In the 10 years since David Beckham changed MLS by signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy–the anniversary of that monumental day was Wednesday–there have been over 100 Designated Players in the league–players deemed valuable enough for club owners to pay expanded salaries, with only some of it counting towards the team’s salary cap. Of those players, some have earned their way up to DP status after getting drafted out of college (like Clint Dempsey), signing with the league before DPs were a thing (like Landon Donovan) or signing at a lower salary and then getting a much-deserved raise (like Bradley Wright-Phillips).
Still, most DPs signed with the league as one. And though the exact outlook on DPs has shifted as the rule has evolved in the last decade, the idea is basically the same: If you’re a DP, you better bring something of value on the field, and a bit of value off the field wouldn’t be half-bad, either.
To celebrate 10 years of the Designated Player, we ranked the 10 best and worst signings who joined the league as DPs. The primary criteria for inclusion on the “best” list is good play on the field, but players who boosted their team in other, less-tangible ways will get a boost in the rankings. As for the “worst” list...well, there have been some pretty big swings and misses despite ambitious outlays of money.
Here are the 10 best and worst Designated Player signings in MLS history: