- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 24, 2010
- 0 Comments
I’m a bit behind, what can I saw the last couple weeks of my life have been a bit hectic for reasons I really don’t want to dive into on here. So I’m still playing catch up on a few things and I’m also getting back in to the real swing of things with my day job.
With that said I want to talk about rosters today. MLS rosters to be exact. The word recently is that rosters could expand next year to 30 players. Yes 30, a big jump from what its been recently 24 or 26 if you count the homegrown players teams are allowed to sign.
That number is a big one, 30 players gives clubs a little extra room to work with in building their team over the course of a season. For several clubs it means when play in the US Open Cup, SuperLiga and CONCACAF Champions League rolls around they’ll be able to do a little more with their rosters and not feel as pressured to exhaust players towards the end of the year. Teams with injury concerns like D.C. United this year will have a chance to do a little more in terms with calling up younger players or signing more talent to help out.
For others it means they’ll get to work in development players faster than they would right now. Then you’ll have clubs who just use the extra space to help out in late season playoff push.
Better Play In Champions League
But what this also does is help gets teams closer to the level of play with their neighbors to the south in Mexico. A larger roster means better chances of winning in Mexico. Sounds a bit crazy but its true. MLS clubs are very, and I mean very close to winning their first games down south.
The Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake all went to Mexico in this year’s CCL and nearly won, two of the clubs dropped leads late and saw points slip away while Columbus got jobbed out of at least a draw down there. Then you have Toronto FC who was able to sneak out of Mexico City with a draw against Cruz Azul. You can’t tell me the league isn’t just a lucky bounce away from history down there.
Larger rosters will certainly help out in that regard. Mexico has been doing a youth development for decades where as MLS is just getting started on the front. As the youth development gets better and bigger here with the larger rosters in MLS you can only expect a bump in play in CCL games.
Developing Young Players
Another nice thing about larger rosters for MLS clubs is teams also have the NCAA to thank about a recent rule change that allows youngsters to play alongside pros and not have their eligibility in question.
You’ll see teams like FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls go all over this exception for young players in their systems. Teams like them have been aggressive in the last two years on the homegrown talent rule but expect them to go even harder at their youth development if rosters do get expanded.
Lastly the expansion of roster will likely bring back the reserve league. We can’t say enough how big of a deal that is for these young players. Getting quality time in a reserve league plus some USOC games and you’ll see quality teenage players roaming MLS fields on ESPN2 in no time. Gone are the days that a teenager is hyped up and brought in too early like Freddy Adu. We’ll now see a natural progression for these players and these larger rosters will help that out for teams.
I know there are other reasons to get excited about larger rosters for MLS clubs but this is how I see it helping clubs out. Let’s just hope this rumor gets passed later this year by the league owners. Its a thing that needs to be done after this year.