FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In need of attacking reinforcements, the New England Revolution made a major splash on Tuesday afternoon when the club announced the signing of Argentine forward Milton Caraglio as its first-ever Designated Player.
Caraglio, 22, is expected to join his new teammates for training on Thursday and could make his MLS debut at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night against Chivas USA should he receive his International Transfer Certificate prior to the weekend. The former Rosario Central striker arrived in Foxborough on Wednesday morning and spent the afternoon undergoing his entrance physical.
“He’s a big target forward,” said Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns, who noted the Revolution’s scouting of Caraglio was done via video tapes and recommendations. “He’s a stereotypical number nine. He’s six-foot-two, 190 pounds, so he has good size.
“We’ve made no secret about it over the past few months that this summer window we were looking to add at least one attacking player, and we’re still going to look to add another one by the fifteenth of August,” Burns added. “We feel like we’ve addressed a need that we’ve been trying to address for the last few months.”
In addressing their need for help in the goal-scoring department, the Revs made use of the Designated Player status for the first time in club history. With the Revolution’s signing of Caraglio, only Chivas USA, the Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union have never signed a Designated Player, while three clubs – the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes – have employed DPs in the past but don’t currently have one on their roster.
The move aligns with a recent league-wide shift in philosophy with regards to Designated Players, which are more and more frequently being signed primarily for competitive reasons and less so for their previously critical off-the-field marketability.
“This is purely a move for competitive reasons,” Burns said with regards to Caraglio, who had 11 goals in 49 appearances with Rosario Central in Argentina’s Primera Division. “I think if you look around the league and the number of Designated Players that exist now in the league, very, very few of them are moving the needle off the field. You have a couple of exceptions, obviously, but other than that, most MLS clubs are bringing in Designated Players more for competitive reasons, in my opinion, than for commercial.”
But while Burns admits it was a significant move for the Revolution to sign its first Designated Player, he’s adamant the club wasn’t intent on signing a DP simply for the sake of saying they’d done it. Instead, New England’s technical staff was focused on improving the team, no matter what that process entailed.
“First and foremost, our number one objective was to bring in help, whether that was non-Designated Player status or Designated Player status,” said Burns. “I don’t want to say that’s irrelevant, because it is somewhat relevant. But our job is to try to make the team as competitive as possible.
“In this particular case, this player wasn’t a free player, so there’s loan fees and transfer fees and all that adds up,” Burns continued, referencing some of the costs which contributed to Caraglio’s DP status. “If we had our druthers, this would’ve been done on July 15 as soon as the window opened, but sometimes, for whatever reason, it gets dragged out a little bit. We’re just glad we were able to get it done and get him signed.”
One of Caraglio’s most attractive qualities – besides his on-field talent – is his age. At just 22 years old, Caraglio already has four years of experience playing against some of the best competition in South America, but the powerful striker is young enough to have a long and successful career ahead of him.
With Caraglio’s arrival, the Revs hope they’ve secured a partial cure for their recent goal-scoring woes for many years to come.
“As far as age goes, he’s inexperienced, but he’s got experience in terms of playing professionally in Argentina for a 22-year-old,” said Burns. “So the fact that we feel like we’re getting a young player, an attacking player, at 22, who we’ve signed for multiple years, we feel like the upside is tremendous.”
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