MLS would subsidize Beckham-caliber DP for Canadian clubs - Don Garber

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says the league would subsidize its Canadian franchises to bring in a DavidBeckham-caliber designated player.

Garber was in Vancouver on Monday at a town hall with fans and media ahead of the beginning of the 2017 MLS season, which kicks off on Friday, March 3.

The commissioner talked about MLS's efforts to grow the league in Canada -- home to Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps -- and make its franchises there "more relevant."

"We're very focused on the three clubs we have representing very large cities in this county -- representing 50 percent of the population -- and our task is to make sure those clubs become more relevant," Garber said in quotes appearing in the Vancouver Sun.

"Our task over the next number of years is to connect the dots between those three cities, and create a national fan base. I don't believe we need additional teams to achieve that."

One of the options the league would consider, according to Garber, is subsidizing moves by its Canadian franchises to bring big-name players born in the country back home. The commissioner likened the rationale for the idea to the league's thinking when it helped the LA Galaxy acquire Beckham in 2007.

"We're doing [this] for the same reason we subsidized LA to bring in David Beckham -- because we believed that's in the best interests of Major League Soccer."

Garber talked about bringing back a Canadian international such as Atiba Hutchinson, who currently plays in the Turkish league for Besiktas, as the type of player he had in mind for a subsidized DP.

"I know there has been interest in bringing Atiba home," Garber said. "I don't know why a deal was never done with him, so I can't comment on that. As we did with the top American players, we do need to bring as many of the top Canadian players home to Canada to play in Major League Soccer.

"We want our league and our clubs to be a league of choice."