Nuts and Bolts About 2011 Roster Rules

Nuts and Bolts About 2011 Roster Rules

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On January 31, 2011
  • 6 Comments
  • 2011 Roster Rules

The 2011 roster rules and what nots were released on Friday along with the news that Houston was heading east to join the eastern conference for probably a season. I won’t go into the conference set up discussion right now as really its meaningless since we still have no idea what the schedule looks like AND what the playoff structure will actually be.

Instead, I figure let’s go over the new(ish) rules for the year. The nuts and bolts really of the thing.

On and off budget players

Each club may name up to 30 players on its roster at any given time with a minimum of 18 players needed. Of those players there are the on-budget players and the off budget players.

On-budget players

  • Players occupying roster spots 1-20 count against the club’s 2011 salary budget of $2,675,000, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Salary Budget Players.
  • The maximum budget charge for a single player is $335,000.
  • A player’s budget charge may be bought down with allocation money.
  • A Designated Player counts $335,000 against the club’s salary budget, unless the player joins his club in the middle of the season, in which case his budget charge will be $167,500.
  • Players occupying roster spots 1-20 will earn at least $42,000 in 2011.

Off-budget players

  • Players occupying roster spots 21-30 do not count against the club’s salary budget, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Off-Budget Players (maximum of 10 per team).
  • All Generation adidas players are Off-Budget players.
  • Clubs may sign up to two Home Grown Players to Generation adidas contracts.
  • Players occupying roster spots 21-24 will earn at least $42,000 in 2011.
  • Players occupying roster spots 25-30 will earn at least $32,600 in 2011. Any player making $32,600 must not turn 25 at any point during 2011.
  • Clubs may elect to leave up to two of these roster spots (25-30) vacant and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money.

Nuts and bolts about this: I think with the return of the Reserve division the new rules in place will be interesting for some club to grasp and for others not so much. Teams with loads of Home Grown and GA players won’t have too much trouble filling out their roster (looking at you FC Dallas and New York). Some clubs will find new ways to get more creative with these new rules too. Gotta imagine the creative GMs and Technical Directors will have fun with some of these new wrinkles.

Clubs that are cash strapped will love the new rules however. It will allow them to take some of their cheaper younger players and place them in the pile of off-budget players. (We’re looking at you LA, RSL, Seattle and New York.)

Also, the big item for the off budget players is that last item. Clubs can use two slots towards allocation for their on budget roster. It means clubs using this item will carry one or two less players which could make things interesting in the reserve side of things but it will allow those cash strapped clubs to do a little more with a little less.

Don’t be shocked if we see one or two clubs go with the bare minimum here this season with just 26 players on the roster (18 on budget and 8 off budget). Clubs that do this can be creative in the sense that they can go slightly over the salary cap without actually doing so.

Last but not least the Canadian factor in all of this.

MLS and the Canadian Soccer Association agreed to replace the fairly complicated hybrid system usually employed with a far simpler approach.

Canadian-specific roster regulations

  • Domestic slots may be filled with either Canadian or U.S. domestic players.
  • MLS clubs based in Canada are required to have a minimum of three Canadian domestic players on their rosters.

Nuts and bolts: This basically means the Canadian clubs now have an even playing field in building their rosters to compete against the US clubs. A fair thing really in the long run I think. I have a feeling at least Toronto and Vancouver will before long build their Canadian quotas through their youth and academy systems than by getting Canadian internationals to return home. A cheaper and easier thing in the long run.

Teams in the CCL

My favorite new addition to the rules is probably the biggest item for some clubs. Teams now competing in the CONCACAF Champions League will now receive extra allocation money. This was something most MLS clubs that participated in this competition for years have complained about.

Nuts and bolts:  teams from MLS could have a better shot in the CCL with the extra money and bodies it will produce.

  • djking2

    Hey Drew. I’m assuming players are assigned to the roster slots in declining order of players salary, but I’m not sure that’s true. Can you tell me. Otherwise what’s to stop a team from putting higher paid players in off-budget slots.

    • Believe me, there is no way on Earth the league would allow a near-DP salary play to be slotted in the off-budget slots. Its not set up for that. Basically those off budget slots are for GA players, developmental players and home grown talent players. Those are the only players that will be counted as off budget for teams. I’m sure some clubs will get creative with that but not creative enough to sneak by a guy that say should make $200k and put him in the off-budget area.

    • Believe me, there is no way on Earth the league would allow a near-DP salary play to be slotted in the off-budget slots. Its not set up for that. Basically those off budget slots are for GA players, developmental players and home grown talent players. Those are the only players that will be counted as off budget for teams. I’m sure some clubs will get creative with that but not creative enough to sneak by a guy that say should make $200k and put him in the off-budget area.

  • Sk397

    Do you know if the allocation money for ccl applies to teams that are still in it(RSL, Crew) or if it just applies for the next version.

  • Daniel Behrman

    The best thing possible is to have brilliant young players that are basically free, the real trick is to keep them in the MLS. When we can do this the MLS has truly arrived tho

  • jcr

    This is a great topic. My biggest question is what other restrictions exist to place players in the 21 to 30 roster spots such as their an age maximum for the 21 to 24 roster spots and / or a salary maximum which would apply also to the 25 to 30 roster spots.

    Given that those roster spots are outside the salary cap, what would prevent a team who has more money and wants to really exceed the salary cap from placing a 30 year old regular team player making $300,000 in one of those roster spots given that they are outside the cap?