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Ranking all Designated Players in MLS this season

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With nearly a third of the season completed, lets look at the MLS teams that made great choices recruiting or rewarding players with DP contracts.

Lampard: worst DP signing in MLS history?
Lampard: worst DP signing in MLS history?
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

One of the key moments in the growth of MLS was the introduction of the Designated Player rule. From David Beckham to Kaka, many illustrious players with impressive pedigrees have made the move to ply their trade in North America. But how is the current crop of DPs doing this season?

I've ranked them in five (well, six really ... see below) categories.

The FIVE STARS  ... the elite of the elite ... Only two players qualify so far in 2016:

  • Sebastian Giovinco: ... the best player in the league, continues to excel ...TFC's only chance at glory
  • David Villa ... the MVP in MLS this season ... the inspiration for NYCFC ... still a great striker
FOUR STARS ... not quite at the level of the Atomic Ant or El Guaje ... but players who have repaid their team's confidence in them ... in spades.
  • Chris Wondolowski ... just does one thing: score ... his movement off the ball is exceptional
  • Ignacio Piatti ... Impact fans should consider themselves lucky to watch him play
  • Drogba ... could be in the above category without his reluctance to play on turf ... his sequence late last season was simply phenomenal
  • Jermaine Jones ... his arrival has made the Colorado Rapids a serious threat to go all the way
  • Fabian Castillo ... one of the purest young talents in MLS ...should be on his way to Europe
  • Kaka ... class, silky passing ... leadership and a great ambassador for Orlando and the league
  • Giovani Dos Santos ... finally getting up to speed and creating for the Galaxy ... a joy to watch
  • Valeri ... a master of the set piece, creative heart of a very talented midfield in Portland
  • Kei Kamara ... a humanitarian off the field with a monstrous hunger for goals on the pitch
  • Robbie Keane ... best DP signing in MLS history ... until Giovinco passes him in a couple of years
The THREE STARs group:
  • Kevin Doyle: the Irish international is thriving alongside Jones
  • Federico Higuain: the heart of the Crew ... more space on the big stage for him now that Kamara is gone
  • Diaz: another great young talent ... epitomizes FCD's  élan and dynamism
  • Carlos Gruezo: a great find by the scouts from FCD
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips: a slow start to the season but someone who'll make the RBNY a danger later in 2016
  • Juan Manual Martinez: "Burrito" has skills up there with the best of them.
  • Graham Zusi: is getting back to the form that makes him a bona fide US international
  • Matt Besler: also regaining his form and leading SKC through a tough spell
  • Michael Bradley: almost in the category above ... but will probably be there by the end of the year
  • Pedro Morales: great vision in midfield, a solid presence to help lead the young Whitecaps
  • Matias Laba: one of the best defensive mids in MLS ... allows offensive players in Vancouver to do their thing
The TWO STARS grouping ... perhaps under-performing or even deceptions:
  • David Accam ... sadly for the Fire ... the best of their three DPs
  • Shelkzen Gashi ... there only because he's still learning the particularities of MLS ...will move up the rankings
  • Fabian Espindola: a great sub off the bench at this stage of his career
  • DeMarcus Beasley: Houston's workhorse on the flank ... still useful but best years are behind
  • Steven Gerrard: still finds the MLS hard to adjust to ... glimpses of his ample skills are often evident though
  • Andrea Pirlo: the maestro's game is not ideally suited to MLS, especially at home where the small pitch makes his work space crawl with adversaries
  • Liam Ridgewell: maybe the Timbers wanted to start a new movement: bring EPL journeymen defenders over and give them big bucks ... effective but money wasted as a DP investment
  • Yura Movsysyan: a return to RSL seemed like a sure fire thing ... not quite
  • Matias Perez Garcia: can show some brilliance in the build up to plays but very inconsistent
  • Simon Dawkins: why a DP at all ?
  • Clint Dempsey: seems to be nearing the end of the road
  • Nelson Valdez: not having the hoped for impact in Seattle
The ONE STAR gang ... the lame ducks ... the head scratchers of the lot ...
  • Kennedy Igboanike: ... lots of speed ... but what else ?
  • Gilberto: a big scrappy centre forward ...who doesn't seem to want to mix it up anymore
  • Gonzalo Veron: being worked into he line up very slowly by the Red Bulls ... but to what end?
  • Bryan Rochez and Carlos Rivas: signed by Orlando to mostly sit on the bench ...
  • Diego Rubio: one has to assume that SKC made an investment looking way into the future
  • Octavio Rivero: tries hard ... but a striker needs to score ...
  • Jozy Altidore: the most over rated player in MLS ... and see note abovre re: Rivero
In a special category of their own:
Maurice Edu ... would be ranked if healthy ... a real class player

And, introducing the worst DP signing in MLS history ... the Chelsea Legend ... none other than Frank Lampard ... busy collecting fat pay checks and not much else in New York.

What's your analysis?