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League rules conspire to help the Crew

MLS HQ has had a long history of bumping star players pay and getting them to glitzy destinations. Nearly 20 years later the league still pays to bring in talent, but the destination isn't always the big cities.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

From the news that's not news file, the league has a fund that helps teams bring in players. MLS has long had a penchant for helping bring in top talent and often usually assigning them to big markets. Jorge Campos, Carlos Valderrama, and Roberto Donadoni were international stars that the league brought in during the 1990's and MLS stepped up to sign Clint Dempsey this season and get him to the Sounders.

The league's new program, the much rumored "league Designated Player" was confirmed by Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth in an interview with Dan Walsh of the Philly Soccer Page. The league DP fund helps teams to bring in young attacking players by providing matching funds to cover the investment (salary and fees) a team makes. The interview listed Colorado's Gabriel Torres, Max Urruti signing by Toronto FC, and Diego Valeri of Portland as players that have come to the league via this extra assistance.

Columbus wasn't left out. The Crew were able to bring in Federico Higuain under this method with the league chipping in. The league would provide up to $1 million of matching funds for investment. This would be more than enough to help cover the reported $650 thousand transfer fee that Colon required for his services in 2013.

None of the stories have delved into how often a team can use this money. A similar program, the league retention funds are a pool of money that can be used across several players for a set timeframe. It's unclear if the league DP pool works in a similar way or if it is a one time amount.

It's clear that the league is reinvesting heavily in the product on the field. The league DP is geared to attract attacking talent that wouldn't otherwise come to the league and the retention fund programs invest significant money back into keeping players that might otherwise consider heading to mid-tier European leagues such as Kansas City's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

The Crew have already found their attacker and will have more help from MLS once they identify a young core that may be thinking of heading towards the better pay of Europe. That's a change from the early days and one that shows up on the field.