Everything You Need to Know About the MLS Expansion Draft

The MLS Expansion Draft takes place on Dec. 10, providing the second major roster-building event for Orlando City and NYCFC. The first is tomorrow’s Dispersal Draft for Chivas USA players at 4 p.m. The Mane Land will have full coverage of that event.

The Dispersal Draft is quite simple. Orlando City will select seventh and all eligible players will be chosen team-by-team until every MLS club has chosen to pass up the opportunity to take a player. It is doubtful that every club will select a Chivas player and, although by no means certain, extremely unlikely any team will take two.

The Expansion Draft is a little more complex and many of our readers certainly still have questions about it. The rules are more complex. In this 10-round draft, Orlando City will select first and NYCFC chooses second and both teams will alternate until they’ve each taken 10 players left unprotected by the other MLS teams. But who needs to be protected? Who is safe? What are the details?

Here’s what we know right now:

  • Teams may protect 11 players between their senior and supplemental rosters. Each MLS club can essentially call “dibs” on 11 of its players and neither Orlando City nor New York City FC may select those 11.
  • Homegrown players who are not on the senior roster (which counts against the team’s salary cap budget) are safe from selection and don’t have to be protected. Homegrown players on the senior roster are not safe and must be protected or are at risk of being taken.
  • Players on a club’s supplemental roster, other than Generation Adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2014 MLS season, or Homegrown Players on a club’s supplemental roster, will be part of the expansion draft.
  • Designated players are not safe from selection unless they are put on the team’s protected list or if they have a no-trade clause—in the latter case they must be protected.
  • An MLS club may move an unprotected player to their protected list if they lose a player to Orlando City or NYCFC. This gives a team a chance to save a 12th player should they lose one.
  • Clubs that lose a player will receive $50,000 in allocation money, which can be used for multiple purposes, but mainly is to ease the burden of replacing a lost player. A team may receive up to $100,000 in allocation money because no team may lose more than two players in the Expansion Draft. Once a club has had two players selected, it is removed from the draft.
  • MLS teams are restricted in the number of international players they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players, minus three. If a club has three or fewer international players, it may make only make one available.
  • For U.S.-based clubs, any non-domestic U.S. player counts as an International and for Canadian clubs, any non-domestic U.S. or Canadian players count as an International.
  • If a player has retired he will not be part of the club’s roster, but his club will lose the right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to play. So…maybe someone grabs Landon Donovan late in the Expansion Draft, just in case?

We’ll likely have more details and a lot more to say about the MLS Expansion Draft as Dec. 10 nears. It is probable that we’ll participate with the other SB Nation team blogs in a mock Expansion Draft at some point, as well.



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