I was originally going to combine this with a look at the roster so far, with an eye on what kind of salary room the Timbers still have to operate in (I'll be posting that late tonight likely, lets just say they have ALOT of flexibility still), but I saw a few comments that I wanted to weigh in on now.
1) Chara counts as a DP for the entire length of his contract (or until he's cut, as MLS contracts are not guaranteed). Even if he's making less than 335k (likely), the cost of his transfer fee is amortized across the length of the contract. Should he stay here past his contract (I haven't seen anything set in stone, but its likely a 4 year contract, or a 2 year plus 2 team option years that are extremely common in MLS), and be making less than 335k (or whatever the DP threshold is at that time) he wouldn't be considered a DP at that time. Its possible that the Timbers could renegotiate a deal at some point and pay off the balance of the transfer fee in allocation money, allowing them to add another DP if that's desired.
2) Valencia also counts as a DP for exactly the same reason. Its likely his transfer fee was significantly higher than Chara's given his age/promise, but I would be surprised if he was making much more than 100k in salary himself. However, because he is only 20, he qualifies under new MLS rules that lessen the cap hit of younger DPs, meaning he only counts $150k against our cap, even though his salary + amortized transfer fee is > 335k.
3) If we sign a 3rd DP, we are required to pay $250k to the league to be distributed to teams that don't sign a 3rd DP. This means Merritt is really opening up his pocket to sign this guy.
4) If, given what Merritt has said that we are looking for a DP that is a true #9 forward, this defensive signing today, whoever it is, is not a DP. That means they are likely on a free transfer.
5) All the talk about a USMNT player needs to be understood in the context that all returning USMNT players, whose rights are un-owned by an MLS team, are allocated via an established order based on finishing position with any expansion team representing the first team in line. That means unless we can trade up and take someone else's spot (very spotty/hard to say with any definitiveness), we would have no chance to sign said player. We do however own Findley and Bornstein's rights, however, but at the same time, I can't see any likelihood either returning this winter. Findley is playing regularly and Bornstein is making the 18 (and frankly, probably making far more money than he would be with us), so I can't see a move within the next month. This summer however could be a different story. Additionally, the only way around the allocation order for USMNT players is to make that person a DP offer. However, there is not even really a true #9 in the USMNT pool currently (maybe Altidore), but even then, none of them are likely to be coming back anytime soon, even for a DP offer.
6) I expect to see another potential starter that could perhaps see time in the midfield or out wide, and am hoping we see that DP forward Merritt has hinted about (a takeaway from the salary cap numbers, there was no chance we could sign a DP with Cooper on the roster....so him getting moved was to facilitate this one). I expect both to be internationals.