I've never been a fan of the single-entity structure of Major League Soccer (MLS) - and that's even as I understand why the league went that way. It's probably the theoretical libertarian in me that chafes at centralized authority (I say "theoretical libertarian" because, like communism, libertarianism looks swell till you introduce actual human beings into the machinery....anyway...).
As it turns out, no lesser figure than Pele - that's right: The Big Man - sees it my way, as revealed in an interview USSoccerplayers.com was dogged (or lucky) enough to score:
"USSoccerPlayers: What is the difference between the NASL and MLS, and what needs to be done to make soccer even more mainstream in this country?"
"Pelé: The way [MLS] is now is too controlling. If you want to sign a big player, you can’t because you are controlled. A team can’t go out and buy five great players because there are too many controls put on them. This will have to change in the future. In Europe, teams can buy whatever players they want."
Now, I confess to parting company with The Big Man when it comes to MLS clubs "[going] out and [buying] five great players" - the league can't swing that and probably won't be able to for years. That said, all the clubs should not have to wait for the Central Authority to hold their dicks before they pee.
Here's my off-the-top-of-my-head re-structuring plan: ditch the designated player rule and set a hard salary cap about twice the current one of $2.2-$2.6 million (or whatever the hell it is); this applies only to money being paid out directly by the club. In order to sweeten the pot to lure harder-to-get players, allow the clubs to arrange sponsorship deals for the players in order to pad their pay. Naturally, the big market teams will enjoy an edge at this point, so you balance that by giving more of the TV revenue to help the smaller market teams get decent players; obviously, such a plan assumes sports networks will continue to buy TV rights; I think getting more, higher-caliber players ought to help make that pencil out.
Will this work? Oh good Lord, no! Or, rather, it probably won't...or hell, I don't know. But I like the Big Picture piece: set guidelines that will keep things tight and let the teams run themselves. It's just a thought.