Expansion Draft

MLS Expansion Draft: Everything to know before St. Louis CITY make picks


A major milestone awaits St. Louis City SC on Friday night: the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft.

During the offseason roster-building mechanism (full calendar), the expansion club may select up to five players from the eligible player list, which was released Thursday.

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

When is it? How to watch?

What is it?

The Expansion Draft is among the primary tools new league entrants are afforded to assemble their rosters, giving them an opportunity to select from the eligible player list – sourced from existing teams.

St. Louis, the lone expansion side beginning play in 2023, are the only club that will make selections in this year's Draft.

During the Draft, St. Louis will be permitted three minutes for each selection with no timeouts. Trades are not permitted while the Draft is in progress.

How does it work?

St. Louis may select up to five players from the eligible pool of players, claiming only a single player from any one club.

After Charlotte FC chose one of their players during the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft, these five clubs are exempt from the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft: Austin FC, Atlanta United, D.C. United, LAFC and New York City FC.

The other 23 returning MLS clubs that competed during the 2022 season can protect 12 players from their Senior and Supplemental rosters. Details below:

  • Generation adidas players who have not been graduated and Homegrown Players (players 25 years old and under in the year in which the Expansion Draft takes place) on a club’s roster at the end of the 2022 MLS season are automatically protected. Clubs do not have to use a protected slot on them.
  • Designated Players and other discretionary players are NOT automatically protected.
  • Clubs that have a player selected in the Expansion Draft will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money.

Will my team lose a player?

It's not as likely as in years when multiple teams are selecting, but it could still happen.

The eligible player 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. They could provide a major boost as St. Louis build from scratch, either as depth pieces or day-one contributors.

Other MLS clubs could angle for trades, so don't presume players selected will ultimately end up in St. Louis. The trade portion could net St. Louis other assets or players, too.

Will St. Louis find a steal?

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

Here are some prominent historical examples:

Also, keep in mind the Expansion Draft is just one piece of STL's roster-building puzzle. They enter with 12 players on their inaugural roster, then can keep an eye on Free Agency (opens Nov. 16), the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas (Dec. 21) and more.