MLS caused a bit of a stir with a post on its official site recently. No, not that one. Over at mlssoccer.com, there appeared a review of the Designated Players on each club. Standard sort of rainy-day work for just about any outlet covering MLS. But this one contained news:
Say what? Everyone knows that RBNY's are Gonzalo Veron, newly-acquired Omer Damari, and the club's all-time top scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Here's a snippet from an article over at Sounder At Heart on the same subject - a review of DPs around the league - published in June, before Damari landed at RBNY.
What gives, MLS? What happened to BWP?
Nothing. Nothing happened to BWP. He's still at RBNY, plundering goals and forcing his way into the conversation about the league's MVP (an ironic twist in his career, since the league and its acolytes spent a lot of time in 2014 trying to force him out of the same conversation).
He is, however, not a DP for RBNY any more. Per a statement from a spokesperson for the New York Red Bulls:
Last year BWP was a DP and Sacha was a TAM player. Given their contracts and MLS rules, there was the opportunity to switch their status which was advantageous for our salary cap.
Fair enough. All dollars spend the same in the real world. BWP is still getting paid and scoring goals. Sacha Kljestan is still getting paid and setting goals up. DP status doesn't make a jot of difference to what they are supposed to do on the field and how well they do it.
And maybe they will be switched again next season. The statement from the club on the subject notes that the switch in status for BWP and Sacha came in March - at the start of the season, presumably as Ali Curtis rationalized the roster that emerged from pre-season to maximize his ability to go out and make fresh deals later in the year.
Curtis is an exceptional manager of the club's obligations to the MLS roster rules, and will no doubt continue to shuffle and tweak the status of players in the squad in any way he can that will bring the team the one thing it always needs: flexibility in the transfer market.
For reasons that cannot be explained, MLS has also obliterated BWP's former DP status with RBNY. He is not currently listed among the team's former Designated Players.
Have some respect for yourself, MLS. Get your lists right.
BWP was a DP - that was a status officially announced and celebrated by the club and no one is saying it didn't happen. But he isn't any longer. He has still got the deal that made him a DP. He is still the most productive goal scorer the team has ever known.
But RBNY and Ali Curtis of course reserve the right to play around with the rules they've been given to work with by MLS in any way they can to bring advantage to the team.
For now, RBNY's DPs are Omer Damari, Sacha Kljestan, and Gonzalo Veron. And all this episode has to teach us is that we will not necessarily know immediately when that changes.