.

2011 MLS SuperDraft

Vancouver Whitecaps have one DP slot open. / Ned Dishman/GettyImages

The Canadian giants have one Designated Play slot open, after declining the 2023 contract option for Lucas Cavallini. 

Though the number 9 was coming off of his best MLS season since joining Vancouver in 2020, the team decided to go in a different direction. Andres Cubas and Ryan Gauld currently lead the club as DPs, propelling the Canadian side to ninth on the Western Conference table to miss out on playoffs. 

Obviously, the team needs more to do better. 

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The team could easily go for another offensive option, after scoring just 40 goals in 2022, the lowest number in the Western Conference.



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Hector Bellerin joins Sporting CP from Barcelona

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Full-back Hector Bellerin has joined Sporting CP until the end of the season from Barcelona.

The Spanish international was signed by Barca in the summer but made just three La Liga appearances for the club in the first half of the season.

As such, Bellerin has now left the club in search of more first team football.

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A statement on Barcelona’s website reads regarding the move reads: “Barcelona and Sporting Clube de Portugal have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Hector Bellerin. 

“FC Barcelona would like to express publicly their gratitude to Bellerin for his commitment and his dedication and wish him all the best for the future. 

“Hector Bellerin made seven appearances for the first team. FC Barcelona announced his arrival in the summer of 2022 after he left Premier League side Arsenal as a free agent. The right back returned to the Club 11 years after leaving the youth teams at FC Barcelona to join the London club. 

“Bellerin made his first team debut on 10 September in the 4-0 win away at Cádiz, starting the game at right back. The defender went to make two more appearances in La Liga, two in the Copa del Rey and two in the Champions League.”

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Crystal Palace confirm loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga

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Crystal Palace have confirmed the deadline day loan signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Arsenal.

Lokonga featured sporadically for Arsenal during the first half of the 2022/23 season, making just two Premier League starts as the Gunners have mounted an unlikely title challenge.

The midfielder has now joined Palace on loan for the remainder of the campaign in search of more regular football.

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Speaking to the club’s official website after making the move, Lokonga said: “I’m really excited – I can’t wait to get started. I’m really happy to join Crystal Palace. I want to go as far as possible with the team. I will try to push for me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.”

Palace chairman Steve Parish was quick to praise Lokonga too, saying: “I would like to welcome Sambi to south London, and am pleased he has chosen to join Patrick’s squad for the rest of the season, after making an impressive start to life in English football.

“He has been on our radar for several years since his emergence at Anderlecht, and we very much look forward to his contribution as we push to climb the table”.

The midfielder has been replaced by Jorginho at Arsenal, with the Italian midfielder making the move across London from Chelsea to join the Gunners on a permanent deal.

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On this edition of TCOAG, Harry Symeou reacts to the news Arsenal have agreed a £12m deal to sign Jorginho from Chelsea. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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Atletico Madrid confirm signing of Matt Doherty after Tottenham contract termination

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Atletico Madrid have confirmed the signing of Matt Doherty after the player agreed a mutual termination of his Tottenham contract.

In joining Atleti, Doherty becomes the first ever Republic of Ireland international to play for one of Spain’s top three clubs.

Doherty isn’t the only wing-back to leave Tottenham on deadline day, as the Irish star follows Djed Spence out the door – with the former Forest man joining Stade Rennais on loan until the end of the season.

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A statement from Tottenham regarding the news reads: “We have mutually agreed to the termination of Matt Doherty’s contract to enable him to join another club.

“Signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August, 2020, the Republic of Ireland international made 71 appearances for us in all competitions, scoring three goals.

“We should like to thank Matt for his service and wish him well for the future.”

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Both outgoings have made way for new signing Pedro Porro, who is joining Spurs on an initial loan with an obligation to buy the player outright from Sporting CP in the summer.





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