Top Stories

MLS owners and players union finalize new CBA


Three days after tentatively agreeing to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLS owners and the MLS Players Association voted successfully to make the new agreement official.

MLS officially announced the ratification of the new CBA on Monday, a CBA deal that will cover the next seven seasons and expire after the 2027 campaign.

Some of the more significant terms in the CBA include a two-year extension of the existing agreement, 100 percent salary compensation for players in 2021, and the start of expanded free agency in 2026. MLS teams will be able to spend up to $13 million on roster by the final year of the deal, a feature that can be exceeded on the salaries of the team’s three designated players and as many as three players via a new league Under-22 player initiative teams can use to sign high-level young talent.

The upcoming season will also be able to start on April 3, as had been tentatively announced earlier this month.

“We have enormous respect and appreciation for everything the players have done helping build the league and the sport throughout the years, and they’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber in a prepared statement. “We thank the MLSPA leadership and the players for their thoughtful and collaborative approach on the new CBA. We worked together to address the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the league, and we appreciate the players’ efforts to develop a CBA that deals with the uncertainty of the pandemic while also providing stability during the next seven years to enable further growth.

“We look forward to seeing the players on the training field in a few weeks as they begin preparations for the upcoming season.”

Here is a more thorough summary of the key points in the ratified CBA:


  •  February 8, 2021 — January 31, 2028


Year Salary Budget General Allocation Money Discretionary TAM Available Spend
on Roster*
2021 $4,900,000 $1,525,000 $2,800,000 $9,225,000
2022 $4,900,000 $1,625,000 $2,800,000 $9,325,000
2023 $5,210,000 $1,900,000 $2,720,000 $9,830,000
2024 $5,470,000 $2,585,000 $2,400,000 $10,455,000
2025 $5,950,000 $2,930,000 $2,225,000 $11,105,000
2026 $6,425,000 $3,280,000 $2,125,000 $11,830,000
2027 $7,068,000 $3,921,000 $2,025,000 $13,013,000
  • Clubs can exceed these figures with spending on up to three Designated Players and up to three players through the league’s under-22 player initiative.
  • As was the case in the last CBA agreed to in June, players will share in the increased revenue generated by the league’s new media agreements beginning in 2023.
  • MLS will increase player spending by an amount equal to 12.5 percent of the incremental media revenue, as defined in the CBA, in 2023 and 2024, increasing to 25 percent for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons.  The league’s current local, national and international media rights partnerships expire at the end of 2022.
  • Team bonuses and 401(k) contributions will remain as agreed to in the previous CBA.
  • The Maximum Salary Budget Charge for a player increases from $612,500 in 2021 to $883,438 in 2027.
Year Maximum Salary Budget Charge 
2021 $612,500
2022 $612,500
2023 $651,250
2024 $683,750
2025 $743,750
2026 $803,125
2027 $883,438
  • Minimum salaries for players on the senior roster increase from $81,375 in 2021 to $125,875 in 2027.
  • Minimum salaries for players on reserve roster increase from $63,547 in 2021 to $97,700 in 2024.


  • Players had to be 24-years old with five years of MLS service to be eligible for free agency in the league under the most recent CBA, but eligibility will change to 24-years old with four years of MLS service beginning in 2026.
  • For the 2026 and 2027 seasons only, the new CBA also has modifications to the increases in compensation that free agents can earn:
    • For players making the maximum salary budget charge or less, a free agent can sign a contract with another club with an initial salary of the greater of $25,000 above the maximum salary budget charge, or 20 percent above the player’s prior salary.
    • For players making between the maximum salary budget charge and the maximum Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) amount, the player could earn 20 percent above the prior salary up to $500,000 above the maximum salary budget charge and 15 percent of such salary from $500,000 above the maximum salary up to the maximum TAM amount.


Leave a Comment