Expansion Draft

MLS Expansion Draft 101: Everything you need to know

The offseason is here following New York City FC's MLS Cup victory over the Portland Timbers, meaning focus now shifts to roster movement that'll occur around the league as clubs prepare for 2022.

Charlotte FC are firmly in the spotlight, as the upcoming MLS debutants will keep building out their expansion roster via the MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday night.

Here's a quick rundown of everything you can expect:

What is it?

The Expansion Draft is one of the primary tools new entrants to the league are afforded to assemble their rosters, giving them an opportunity to select from a list of available players from existing teams.

As the only expansion side tabbed to begin play in 2022, Charlotte FC are the only club that will be selecting in this year's draft.

When is it?

  • Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7 pm ET
  • Charlotte FC’s broadcast partners locally
  • Simulcast nationally on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS app

How does it work?

Charlotte FC can make five selections from the list of eligible players. Five teams that had players selected by Austin FC in last year's draft will be exempt from having players selected: LA Galaxy, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC and San Jose Earthquakes.

The remaining 22 clubs can protect 12 players from selection. You can find the full list of unprotected players Charlotte can pick from here.

During the draft, Charlotte will be permitted three minutes for each selection with no timeouts. Trades are not permitted during the draft.

Will my team lose a player?

It's not as likely as it would be during years where multiple teams are selecting, but it could still happen. The list seldom includes unprotected players who are big-name stars in their prime, but this year's group includes a lot of names with extensive, proven MLS experience and could be a big help as Charlotte build from scratch.

It all depends on how Charlotte view the player pool and how it shapes their roster vision, but there are options aplenty among the unprotected players with starting pedigree or reputations as solid depth pieces.

Other MLS clubs could angle for trades, too, so don't presume players selected will ultimately end up in Charlotte.

Will Charlotte find a steal?

Quite possibly. It may not yield the splashiest of names, but there are examples of players acquired through the Expansion Draft who have enjoyed lengthy, productive careers in their new homes.

LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing is one example after joining the Black & Gold via the 2017 Expansion Draft. The Ghanaian midfielder has been one of LAFC's most indispensable players since his arrival from Sporting Kansas City, starting at least 30 games in three of the last four seasons, acting as a key cog during the club's dominant Supporters' Shield-winning campaign of 2019. If any of Charlotte's selections hit like that, they'll be ecstatic.

The Seattle Sounders also struck gold with longtime utility stalwart and eventual club captain Brad Evans ahead of their 2009 debut season, as did the Philadelphia Union when they took French standout Sebastian Le Toux before their entry to the league in 2010. All three of those players are good examples of the profile that Charlotte could seek to add, although younger players with perceived upside could also be on their radar.