What you need to know about MLS’s roster rules for 2015

What you need to know about MLS’s roster rules for 2015

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 5, 2015

Last Friday I was traveling to Houston for the FC Dallas-Houston Dynamo game when the 2015 roster rules were released. Boy am I glad I took a little extra time on reading through these things.

MLS executive VP of player relations and competition Todd Durbin said the league had been operating under the old rules until Friday. All 20 clubs were announced as roster compliant on opening day too. The new regulations governing player discovery and allocation entered effect Friday.

Below are some of the highlights of what you need to know about this year’s roster rules.

Salary cap and salary minimums

As we all expected going into the new year with a new CBA, salaries would be increased. It turns out they didn’t go up too drastically.

  • The salary cap sits at $3.49 million, and it’s only players 1-20 on the roster that count against it.
  • The maximum budget charge for a player is $436,250.
  • The minimum salary is $50,000, which is for players 25-28; the minimum for players 21-25 is $60,000.
  • The only players allowed to make $50,000 are those are under 25 by the end of 2015.

Roster size and makeup

Another expected move following training camps this year was a reduced number in roster sizes. Part of this is due to the growing number of MLS owned teams in the USL.

  • Rosters may be made up of 28 players.
  • Domestic players are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and holders of other special status, like refugee or asylum status.

Allocation process

  • Only players on a “single fixed and public” list are subject to the allocation process. That’s the Allocation Ranking List, and the way in which those players are acquired doesn’t seem to have changed.
  • Players that can be on that list: Select U.S. national team players, select U.S. youth national team players, and players who have been transferred outside of MLS for at least $500,000.

Note: The table above was provided by MLS. Fabian Johnson plays for Borussia Monchengladbach, not Hoffenheim. The list will only grow if an “elite U.S. youth national team player turns 18 or graduates from the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, and is deemed eligible for the list,” or if a player is transferred out for more than $500,000, according to MLS.

Another note: Say someone like Messi or Ronaldo does become available for an MLS team to get, they are deemed discoverable and not for allocation.

Discovery process

Up to seven players may be placed on discovery lists, which is down from 2014 — there were 12. A press release says that “reduction is intended to encourage clubs to add to their lists only players they intend to sign.”

  • Discovery lists do not reset at the end of the season.
  • Some players are exempt from the discovery process.
  1. SuperDraft eligible players — so U.S. youth national team players, college players, and college eligible players.
  2. Homegrown players
  3. College protected players (players selected in the draft that didn’t sign with MLS)
  4. Players formerly on rosters that clubs attempted but were unable to re-sign following contract expiration; or players that were on the team’s discovery list that they attempted to and were unable to sign. Clubs retain a right of first refusal on those players.
  5. Players formerly on MLS clubs that have been waived.
  • If two or more clubs try to add the same player to a discovery list, priority goes to the club that filed the claim first. If they’re filed on the same day, it falls to the club with the lowest points-per-game average.
  • If a team wants to sign a player from another team’s discovery list, they can offer $50,000 to that team. The team receiving the offer must either accept the $50,000 allocation money, or make a “genuine, objectively reasonable” offer for the player.
  • Special discovery players: For one player on the roster, the club may amortize acquisition costs over the life of the player’s contract, but not more than the maximum salary budget charge.

Designated players

  • The salary charge for a designated player is $436,250.
  • If the player joins after the summer transfer window, the charge is $218,125.
  • Under-20 designated players are a $150,000 charge; under-23s are $200,000.
  • You can still buy a third designated player spot, but you still do not need to buy one for a player 23 years old and younger.

Homegrown players

  • Clubs can sign a player to his first professional contract as a homegrown player. They must have been a member of the club’s youth academy for at least one year, and they have to have “met the necessary training and retention requirements.,”
  • Interestingly enough, there was no indication in the rules that homegrown players do not count against the salary cap.

Intraleague loans

  • Players loaned to another MLS club must be 24 years or younger when the loan starts.
  • A club may only loan one player per season, and it must be initiated during either transfer window.
  • The player must remain with the new club for the rest of the MLS season.
  • The player can’t compete against his former club.
  • Intraleague loans can have an option to make it permanent.

Free agency

Players aged 28 or older with eight year of MLS service who are out of contract or didn’t have their options picked up will be allowed to select their next MLS club, “subject to certain restrictions,” according to MLS.

The league said that additional details will be released once the CBA is ratified.