MLS votes in favor of vets

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After a vote by the MLS Board of Governors on Friday, the Los Angeles Galaxy will be able to keep star forward Landon Donovan next season without having to acquire a second Designated Player slot, has learned.

Donovan was among a group of so-called "grandfathered players" (including Kansas City's Eddie Johnson and FC Dallas' Carlos Ruiz) who were allowed not to count as Designated Players this season even though they earned more than $400,000 (the cut-off figure for DPs). They were grandfathered because those salaries were in effect before the DP rule was put into place in November 2006.

However, Donovan, Johnson and Ruiz were set to become full-fledged DPs in 2008. Since David Beckham already counts as a DP for the Galaxy, L.A. was going to have to acquire a second DP slot in order to keep Donovan in 2008. (Teams are allowed no more than two DP slots, which are tradeable.)

After Friday's vote, however, Donovan, Johnson and Ruiz will continue not to count as Designated Players, and the Galaxy will not have to give up a significant asset in order to obtain a second DP slot.

"I think it's the right thing to do," Donovan told Friday night. "Neither Dallas, Kansas City nor the Galaxy should be punished for getting players early [before the DP rule was passed] and then suddenly having the rule put them at a disadvantage. Other teams might have different opinions, though."

Donovan's guaranteed salary is $900,000 in 2007; Johnson's is $875,000; and Ruiz's is $435,000.

MLS had five Designated Players this season: Beckham ($6.5 million); Chicago's Cuauhtémoc Blanco ($2.7 million); New York's Juan Pablo Ángel ($1.6 million) and Claudio Reyna ($1.3 million); and Dallas' Denilson ($880,000).