2004 MLS player policies

All players are under contract to MLS under the single-entity system. Detailed rules decided upon by the MLS Competition Committee, comprised of owner-representatives. Teams have broad discretion in selecting players from the MLS player pool.

League Board of Governors decides the League's overall budget on players each year, including salaries, benefits, signing bonuses, transfer fees and other expenses


  • Teams not qualifying for playoffs;
  • Teams losing significant player through transfer or in other limited circumstances;
  • Allocations are ranked to determine priority for returning U.S. players Draft
  • Annual MLS SuperDraft in January each year for college and Nike Project 40 players Discovery
  • Salary and acquisition cost charged to team salary budget
  • Special Discovery - aged 28 or younger - amortized acquisition cost
  • Unlimited discoveries for developmental players Lottery
  • Players entering League during certain periods of the calendar
    Trade between MLS teams

    U.S. citizens and Green Card holders International
    Senior internationals - up to 3 per team
    Youth internationals (up to 24 years old) - max of 20 league-wide (no individual team limit)
    Senior Roster (18 players, includes all international players)
    Protected Roster (6 players, almost exclusively domestic players)
    Nike Project 40 players - elite young US players sponsored by Nike/U.S. Soccer/U.S. Soccer Foundation
    Developmental players - aged up to 23 - receive an MLS stipend


  • Expansion teams receive three (3) allocations
  • One (1) expansion allocation for each expansion team shall take precedence over all other team allocations, with the remaining two (2) expansion allocations per team having no precedence over other team allocations
  • Among expansion teams, priority shall be determined by chance(applies to all mechanisms below)

    Expansion Draft

  • The League will conduct an Expansion Draft prior to the regularly scheduled postseason Waiver Draft (likely in late November)
  • The 2005 Expansion draft will be 10 rounds
  • Each MLS team shall be allowed to protect 12 Senior Roster players
  • Each MLS team may leave unprotected only one Senior International
  • An MLS team may lose no more than three (3) players during the Expansion Draft
  • After a player has been selected from an existing team, such team shall have the right to protect an additional player


  • Expansion teams shall have the first selections in the annual MLS SuperDraft

    Discovery Players

  • Expansion teams shall be granted six (6) discovery picks in their first season, four (4) in their second season and in their third season and thereafter shall be subject to the discovery rules applicable to all other MLS teams (at present, MLS teams are permitted up to two (2) discovery picks each year)
  • Expansion teams shall have the lowest priority with respect to Discovery claims (until all teams have played three (3) games, in which case it will be determined by points-per-game)

    Waiver Drafts

  • Expansion teams shall have the last selections for waivers and all waiver drafts (until all teams have played three (3) games, in which case it will be determined by points-per-game)

    Lottery Drafts

  • Expansion teams shall have the lowest percentage chance for all lotteries (until the end of their first season in which case it shall be determined in the natural course)
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