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MLS announces changes to allocation, discovery processes



Major League Soccer announced its 2015 rule changes, and the focus was on player acquisitions, with the league modifying the allocation and discovery player acquisition mechanisms.

The changes go into effect as of today.

The allocation process is being consolidated into one system, combining the Designated Player allocation rankings, the weighted lottery and blind draw acquisition mechanisms, effectively barring a repeat of the hot-button Jermaine Jones signing.

The new system includes a public allocation player ranking list, picked by MLS club technical staffs and the league player personnel department.

MLS also modified the discovery process — the avenue to acquire players not on the allocation list or otherwise ineligible through other player acquisition processes.

Teams can put up to seven players on their discovery list and can modify the list at any time. Players are acquired through the discovery process on a first come, first serve basis.

However, in a new change, teams can offer $50,000 of allocation money to acquire a player that another team already has a claim on. That team must then either make the player a reasonable contract offer or accept the allocation money and give up rights to the player.

Unlike the allocation list, individual teams’ discovery lists will remain private.

Types of players not eligible for discovery lists include allocation list players, Homegrown players, SuperDraft eligible players, protected college players, waived players and players who were offered a contract but went unsigned.

Meanwhile, the allocation list is made up of select U.S. Men’s National Team players and youth internationals, along with players who transferred away from MLS for a fee over $500,000.

The updated allocation list released today includes five senior USMNT players, five youth national team players and 14 players that previously transferred out of the league. The five USMNT players were Tim Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Guzan, Aron Johannsson and Fabian Johnson.

The allocation order going forward is determined through reverse order of the MLS standings, so in other words, the team with the worst record in the league will have the top allocation ranking. Teams can still trade allocation position.

Currently, the San Jose Earthquakes hold the top allocation spot, followed by the LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo.

What do you think about the consolidation of the allocation process? How about the new change to the discover process?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I certainly understand why these rules provoke such an outcry from people who don’t like MLS. After all, I too choose what sports to follow based on the arcane, behind-the-scenes bureaucracy that goes into running a league.

  2. People responding ( whining ) about this crack me up.

    MLS is a joke, it will fail, seems to be the running commentary.

    The facts are that MLS has so much leverage that it can install rules like these, but still succeed beyond everyones wildest dreams, while it has most the national team members and every player from a big club that can’t stay at a big club clamouring to come back.

    • I don’t think anyone’s disputing any of that, but if MLS is going to be a league that competes with the world’s top leagues (I’m not even just talking about the big 4), it’s going to have to have a enough player movement to allow the best teams to build up depth. As it stands now, teams are capable of putting together rosters with a few (relatively) high-dollar players, a few domestic-based veterans whose value has been suppressed, and a couple of smart bargains that they hope will pan out. Under the best of circumstances, that’s good enough to cobble together a good starting line-up, but nearly every team has holes and very few have bench players that can step in if starters get injured. It’s great that national team members are coming back and that individual teams have the money to pay them, but when it comes full team-building, the current rules are a major hindrance.

      Further, as the league makes efforts to grab a larger share of casual American sports fans and sports fans who primarily follow the American big 4 sports leagues, player acquisition rules like these are only going to mystify and alienate them. Fans want to know that when their team has a down season, or shows a particular weakness, management can take a straightforward path to addressing roster needs, whether that’s signing a player on the open market or trading for one. Most leagues can get away with few restraints on player movement (e.g. an entry draft for rookies or free agency with a soft salary cap), but the sheer number of restrictions that MLS has — allocation, discovery lists, practically no free agency, etc. — make it difficult to trace a team’s path to building a sound roster. There are plenty of fans who will say “what’s the point of following Team X? I have no idea what they can do to get better.”

      While it’s not all doom and gloom for the league (as you’ve pointed out, the league is growing), all of these player acquisition rules put a hard cap on teams’ ability to grow and the league’s ability to market itself as part of the American sports landscape.

      • I suppose implicit in my reply is that while MLS has grown, I don’t think it’s done so “beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.” It’s on the way to being a successful league, but let’s be clear: The United States is the richest country in the world and has such a large population that even if soccer is not our most popular sport, we have a large enough pool of potential fans to support a league that’s competitive with the top leagues in the world. So the fact that we have a solid league with some underrated talent and (at times) high-quality team soccer isn’t some sort of remarkable, unforeseeable achievement. It’s just a sign that we’re off to a good start. To get to the next level, however, at some point, the training wheels have to come off. It’s really the only way to build up the talent pool enough to build the league to its full potential.

  3. I think it’s garbage. A team sitting at the foot of the table for an extended period of time can hoard all the incoming players. After receiving a player that team should go to the back of the order.

  4. I forgot to mention that rightfooted players of south or central American origin who were raised in single parent households and do not speak English but have hot wives or girlfriends and have received more than two red cards over the last three years of domestic competition must go through a Special Weighted Armado Gueverra Dispersal Draft.

    Thank you.

  5. You had me at “weighted lottery”. What a joke of a league…zero credibility…the Don says it will be a top 10 league in, what, 2025…jokes!

    Games are being played on artificial turfs by players lacking basic footballing skills who rely primarily on athleticism and rely on a kick and run style of football dating back to the 1950’s…unwatchable!

    • What the hell does “kick and run” mean? I hear it in every eurosnob criticism of MLS, but have no idea what they’re seeing that I’m not. Every soccer player in the world kicks the ball, then runs somewhere else. By another name that’s “pass and move”, which is apparently good. But “kick and run” isn’t. How the hell are they different except that one is done by players slightly less skilled and another is done by players who speak English with non-native accents?

  6. These regulations are so convoluted I’ve decided to start an online law school where you can get your Juris Doctorate in MLS Club Administration. Course work will include classes in:

    Theory of Allocation Order
    Reentry Draft Analytics
    Homegrown Chemistry (lab)
    Single Entity Structure
    CBA Dictation
    International Roster Spot Studies
    Designated Player Cost Benefit Analysis

    This will be a 3year program same as a typical law degree. Clearly there is a lot of material to cover. Unfortunately after you graduate this program the league will have changed all its rules and your degree will be worthless. This is great for our institution though since we will also offer a Continuing Ed program for graduates.

    I’m still working on accreditation from MLS and FIFA.

    Reply for further details.

      • +1. This would actually be a very funny (though horribly time-consuming) way to show just absurd this system of levers and pulleys really is.

  7. Oh, I get it. There are Designated Players, Discovery List Players, Completely Undiscovered Players, Allocation List Players, Yellowpages List Players, Homegrown Players, Homeborn Players Who Grew Elsewhere, Ironborn Players Currently Named Reek, Foreign Born Players With Cousins Here, SuperDraft Eligible Players, MiddlingDraft Eligible Players, Protected College Players, College Players Who Should Have Used Protection, Waived Players, and Players Who Were Offered A Contract But Went Unsigned (“PWWOACBWU”). Some of those might not be real. This MLS scheme is so easy it makes me want to learn parliamentary procedure so I can criticize Congress in ways that 99.997% of the population will never understand.

  8. How does LA get to be second on the list? Didn’t they just win it all last season? I can understand Earthquakes bad last year, Fire bad, but Galaxy??

  9. All that’s missing is the double-secret probation process.

    You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.

  10. Why is everyone so upset? What did I miss? I fell asleep during the second sentence.

  11. It’s an improvement. I like the public allocation list. The smaller discovery list process is better because teams can’t just tie up players and it incentivized good scouting.

  12. This is still absurd. Teams should be able to sign whoever they want if they player is willing to come and they can afford them

  13. So USMNT players still can’t choose where they want to play. I guess we can expect more behind closed doors shenanigans to get the players to their desired destination. The league continues to be a joke.

  14. Oya much better… Clear as mud

    Also the roster size was reduced from 30 to 28, DP cap hits increased and the cap was barely increased.

    Now we see why a lot of players were okay with a strike.

    • Oh so very clear….NOT. It seems to me that this is more of an end around on the CBA. If you are an American who maybe was never picked up by the MLS or any US team, i.e., no MLS team ever held your rights and you went on to became a success over in Europe (or anywhere else) your chances of playing for an MLS team you desire and even your salary, transfer fee and right to work are diminished because the MLS has pigeonholed you to certain team or classification than determines which team may or may not hold your rights. I think the devil is in the details, but it looks like it is another way, through the “new” discovery” process, to restrict a players potential salary.


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