2012 MLS Roster Rule Changes

2012 MLS Roster Rule Changes

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 22, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a week now, forgive me.  Major League Soccer released its 2012 roster rules last week, with little fanfare too. Just a few changes from last year, nothing too crazy or different from 2011 but enough to note.

Salary Cap

The salary cap has been raised to $2.81 million, up five percent from last year’s $2.675 million. This is something we’ve discussed here before back when LA was getting Edson Buddle and Juninho back.

The minimum salary for veterans has been raised to $44,000 from $42,000 while the minimum for players under 25 is $33,750, up from $32,600.

Only the 20-man senior roster counts toward the salary cap. The rest of the roster is the off budget or developmental roster, which typically includes Generation adidas players, rookies and Home Grown players. Team can leave two of these spots empty on their roster and receive $35,000 in allocation money for each empty slot.

There is no salary cap relief when players go on the disabled list, and they must sit out for six games. They can be replaced on the active roster.

Transfer Window

The summer transfer window will be from June 27 to July 27. The monthlong window closed on Aug. 14 last year. The primary transfer window closes on April 15.

Designated Players

Designated players now count $350,000 toward the cap with midseason DP signings counting only $175,000. DPs from ages 20-23 count $200,000 toward the cap and DPs younger than that count $150,000.

If a ‘Young DP’  joins midseason the cap hit is $150,000 and that amount cannot be bought down with allocation money. If a Young DP is going to be a team’s third DP, they won’t have to pay the $250,000 tax. That will be big for clubs like Dallas, New England, Chicago, DC, and even New York*.

All DP charges can’t be bought down below $150,000.

Just like last year, all DP spots cannot be traded. This isn’t new but it is still worth noting.

(* – just betting on those clubs taking advantage of the young DP rule this year)

Rosters and Contracts

Guaranteed contracts are what their name suggests, guaranteed. This even applies when a player is cut. Players on non-guaranteed contracts waived before July 1 won’t continue to count against the salary cap. After July 1 is a different story when those contracts become guaranteed, so expect a flurry of waived players around that date later this summer.

Teams are allowed eight international roster slots at the start of the season, which can be traded for any number of seasons.

Roster are frozen from Sept. 15, 5 p.m. ET, through the MLS Cup on Dec. 1 (except in the case of extreme hardship, which is typically when a team has less than two keepers available to them).

Teams can have up to 10 players on their discovery list and can add/remove them at any time. Teams can make six discovery signings in one season (expansion teams can make 10). The last day for discovery player signings is September 15, 2012 – coinciding with the roster freeze date and trade deadline. These claims also expire at the end of each season.

Allocation Money

Allocation money can be received for failure to qualify for the playoffs, the transfer of a player to a club outside of MLS for value (transfer fee), being an expansion team, qualification for the CONCACAF Champions League, trading in up to two off-budget spots and when teams pay a third DP surcharge (split between the other clubs I believe).

Allocation money can be used to help sign players who didn’t play in MLS the previous season, to re-sign an existing player (subject to league approval), and to buy down a player’s charge to the salary cap.

(Note: Apologies go out to Josh Mayers at the Seattle Times, some of this information was taken from his post earlier today without my knowledge. I currently allowing a friend to write up some posts like this and I was unaware that some verbiage was copied from Mayer’s post. Forgive me for not taking a harder look at this.)