Major League Soccer announces 2015 roster rules, including revised player acquisition process

Major League Soccer promised more clarity and a streamlined player acquisition process, and on Friday, the league delivered with the unveiling of the 2015 Roster Rules

Included in the rules is a revision to the process by which MLS clubs can acquire players. The streamlined process goes into effect May 1, 2015.

A SIMPLIFIED ALLOCATION PROCESS

The Allocation Process has existed in MLS for a while, used mainly as a way to determine which club would have the right to sign US national team players. It was one of several mechanisms through which clubs acquired certain high-profile players. Other mechanisms included the DP Allocation Rankings, the weighted lottery, and the blind draw, which last year was used to allow the New England Revolution to sign Jermaine Jones. 

Going forward, those additonal processes have been condensed into a single Allocation Process. The centerpiece of the revised system is a single fixed and public Allocation Ranking List (see list below) with the names of those players who would enter the league via the Allocation Ranking Order should they decide to sign with an MLS club. The list, determined by MLS club technical staffs and the league player personnel department, is comprised of:

  1. select US national team players;
  2. select elite US youth national team players;
  3. players transferred from MLS for a transfer fee of at least $500,000 (these names will be added to the list as transfers occur).

Except for the addition of players transferred for over $500,000 during the course of the season and other elite US youth national team players who turn 18 or graduate from the US Soccer Residency program, the player list will be updated once a year between the end of the regular season and MLS Cup.

Players on the Allocation Ranking List can be acquired via the Allocation Ranking Order, which operates similarly to the Allocation Order of past years: It is determined by the reverse order of finish from the previous season (including postseason performance) and clubs can trade their position in the Allocation Ranking Order. Once a team acquires a player via this mechanism, the team drops to the bottom of the Allocation Ranking Order.

DISCOVERY PROCESS: ENCOURAGING CLUBS

The other major change pertains to the Discovery process. All players not eligible to be acquired via the Allocation Ranking List or other standing acquisition mechanisms (SuperDraft, Waiver Draft, Re-Entry Draft, Homegrown signings, etc.) can be acquired on a first-come-first-serve basis via the Discovery Process.

To sign a player through the Discovery Process, the club must first place the player on its Discovery List. A club may have up to seven unsigned players on its Discovery List at any time and may remove or add players at any time.

The names on club Discovery Lists will not be made public by the league or the clubs in order for MLS clubs to maintain the confidentiality of players they are seeking to recruit from other MLS clubs. 

If one or more clubs includes the same player to their Discovery Lists, the club that filed the claim first will have the priority right to sign the player. If two or more clubs submit a discovery request on the same day, then the club with the lowest points-per-game in the current MLS regular season (all clubs must have played a minimum of three regular season games) will have the priority right to sign the player.

A new, innovative aspect of the process should help encourage clubs to fill their Discovery Lists with players they genuinely intend to pursue. If a club wants to sign a player who is on another team's Discovery List, it may offer the team $50,000 in allocation money in exchange for the right to sign the player. The team with the player on its Discovery List will then either (i) have to accept the allocation money and give up the opportunity to sign the player or (ii) make the player a genuine, objectively reasonable offer.

In addition to the players on the Allocation Rankings List, the players exempt from the Discovery Process are:

  1. SuperDraft Eligible Players: US youth national team players, college players and players with college eligibility, including players under the age of 18;
  2. Homegrown Players: Players developed in a club's youth academy;
  3. College Protected Players: Players who were selected by MLS clubs in the SuperDraft and did not sign an MLS contract;
  4. Unsigned Players: Players who were (i) on a club’s roster who that club attempted, but were unable, to resign at the expiration of their contract (ex. Juan Agudelo and Roger Espinoza) or (ii) on a club’s Discovery List and who that club attempted, but were unable, to sign;
  5. Waived Players: Players who have been previously waived by an MLS club.

ALLOCATION RANKING LIST

as of May 1, 2015

Player

Current club

Classification

Juan Anangono Leones Negros (MEX) Transfer
Alejandro Bedoya Nantes (FRA) Senior USMNT
Deshorn Brown Valerenga (NOR) Transfer
Geoff Cameron Stoke City (ENG) Transfer
Junior Flores Borussia Dortmund (GER) Youth USMNT
Giancarlo Gonzalez Palermo (ITA) Transfer
Julian Green Hamburg (GER) Youth USMNT
Brad Guzan Aston Villa (ENG) Senior USMNT
Doneil Henry West Ham Utd (ENG) Transfer
Tim Howard Everton (ENG) Senior USMNT
Aron Johannsson AZ Alkmaar (NED) Senior USMNT
Fabian Johnson Borussia Monchengladbach (GER) Senior USMNT
Fredy Montero Sporting Clube (POR) Transfer
Shaquell Moore Unattached Youth USMNT
Andy Najar Anderlecht (BEL) Transfer
Marc Pelosi Liverpool (ENG) Youth USMNT
Tim Ream Bolton (ENG) Transfer
Alain Rochat BSC Young Boys (SWI) Transfer
Oriol Rosell Sporting Clube (POR) Transfer
Rubio Rubin FC Utrecht (NED) Youth USMNT
Richard Sanchez UANL Tigres (MEX) Transfer
Camilo Sanvezzo Queretaro (MEX) Transfer
Jose Adolfo Valencia Independiente (ARG)
(on loan from Rosario Central)
Transfer
DeAndre Yedlin Tottenham (ENG) Transfer
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