MLS has a very strict salary cap of $2.55 million that by itself would prevent teams from purchasing high level talent from around the world. But the designated player rule has allowed teams to bring European stars like David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg, or hold onto stars like Landon Donovan. But San Jose has never signed a designated player in its history ... yet.
It appears that is about to change now that their official website has started a transfer window guessing game:
Are the Quakes trying to sign Alessandro Del Piero? Maybe Riquelme? Leonel Messi? Vote now and we'll Tweet a hint about the potential signing at 9 p.m. PT. The result with the most votes will be revealed tonight. Are the Quakes looking to pick up a big-time goal scorer? A No. 10? A stalwart defender? Do you have a better chance of decoding the mystery by knowing one of the player's former teams or leagues?
The fans quite sensibly voted to find out one of the mystery player's former clubs. And the thrilling answer, via the Earthquake's official twitter? Benfica, one of the top clubs in Portugal. Trying to guess which former Benfica player is now coming to San Jose is a tall task. Conventional wisdom is that San Jose needs to pick up a goalscorer that can add some verve to a toothless attack. San Jose is hurting for defenders, but a number of players are expected to return from injury soon, while attack is a long term issue.
There is one intriguingly unlikely possibility. If the mystery player is an American looking to return home to play, there is one well-known footballer who used to play for Benfica: the mercurial, maddening Freddy Adu. He may never realize his talent, but if San Jose wanted to get themselves noticed, that would be a gutsy way to do so.