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MLS announces 2017 roster rules

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MLS first introduced Targeted Allocation Money to increase the talent level on first team rosters, now they’re hoping the same mechanic might improve each team’s youth development.

The league announced its 2017 roster rules today, with the most notable change being an increased focus on the signing of homegrown players using TAM. Each team will see its roster cap expand to 30 players from 28, with the two new spots dedicated to homegrown signings exclusively. Additionally, up to $200,000 in TAM will be usable to supplement homegrown players $53,000 base salary on their first professional contract, in an effort to help teams retain their developed talent.

“Youth development continues to be a key strategic priority for MLS,” said Todd Durbin, MLS executive vice president of competition and player relations. “These two changes allow greater flexibility for our clubs, as the two additional roster spots give our clubs the ability to sign a greater number of promising young players, while the use of Targeted Allocation Money on new Homegrown Players gives them more financial resources to help retain that top talent.”

Several other rules were introduced or altered as well. TAM can now officially be used to sign Special Discovery Players, who have their acquisition costs factored in to their cap hit and spread out over the duration of their contract, as seen with the LA Galaxy’s signing of midfielder Joao Pedro. Intraleague loans initiated during the primary transfer window will allow the loaned player to be recalled during the secondary transfer window as agreed by the two teams. Finally, the threshold for Extreme Hardship is extended to instances when a player has fewer than four available outfield substitutes.

Additionally, the league announced the salary cap for 2017 to be $3.845 million, with base salary for roster spots 21-24 raised to $65,000 and spots 25-28 raised to $53,000, none of which count against the cap.


  1. And in further news Widget A goes into Hole Z with a right twist, unless Hole Z is two spots away from Hole M. then Widget A is put in the next hole closest to M, unless that Hole is N, in which case the widget gets put into the next available hole. Ya got that? I think health insurance is more understandable than MLS rules.

  2. Why did MLS wait so long to announce. Red Bulls hit a contract impasse with a Homegrown player. Kid went to the Union instead. I guess it will be some time before we won’t know if letting him go was the right thing to do but still would’ve been great to have that flexibility then.

  3. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to release roster rules for the 2017 season more than 3 days prior to the start of that season?

  4. Happy to see it stated that Youth development continues to be a key strategic priority for MLS but I’m out of beer to absorb the rest of the verbiage and rule-updates.

    MLS league rules structure is like having major surgery. I trust that it’s good for me as a fan, but just hit me with the anesthesia and wake me up when the process is over. I don’t want to be awake for the process…it’s painful.

  5. I know MLS needs to adjust on the fly to help ensure growth, but so many of these policies are confusing as hell. You’d be hard pressed to find GM’s and MLS cap geeks that understand the nuances of these rules by memory.

    • I don’t disagree with you….confusing and changing and not transparent.

      But one, no one seems unhappy (ok the whiners are, but who cares?) Owners, coaches, GMs all seem genuinely fine. Every once in a while a guy says sometime, which of course gets a ton of press, because….because whiners are a click baiter’s dream.

      Two, the end product has been great. The fear of players leaving for Europe as they become better and more desirable has been hit head on, and with great success. That was true with generic American players just getting better as time goes on staying and also with individuals that would have left after they got better in MLS, but MLS hung onto them.

      They do need to make sure that all boats float, fair competition, because I don’t want to see Seattle ( who is going to win again ) and LA playing 34 games a year…..against each other.


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