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You can practically trace the evolution of Major League Soccer's Designated Player rule by going through the history of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who visit Allianz Field on Wednesday evening.

The rule was invented so the Galaxy could sign David Beckham. It was changed so Landon Donovan could stay in Los Angeles. Robbie Keane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chicharito: all Galaxy DPs, all representing an evolution of how teams signed their most expensive players, and all first-page names in the history of MLS.

The Galaxy's current DPs are excellent players but not recognizable names.

On paper, Minnesota United might finally have achieved parity with Los Angeles in this category. The Galaxy's current DPs are excellent players, but none move the needle like the Beckhams and Zlatans of old. The Loons' current crop of Emanuel Reynoso, Teemu Pukki and Robin Lod might even have the Galaxy's trio beat, in terms of name recognition.

In terms of production, though, L.A.'s big-name players are getting on the score sheet — and two of Minnesota's are not.

Reynoso's decision to take another unexcused sabbatical in Argentina has made him persona non grata with MNUFC. He finally returned to town this week, after nearly two months away, but the club simply does not want to talk about him, beyond annoyed-sounding official statements.

We don't know why Reynoso chose to stay away, but whatever the reason, it's hard to imagine that his teammates are going to be particularly forgiving.

Kervin Arriaga just played a game three days after his second child was born. Wil Trapp is getting "routine injections" so he can push himself through another 90 minutes of running. Pukki used the team's bye week to see his family in Finland, including a newborn who just arrived at the beginning of preseason, but he returned on time to Minnesota.

You think these guys are going to want to hear excuses from Reynoso about why he couldn't make his flight for two months? "Out of sight, out of mind," said a tight-lipped Michael Boxall, the team captain.

On Sunday, Minnesota held an autograph signing for season ticket holders at MNUFC2′s home game, and most of the Loons squad — including Pukki, just returned — lined up to dutifully sign, meet and greet with fans.

Reynoso was there, too, but tellingly, he was signing autographs in the stands, not with his teammates.

Last year, the 28-year-old was warmly received when he finally returned to the Loons. This time around, there will be no party. "We've outlined clear steps he must complete before any reintegration with the first team," said a club spokesman.

Pukki, meanwhile, is a different category: present, accounted for, but without the goals to show for it.

The striker has no goals in seven games and has scored in just one of his ten appearances this year. He has yet to score a goal since Eric Ramsay took over as manager, and his playing time is dropping; he's been a substitute in two of the team's last three games and played only the first half in the other.

When Minnesota's attempt to play Pukki and Tani Oluwaseyi together in the attack went poorly from a defensive standpoint, it was Pukki and not Oluwaseyi who was removed at halftime.

Ramsay, though, is at pains to be supportive. "Of course he's frustrated because he's a born goal-scorer," the manager said. "We're really pleased with him, irrespective of how the goal tally looks."

The contrast between the 34-year-old Pukki and Oluwaseyi, who turns 24 on Wednesday, may be high age-wise, but Ramsay stressed that he thinks both can play the role he wants them to play.

"I think it's a lazy stereotype for people to think that Teemu at his age isn't someone who's going to contribute," he said. "Teemu equally gives us real energy, always. He always empties himself out on the pitch, he always pushes."

In that way, maybe the real contrast to Pukki is not Oluwaseyi, but Reynoso.

The three designated player spots at the top end of the roster are the easiest place for teams to find difference-makers in MLS. The Loons have managed to succeed this year without getting big production from two of those spots.

As the season wears on, though, getting more from those players — however that might happen — might be the easiest path to further improvement for Minnesota.