A number of MLS stars and contributors alike are in the final year of their contract with no club options remaining on their deal. Sometimes that information flies under the radar.
So, let's take a look at some players we know are out of contract after the 2022 season – or, in one high-profile case, during the 2022 season.
This list is, obviously, not comprehensive. Most contract length information has not been made public. Sometimes people don't answer questions, or you don't know the right questions to ask. But it's a good start.
The MLS Players Association will likely release a complete list of players who could become free agents at the end of the season, but that’ll only apply to players eligible for MLS free agency (at least 24 years old and five years of service in MLS).
Anyway. From public comments, team releases and inside reporting, here are players whose contracts expire at the end of the season with no club options for extensions.
*Vela's deal expires on June 30, not the end of the season.
A big storyline over the 2022 MLS season's first few months, it was revealed that LAFC superstar Carlos Vela could be a free agent on July 1. As such, Vela was free to sign a pre-contract agreement for the summer as of Jan. 1.
This one has been covered at length and is all but resolved.
Vela, 33, and LAFC eventually reached an agreement to extend his contract more than a month ago. Sources still say everything is agreed upon and will be signed soon. But, as of right now, nothing is signed yet. Is it just Carlos being Carlos?
Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, is out of contract after this season. The Spanish attacking midfielder has spoken about his desire to stay.
“You can ask the sporting director later,” Pozuelo said in November when asked about his future. “I hope I can be here a lot of years. … I’m happy here. With a new project, new coach, I’m very excited. I hope I can be here more years."
Pozuelo, 30, has 26 goals and 30 assists in 84 MLS appearances, including 4g/4a in 12 appearances this year.
Prior to Toronto, Pozuelo starred for Genk in Belgium, regarded as one of the league’s best players. He has also featured for Swansea City in England and Rayo Vallecano in Spain.
“I’m not talking about that, so I’ll cut you off right now,” head coach Bob Bradley said last week when answering a question from The Parleh's Michael Singh about Pozuelo’s future. “I’m not talking about his contract.”
RBNY rejected multiple big trade offers from MLS clubs this winter for Long, MLSsoccer.com reported in February. Walker Zimmerman’s new DP contract as an MLS center back (with Nashville SC) should raise the market for Long this winter if he makes it to free agency.
Long has also had European teams aim to sign him over the years, including those in England and France.
For now, the defender is focused on the Red Bulls season and once again earning a key role for the USMNT under Gregg Berhalter. His club future is one to watch after the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
A finalist for 2021 MLS MVP, Daniel Salloi is out of contract after this season. At 25 years old (turning 26 in July), he may be set up to be the most sought-after free agent in MLS this winter if he doesn’t agree to an extension with SKC – and if he stays in MLS.
Salloi had a breakout 2021 with 16 goals and eight assists. And even amid a difficult start to 2022 for the club, he has a respectable 4g/1a in 11 appearances this year.
“Of course we’d like to try and re-sign him,” manager and sporting director Peter Vermes said in February. “It’s something we’ll continue to work towards as the season goes on.”
Salloi didn’t offer much when asked about his future in February, though.
“All I can say is, I have one year left on my contract and we’ll see what happens,” Salloi said.
A Hungarian international, his passport would likely make it easier for Salloi to head to Europe, should the right opportunity come.
The DP forward has been a consistent goalscorer in MLS during his years with the Crew, and has a goal and an assist in his first 200 minutes with the Rapids. Zardes has 89g/24a in 224 career MLS appearances with the Crew, Rapids and LA Galaxy, where he broke through as a homegrown in 2013.
For what it’s worth, a number of the incentives included in the trade would hinge on Colorado re-signing Zardes. So the Crew will be watching closely how that unfolds this year. The deal was for $300,000 in General Allocation Money up-front and another $1.1 million in incentives.
Reigning MLS Cup champion and US international Sean Johnson is in the final year of his contract, sources tell MLSsoccer.com.
Johnson, who just turned 33, is in his sixth season with NYCFC and is regarded among the elite goalkeepers in MLS. He has 334 career regular-season appearances with NYCFC and Chicago Fire FC. This year he has eight clean sheets in 13 matches, putting him among the early favorites for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
If a new deal isn’t sorted with NYCFC, it stands to reason that there would be a robust free-agency market in MLS for Johnson.
CF Montréal midfield constant Victor Wanyama is out of contract after 2022. The former Tottenham, Southampton and Celtic midfielder signed a three-year contract with CFM in 2020, meaning this is his final year under contract.
Wanyama, who turns 31 this month, has been a constant for the club, starting 61 games so far. He has been a key driver behind Montréal's strong start to the campaign that has them sitting third in the Eastern Conference standings.
The former Kenyan national team captain is a DP for Montréal.
Toronto FC stalwart Jonathan Osorio is out of contract at the end of 2022. The Canadian international is in the 10th year of his professional career with his boyhood TFC.
The midfielder has made 247 appearances with the club, adding 36 goals and 41 assists. He was a key member of the 2017 treble-winning team behind DPs Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. This year, Osorio has three goals and four assists through 11 appearances as the team goes through a reset under new manager Bob Bradley, with Lorenzo Insigne joining in the summer.
Osorio said in March that talks for a new deal with TFC hadn't really gotten underway yet.
“I can never close doors to nothing,” Osorio told The Parleh's Michael Singh in March. “Everything is open for me, and I’m just focused on doing good for this club right now while I’m here, when I’m here, and you know with the national team as well, so we’ll see. I’m just trying to be patient and focused on now and whatever happens between now and the end of the season happens, and I’ll see what the options are.”
Osorio, soon 30, has also spoken of his desire to go to Europe, including that he'd explore the possibility if the "right opportunity" came up. He's a key part of Canada's plans for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
The 24-year-old has two goals in four all-competition appearances so far with Charlotte, after tallying 17 goals and six assists in just over three years with Colorado. Shinyashiki can play through the center or out wide.
Shinyashiki wouldn’t be eligible for MLS free agency yet, though. He would need another season in the league. He could sign for free abroad, but if he stays in MLS and doesn’t re-sign with Charlotte, another team would have to trade for his rights so long as Charlotte make him a Bona Fide Offer (which is very likely).
Real Salt Lake homegrown goalkeeper David Ochoa is out of contract at the end of the season, and as has been previously reported, is garnering interest from a number of clubs in both Liga MX and Europe.
Contract talks with RSL have not progressed, leaving a real possibility that Ochoa departs on a free transfer at the end of the year. The 21-year-old is a product of the club’s academy, won a USL title with RSL's second team (Real Monarchs) and won the first team starting job last year.
Ochoa has yet to appear in MLS this season, with Zac MacMath the Claret-and-Cobalt's starter. He was a US youth international but filed a one-time switch to represent Mexico. He is yet to debut with the senior national team.
LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing is out of contract after this season, with the club announcing on his previous contract extension (in 2019) that his new deal keeps him with the club "through the 2022 season." The release made no mentions of club options.
The 25-year-old has made 153 MLS appearances, all but 25 of which came with LAFC, who selected him in the Expansion Draft from Sporting KC ahead of their inaugural 2018 season. A winger with SKC who got converted to an all-action pressing central midfielder, the Ghanian's career took off in Los Angeles. He's been linked with moves outside of the league in the past as well.
Vela and Blessing are the only two players from LAFC's opening day roster that are still on the team in 2022.
Blessing would qualify for MLS free agency under the new rules, set in 2021 with a new CBA agreement between the league and MLSPA that lessened the age and service-time requirements. He would also be free to sign elsewhere abroad in the winter.
Hollingshead, 31, has been strong with LAFC in his first season with the club, recording four goals in 11 appearances (eight assists). The fullback, who can play on the left or right, has always had a knack for scoring goals as he ventures forward.
He has made 204 career MLS appearances, most of which came with FC Dallas from 2014-20. He qualifies for MLS free agency.
Michel has accrued 83 appearances (42 starts) since debuting in 2019, a strong squad option in all four seasons. He has 15 goals and six assists, including one goal and one assist in 562 minutes this year.
Orlando just signed Gaston Gonzalez to a U22 Initiative deal, though the Argentine winger tore his ACL in his final game before he was due to head to the United States. He's on the season-ending injury list but will be back for 2023, adding further competition behind Facundo Torres and alongside Michel and Silvester van der Water.
The 24-year-old won't qualify for MLS free agency. Like Shinyashiki, he's in his fourth year in the league, meaning he doesn't meet the minimum requirement. If he doesn't re-sign with Orlando and stays in MLS, another club would have to trade for his rights so long as Orlando make him a Bona Fide Offer.
When Bill Hamid returned to D.C. United on a permanent basis ahead of the 2020 season, D.C. announced he signed a three-year contract. That would put him out of contract after this year, unless there were unannounced contract options.
Hamid, 31, has spent almost his entire career with D.C., save for some months in Denmark at FC Midtjylland, where he made just one appearance. He came back to United on loan before the club made it a permanent move.
The homegrown goalkeeper has 279 appearances with D.C. United. He qualifies for MLS free agency.
Included here, Gonzalo Higuain is the lone exception to only talking about players without club options for next year. His deal runs through this season with a club option for 2023.
Higuain's only two starts for Miami over the last two months have both been in the US Open Cup, in large part due to Leo Campana's rise. It seems very likely that option won’t be picked up for the 34-year-old striker.
Would the Argentine DP retire? TBD. His father made headlines by saying this would be it for Higuain, but the player himself pushed back at that.