MLS Expansion Draft: Rules & Procedure

The MLS Expansion Draft takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 12, when the Los Angeles Football Club may add up to five players to their roster in preparation for their inaugural 2018 season.

Key dates:

MLS Expansion Draft: Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 2 pm ET.

The list of players eligible for selection will be released on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 6 pm ET.

2017 MLS Expansion Draft process:

  • Rounds: Five rounds as LAFC can select up to five players from the eligible pool; they can only claim a single player from any one club
  • Selection clock: Permitted three minutes for each selection
  • Timeouts: No timeouts implemented
  • Trades: No trades permitted during draft

Key parameters:

  • Protected/unprotected player-related rules:
    • The 22 MLS clubs that competed during the 2017 season can protect 11 players between their Senior, Supplemental and Reserve Roster. If the player’s contract expires at the end of 2017, he will still be considered part of the club’s Senior Roster. If a club protects a player, it is not obligated to exercise the player’s option. It may renegotiate a new budget number for the player as in previous years, subject to the CBA. Option Decline Free Agents and Out of Contracts Free Agents are part of the Expansion Draft and are not automatically protected.
    • Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster, other than Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2017 MLS Season or Homegrown Players, are eligible.
    • Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2017 MLS Season and Homegrown players on a Club’s Supplemental/Reserve Roster at the end of the 2017 MLS Season are automatically protected. Clubs do not have to use a protected slot on them.
    • Designated Players are NOT automatically protected (i.e., clubs must choose whether to protect such players and if such player is not protected, he will be available for selection in the Expansion Draft).
    • If a player has a no-trade clause in his contract, his MLS club must protect him and he will count as one of the 11 players who may be protected.
  • Retired player rules: If a player retires, he will not be a part of the Expansion Draft, but his club will lose its right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to play.
  • International player rules: Clubs are restricted in the number of international player(s) that they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players minus three, provided that if a club has three or fewer international players it may not make more than one international player available.
  • Selection of Free Agents: If a Free Agent is selected in the Expansion Draft, the expansion club that selected the player will gain his previous club’s ability to renegotiate a new contract consistent with the CBA before the beginning of Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft. If an Out of Contract Free Agent is selected in the Expansion Draft and subsequently signs with his 2017 club via Free Agency, he will be subject to the compensation limitation for Out of Contract Players signing with a new Club, as provided in the CBA.
  • If LAFC selects a Supplemental/Reserve Roster Player, it must offer him a Senior Roster position and he must remain on the Senior Roster as of Roster Compliance Date.
  • Maximum player loss: Once one player has been claimed from a club’s non-protected roster, that club is eliminated from the Expansion Draft and may not lose any further players.
  • Right to negotiate: LAFC will have the right to renegotiate a drafted player’s salary (either up or down) without having to place such player on waivers or giving his previous club a right of first refusal.


For the first time with the 2016 Expansion Draft, the league changed its system as Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United were granted only five selections each, and General Allocation Money awarded to them in lieu of lost picks.

As recently as 2014, the Expansion Draft allowed for 10 players to be selected by any participating expansion clubs; in the 1997 Expansion Draft, up to 12 selections were allowed.

Last year’s Expansion Draft included Atlanta’s selection of goalkeeper Alec Kann who made 18 starts in 2017 and Minnesota’s pick of defensive midfielder Collen Warner who appeared in 25 games in 2017.