MLS announced Thursday that it will expand its designated player (DP) rule, effective immediately. All 16 MLS clubs now have the opportunity to sign at least two designated players.

The designated player rule, which has been in effect since 2007, is a mechanism that allows an individual club to pay one player any amount above a fixed salary budget charge. The club salary budgets are an expense shared by all MLS owners.

The change also gives MLS teams the option of "purchasing" a third designated player slot for $250,000 that will be dispersed in the form of allocation money to all clubs that do not have three designated players. DP slots may be used to sign and retain existing MLS players, but can no longer be traded.

"Expanding the designated player rule is another example of MLS's commitment to providing top-level soccer for our fans," MLS executive vice president Todd Durbin said in a press release. "After three seasons, we have seen that the designated player rule improves the quality of play, creates intrigue and discussion, and enhances our clubs' distinct on-field identities. We will continue to see varied approaches from our clubs in assembling their rosters, and these changes will give them increased flexibility."

A club's salary budget will be charged $335,000 for its first DP under contract, $335,000 for its second DP under contract and $335,000 if it signs a third DP. If a DP joins a club's roster in the middle of the season, that club's salary budget for the year will be charged $167,500.

MLS' current transfer window for teams to acquire foreign players concludes April 15.

MLS currently has only five designated players: Los Angeles' David Beckham, New York's Juan Pablo Angel, Seattle's Freddie Ljungberg, Houston's Luis Angel Landin and Toronto's Julian de Guzman.

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