The MLS will have its first expansion draft since the 2011 season on Wednesday, December 10, with Orlando City SC and New York City FC each having 10 selections to help build their rosters ahead of the 2015 campaign.
The rules for this year's draft don't deviate much from the previous ones, but they remain relatively complicated nonetheless. In this article, we'll provide a layout of the draft schedule and basic rules as provided by the MLS.
All rules are courtesy of the MLS and can be accessed by clicking here.
Date and Start Time
The draft will take place on Wednesday, December 10 and starts at 2 p.m. ET.
Format and Schedule
Each team will have 10 selections and will alternate making picks. Orlando won the right to select first. As a result, the schedule looks simple:
|MLS Expansion Draft Schedule|
|1||1||Orlando City SC|
|1||2||New York City FC|
|2||3||Orlando City SC|
|2||4||New York City FC|
|3||5||Orlando City SC|
|3||6||New York City FC|
|4||7||Orlando City SC|
|4||8||New York City FC|
|5||9||Orlando City SC|
|5||10||New York City FC|
|6||11||Orlando City SC|
|6||12||New York City FC|
|7||13||Orlando City SC|
|7||14||New York City FC|
|8||15||Orlando City SC|
|8||16||New York City FC|
|9||17||Orlando City SC|
|9||18||New York City FC|
|10||19||Orlando City SC|
|10||20||New York City FC|
Each of the existing 18 MLS clubs had to submit a list of 11 protected players by Friday, December 8, and the MLS is expected to make the list public before the start of the draft, via Opta's Ben Jata. At the time of writing, the list had not yet been made public:
Orlando and New York will make their 10 selections based on the list of unprotected players. Once one of the current MLS teams has lost two players to the draft, it's automatically eliminated from the rest of the draft.
Players on both the senior and supplemental rosters will have to be protected. Expiring contracts also count toward the team's roster.
Generation Adidas players who have yet to graduate and Homegrown players on the supplemental roster are automatically protected and don't count toward the list of 11 players.
The protection of international players is tricky. Teams have to protect a minimum of three international players unless they have three or fewer of those players on the roster. They may not make more players available than the total number of internationals they have minus three. This table shows the possibilities:
|International Player Restrictions|
|Number of Internationals||Minimum Must Protect||No More available Than|
Any non-domestic U.S. player will count as an international player.
Designated Players are not automatically protected unless they have a no-trade clause in their contract. In that case, they will automatically take up one of the 11 slots on the list of protected players.
If a player is claimed from a club's non-protected roster, that club has the right to move one player to its protected roster.
Orlando City and New York City have been given the right to renegotiate a player's contract once they've selected him without said player being placed on waivers or his former club receiving a first right of refusal.
The right to renegotiate contracts opens up an array of possibilities and only further complicates what will already be a number of difficult decisions. New York head coach Jason Kreis confirmed the process isn't quite straightforward, via the club's official Twitter feed:
While logic would point toward youngsters being the popular choice for high picks, we've seen teams like Vancouver Whitecaps FC build almost instant playoff contenders through the draft.
Veteran players with experience often come with big contracts—but star power attracts fans, something new teams always need, and contracts can always be renegotiated.
Expect to see a nice mix of young and veteran talent to be selected on Wednesday, with the top picks being perhaps a bit older than you might expect.