2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft: Rules & Procedure

The MLS Re-Entry process begins on Dec. 14, giving teams a chance to select experienced MLS players who have not agreed to a new contract with their current club but may want to stay in the league.
Key dates:
  • Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft: Friday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. ET
  • Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. ET
The full list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Draft will be released the day before each stage – on Dec. 13 by 7 p.m. ET for Stage 1, and on Dec. 19 by 7 p.m. ET for Stage 2.
  • Option Exercise Deadline on Nov. 26, 1 p.m. ET: Clubs no longer competing in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers, announced by the teams.
  • Option Exercise Deadline for non-MLS Cup participants on Nov. 30, 1 p.m. ET: Non-MLS Cup participants must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers, announced by the clubs.
Key parameters:
Players who are eligible to be selected in the Re-Entry Draft include:
  • Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose contract options were not exercised by their clubs. They will be available at their option salary for 2019.
  • Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary. They are available for at least their 2018 salary.
  • Free Agents that choose to participate.
Re-Entry Draft Process:
Teams select in the reverse order of their finish during the 2018 season, taking into account playoff performance. The San Jose Earthquakes will hold the first selection and the MLS Cup champion will get the 23rd pick. Incoming expansion club FC Cincinnati will have the 24th and final pick.
The draft takes place over two stages:
  • In Stage 1, clubs must exercise the option for, or extend a “Bona Fide Offer” to, any player selected. Clubs may not select their own draft-eligible players. Should a player reject the offer, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS. Players with option years left on their contract will automatically be added to the drafting club’s roster.
  • In Stage 2, all players who were not selected in the first stage will be available again. Teams who select a player in Stage 2 will have the right to negotiate with the player for a new contract.
    • If a player is not under contract and the club selects such player, the club is required to make a genuine offer to the player within seven (7) days, subject to League Office approval.
    • If a player is not selected in either Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, such players will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to all clubs.
The first Re-Entry Draft took place following the 2010 season, with most acquisitions occurring in Stage 2. Notable names and selections included D.C. United’s pick of Josh Wolff (formerly of Sporting Kansas City) to lead off the second stage and Columbus Crew SC’s selection of veteran striker Jeff Cunningham (formerly of FC Dallas).
In 2016, seven players were selected between the two stages, including Houston Dynamo left back Dylan Ermick, who scored a goal to eliminate the Portland Timbers from the postseason and push his side into the 2017 Western Conference Championship.