DP vs. DP3 in the Big Apple
Half the teams in Major League Soccer can boast a designated player in their ranks, none more recent than San Jose’s acquisition of Brazilian playmaker Geovanni last week.
One team has moved to the forefront of the DP arms race with three to their name: the New York Red Bulls.
Four of the 13 designated players in the MLS will be on the same field when the San Jose Earthquakes invade Red Bull Arena on Saturday. We’re talking about former Arsenal and FC Barcelona star Thierry Henry, Mexican National Team captain Rafael Marquez, Red Bulls veteran Juan Pablo Angel and giant-killer Geovanni competing on the pitch.
That’s a lot of high-profile talent for a league that is increasingly venturing into foreign markets.
“I think that we can’t get out of control with it,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. “We’ve got to make sure that the players that are getting designated, if you like, will make sure that they are a big impact to the teams. So we’re hoping that Geovanni will do that for us too.”
Geovanni provides San Jose with a much-needed scoring threat. He’s a player that can create scoring chances as well as provide highlight-reel plays. An accomplished player with Hull City FC and Manchester City in the English Premier League, and with world-class clubs FC Barcelona and Benfica, the Earthquakes are hoping that Geovanni can come in and make an immediate impact on the team.
Looking across the league, if there was one designated player to emulate, it might be Angel.
Angel came to New York in 2007 from Aston Villa and achieved immediate success. In his first season in the MLS, Angel finished second in the league in goals scored (19) and was an MLS Best XI selection, an MLS MVP finalist, the leading vote getter for the MLS All-Star Game and was named the All-Star Game MVP.
Angel has continued to produce at a high rate, amassing a franchise-record 57 goals in 93 career appearances.
By adding the all-time French goals leader Henry and Mexican National Team icon Marquez, the Red Bulls present a different challenge to the Earthquakes than the team that fell 4-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium on May 8.
“I think if you look at New York going forward now, they’re dangerous. I like that (designated players) are exciting for fans. I think that’s the type of players we need to sign. Not too many but let’s make sure that we do it the right way, which we have so far I think.”
Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski is of a similar mindset. While bringing in designated players with well-established reputations attracts the casual soccer fan, it must be done responsibly.
“You want to keep bringing in top-quality players and I still think that we’re going to keep getting guys more and more in their prime. I think that can only bring good to the league,” Wondolowski said.
With 11 games left in the regular season, the Earthquakes are currently sitting in second place in the Wild Card standings with 29 points. New York has nine games remaining and is in second place in the Eastern Conference with 34 points.
Will an addition like Geovanni help the Quakes reach the playoffs for the first time since rejoining the league in 2008? Time will tell.
For the moment, soccer fans can enjoy what should be a highly-competitive match on Saturday, DP vs. DP3.