Friday's unveiling of Milton Valenzuela as a Young Designated Player on loan ahead of Crew SC's 2018 preseason camp in Casa Grande, Ariz., provided a crucial piece to the puzzle that is the Black & Gold's developing roster.
Valenzuela, a 19-year-old defensive dynamo from the renowned Newell's Old Boys Academy, joins Crew SC brimming with bulk benefits. Aside from his more apparent tactical and technical abilities, the value that Berhalter and Crew SC get for the new full back is as simple as this: Valenzuela brings Designated Player pedigree while hitting Columbus' 2018 salary budget for just $200,000.
That salary budget hit is comparable to Atlanta United FC defender and U.S. International Greg Garza's 2017 salary — as reported by the MLS Players Association. According to the information published by the MLSPA, other league veterans at the $200,000-or-below salary level in 2017 are reigning-MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City), former Atlanta United winger Yamil Asad, and 2015 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC).
As defined by MLS, Valenzuela will carry the Young Designated Player Budget Charge, which is determined by year of birth. Being born in 1998, MLS classifies Valenzuela as a 20-year-old for the 2018 season. If Crew SC executes its option to permanently transfer Valenzuela following the 2018 season, Valenzuela would also carry the same $200,000 salary budget hit until the year he turns 23 — enhancing the budgetary benefit until 2021.
MLS clubs are allowed two Designated Players without penalty, but have the choice to add a third Designated Player via a $150,000 fee that's split among clubs (as General Allocation Money) with two or fewer Designated Players.
You may have read that Crew SC utilized Targeted Allocation Money on Jonathan Mensah this season after Mensah was a Designated Player in 2017, thus enabling Crew SC to bring in Valenzuela as the team’s third Designated Player, with Federico Higuain and Pedro Santos. Per MLS (see below), clubs that use the third Designated Player slot for a Young Designated Player will not be obligated to pay the aforementioned $150,000 fee for a third DP.
The Designated Player Rule allows clubs to acquire up to three players whose total compensation and acquisition costs exceed the maximum budget charge, with the club bearing financial responsibility for the amount of compensation above each player's budget charge. Designated Players may be new players signed to MLS via the Allocation Ranking List, Discovery Process or can be re-signed existing players on a team's roster.
A player's budget charge, and therefore Designated Player status, is determined by averaging all amounts payable over the guaranteed contract term excluding option years.
Option year compensation is not included in the budget charge calculation unless the option includes an automatic performance trigger whose terms would elevate a player's category from non-DP to Designated Player status. In such a case, the option year will be considered part of the guaranteed contract term.
Option year compensation is not included in the budget charge (in determining DP status) if the automatic trigger is based upon a performance target of at least 65% MLS League Season starts.
In 2017, a Designated Player that is 24-years-old or older during the league year will carry the Maximum Budget Charge ($480,625) unless the player joins his club after the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window, in which case his budget charge will be $240,312.
Young Designated Player
A Designated Player 23 years old or younger during the league year (age of player is determined by year - not date - of birth) will carry the following Young Designated Player Budget Charge:
Ages 20 and younger: $150,000
Ages 21-23: $200,000
If such Designated Player joins the club after the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window, he will carry the Mid-Season Youth Designated Player Salary Budget Charge of $150,000 regardless of age.
Clubs may "buy down" the budget charge of a Designated Player with General Allocation money. The reduced charge may not be less than $150,000.
Each MLS Club shall be allotted two Designated Player slots. Clubs with two Designated Players may add a third Designated Player by paying $150,000 to the league which shall be split among clubs with two or fewer occupied Designated Player slots for use as General Allocation Money the following MLS Season. Clubs must pay the $150,000 fee every year in which a third Designated Player spot is occupied on the club's roster.
If a club uses the third Designated Player slot to sign a Young Designated Player, then the Club will not be obligated to pay the $150,000 charge.
Designated Player spots are not tradable.
All in all, the product of the same hometown and youth academy as Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Crew SC's Gaston Sauro, and fellow MLSers Maxi Urruti and Ignacio Piatti will rock the Black & Gold with an enormous potential career trajectory, as well as financial benefit to the 2017 Eastern Conference finalist.
Under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, the 2018 MLS Preseason continues in Casa Grande, for its preseason camp. Crew SC is slated to remain in Arizona through February 6 before traveling to Honolulu, Hawaii, to participate in the inaugural Pacific Rim Cup from February 6-11. Following the conclusion of the Pacific Rim Cup, the club travels to Charleston, South Carolina to participate in the 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup.