Thoughts on MLS Allocation List

Thoughts on MLS Allocation List

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 14, 2008
  • 4 Comments
  • Allocation List

A week or so ago, a couple people emailed me about the MLS Allocation List. I said I would look things up and I finally got around to it. By the way, sorry for the delay on that, I’ve been busy with work lately.

Anyways, a couple people had emailed me because they were a bit confused about the system in place in MLS with allocations. This all stems from San Jose using an allocation to bring in Peguero Jean-Philippe. It turns out the Quakes were at the top of the list so they were able to get first dibs at signing Jean-Philippe.

Now the way things go these days are a bit different than before. There use to be certain allocation from the league for missing the playoffs or being an expansion club weighed heavier than other allocation. We’ve seen over the years in trades that teams would send partial allocation in exchange for draft picks and what not. That was so clubs could sign players but keep part of their salaries off the books in terms of meeting the salary cap for the year.

That isn’t much the case anymore, or at least they aren’t publicizing it anymore. The old system was too weird and complex that the league probably had to get rid of it. All old allocation actually expired last month on the day that the MLS transfer window closed.

The new system went into place at the start of the season but really took effect when the Quakes brought in Jean-Philippe.

Now how it works is similar to a waiver order that you may see in other professional sports. The teams are ranked in previous order from the year before based on how they finished. So in this case when the season started San Jose (expansion club) was on top followed by Toronto; and Houston was on the bottom due to their winning of the MLS Cup.

The reason why I say to think of it like a waiver system is because once one team uses their allocation on a player, in this instance San Jose using it on Jean-Philippe, that team gets bumped down to the bottom of the list and the others move up. So now Toronto is on top.

This is all important to keep in mind right now because of the summer transfer window approaching. The reason MLS uses this system is for when former high-profile MLS players or US National team players return to the league. With the possibility of players coming back to the States in the coming years, this system is what is in place for them.

Now the fun part. It has nothing to do with regular transfers or designated players. The league does have the ability to review transfers in order to see if they should be deemed allocation worthy but in most cases they won’t have to. The designated player part of this is really a separate topic.

Teams also can trade up in the order if they know of someone who is coming back that wants to play in their town. Of course they have to compensate the other clubs that they are moving in front of to get to the top but that is sort of how the old system was as well.

I hope this clears things up for some people out there. Below is the list of the current allocation rankings. This isn’t really ground-breaking news here to start the day out with but it will come in handy in the coming months as players transfer in and out here.

1. Toronto FC
2. Real Salt Lake
3. Los Angeles Galaxy
4. Colorado Rapids
5. Columbus Crew
6. New York Red Bulls
7. FC Dallas
8. Chivas USA
9. D.C. United
10. Kansas City Wizards
11. Chicago Fire
12. New England Revolution
13. Houston Dynamo
14. San Jose Earthquakes

  • JesseMT

    If the allocation system doesn't apply to regular transfers and DPs, does that mean the allocation only applies to out-of-contract players?

  • drew.epperley

    no…it mainly means it applies to higher-profile players returning to MLS like a Dempsey or Adu; or a guy that multiple clubs want to sign…and in some cases players who have played in the league once before and decide to return here. Guys who are out-of-contract really have no barring in this system unless they are wanted by many clubs, which usually isn't the case.

  • JesseMT

    If the allocation system doesn’t apply to regular transfers and DPs, does that mean the allocation only applies to out-of-contract players?

  • no…it mainly means it applies to higher-profile players returning to MLS like a Dempsey or Adu; or a guy that multiple clubs want to sign…and in some cases players who have played in the league once before and decide to return here. Guys who are out-of-contract really have no barring in this system unless they are wanted by many clubs, which usually isn’t the case.