NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today announced an expansion of team roster sizes and an increase in the number of international players allowed per team for the 2005 season.
While MLS team rosters will each consist of 28 players, an increase from 24 players in 2004, the numbers of senior international players and youth international players allowed per team will also rise. Teams may begin to add international players to their rosters beginning on December 1, 2004. The details of the changes follow below.
"Major League Soccer is committed to continuing to improve the level of competition and grow the depth of the talent pool in our League," said MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis. "Our teams have developed some of the world's top American and international soccer players in recent years and we look forward to even more stars emerging from this significantly larger player base."
ROSTER SIZES: In 2005 each MLS team will have 28 total roster spots comprised of 18 senior players and 10 developmental players. Developmental players can only be 24 years old or younger.
SENIOR INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS: Starting next season each team will be allowed four senior internationals, foreign players not holding green cards who are 25 years of age and older during a given season, an increase from the three-man senior international limit in 2004.
YOUTH INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS: Starting in 2005 every MLS team will have three slots for youth international players, foreign players not holding green cards who are 24 years of age and younger during a given season. Youth international players can be signed to either senior player contracts or developmental player contracts.
In addition, the two MLS expansion teams, Club Deportivo Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, will receive two additional youth international player slots (a total of five) for their first two years of existence. All youth international player spots may also be traded, which is not the case with senior international player slots.
The changes to the youth international structure will double the number of slots League-wide compared to 2004. Last year the League pool consisted of 20 youth international players while 2005 will feature a maximum of 40 such players.
Major League Soccer's 12 clubs continue their preparations to celebrate the League's 10th season in 2005 as the two new expansion teams join the fold. Following the MLS Expansion Draft on November 19 and the opening of the trade window on November 22, Club Deportivo Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake join 10 other teams in building new squads this offseason with the 2005 MLS SuperDraft looming on Friday, January 14.