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MLS Announces New Initiative to Further Strategic Investment in Young Domestic and International Players

MLS releases full 2021 Roster Rules and Regulations including parameters for player professional development


NEW YORK (Monday, April 12, 2021) – Major League Soccer today released the Roster Rules and Regulations for the 2021 MLS Season, including details of the new U22 Initiative as well as parameters to provide players with professional development opportunities in MLS front offices.

With a continued focus on strategic investment in players, MLS clubs will now be able to sign up to three young players, age 22 and younger, to lucrative contracts at a reduced budget charge, decreasing the risk associated with acquiring or retaining players who are still approaching their prime.

While players signing from other professional leagues must be joining on their first MLS contract, the initiative provides enhanced opportunities for Homegrown Players and SuperDraft signings. SuperDraft picks will be eligible to occupy a U22 Initiative Slot during their second contract, while Homegrown Players will be eligible during their first or second contracts, provided they meet the age and compensation requirements. Players may occupy a U22 Initiative Slot through the season in which they turn 25, to provide time for these dynamic young players to grow into key contributors.

With the top-tier professional environments throughout MLS, clubs will have the opportunity to develop these young domestic and international players into impact players on their MLS teams and highly valued players on the international transfer market.

As the league continues to support the growth of MLS players on and off the field through their playing careers and beyond, the 2021 Roster Rules and Regulations provide guidelines for players that seek professional development opportunities in MLS front offices. The new guidelines address players who want to gain coaching experience, as well as those seeking development opportunities in club front offices.

Additional Updates:

  • In 2021, there will be no change to a player’s status as an International or Domestic player on his club’s roster following the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window. Any player receiving a green card, permanent residency, or granted special status after the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window in 2021 will remain an international player throughout the rest of the season. In 2022 and onward, that deadline will be the Roster Compliance Date.
  • Beginning in 2021, no amount of a fee earned from the transfer of a Designated Player may be converted into General Allocation Money.

For more details about the 2021 MLS Roster Rules and Regulations, please CLICK HERE.