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Rules of Expansion

On December 10th, New York City FC and Orlando City will take part in selecting players from the current MLS franchises. With the Philadelphia Union roster possibly seeing one or two players wearing different colors next season due to the draft, it is important to know what to expect. Here is our rundown on the rules of the expansion draft.

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If you've been frequenting the Brotherly Game recently, you've seen all of the You Be The GM posts asking who should earn a protected spot in the Expansion Draft. So what exactly does that mean? Did you know there is a certain number of international players that you can leave unprotected? Where do Generation Adidas contracts fall in the entire ordeal?

Well wonder no more! Enjoy the step-by-step rundown on the Expansion Draft.

  • MLS clubs may protect 11 players between their Senior Roster and their Supplemental Roster. If the player’s contract expires at the end of 2014, he will still be considered part of the club’s roster.
The Union have decided to protect eleven players on their roster. Those players will not be eligible for NYCFC or OCSC to select. Even if a player's contract is expired, if the team is working on a new deal they will need to protect him, or else one of the new teams can select him and pick up where the Union leave off in contract negotiations. If the Union had not traded Amobi Okugo, he would be an example of this rule. While he is technically at the end of his contract, the Union might not have completed a new one before the Expansion Draft. If they wanted to protect him to give the club the option to complete a deal, they would need to protect him, or else they will likely lose the opportunity to complete a deal as he would be one of the better players available in the draft.

  • If a club protects a player, it is not obligated to exercise the player’s option. It may renegotiate subject to terms of the CBA
Even if a player is protected it is not a guarantee that he will be on the Union's roster next season. With contracts not being public knowledge it is hard to give an accurate example, however this is likely the case for younger members of the side who may have signed an initial contract running one or two years with a team option for an additional year. Leo Fernandes would be my guess at someone with this style contract. The Union could protect him in the draft, but decide later they will not pick up his option.
  • If a player retires, he will not be a part of the club’s roster, but his club will lose its right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to play.
Conor Casey and Brian Carroll would fall into this category. They are league vets who are nearing retirement. Should the Union leave them unprotected, they are selected by one of the expansion sides, decide to retire, but then come back to the game after a year of retirement, the Union would no longer own their rights. Not really too much to worry about here. There is very little chance an expansion team is going to pick someone likely to retire and they will be sure to have done their homework on anyone nearing that career milestone before selecting them. Plus, even if Carroll or Casey retire, then decided to come back to play in a year...would we really be interested?
  • Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster, other than Generation Adidas Players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2014 MLS season or Homegrown Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster, will be part of the expansion draft.
It's not just the everyday stars that will be up for grabs. Those on loan to Harrisburg City Islanders, or considered reserve players are also up for grabs. The only players that are not included will be Generation Adidas contracts (that are not expiring) and Homegrown Players. Players listed as "Supplemental" are Jimmy McLaughlin, Cristhian Hernandez, and Corben Bone. The only one that is eligible to be selected would be Bone as McLaughlin and Hernandez are Homegrown players.
  • Generation adidas Players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2014 MLS season and Homegrown Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster at the end of the 2014 MLS Season are automatically protected (clubs do not have to use a protected slot on them).
Basically the same rule restated, just with the addition that a spot does not have to be used to protect them. They are exempt from the drafting process.
  • 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 make available not more than one.
This is a really complexly worded way of saying, if you have more than three international players, you must protect three of them. This shouldn't be an issue for the Union with international players such as Rais M'Bolhi, Carlos Valdes, Vincent Nogueira, and Cristian Maidana likely to be protected. There won't be a reason to "waste" a protected slot on an international player just for the sake of meeting this requirement.
  • For purposes of this expansion process, for US-based clubs, any non-domestic US player would count as an International and, for Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, any non-domestic US player or non-domestic Canadian players would count as an International.
Further explanation on who is and who is not considered an International Player. As stated above with plenty of key players being from outside North America, this will not be an issue.
  • 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). However, if the Designated Player has a no-trade clause in his contract, then his MLS club must protect him and he will count as one of the 11 players who may be protected.
The Union's Designated Players, Maurice Edu and Cristian Maidana will be available for selection unless protected by the team. There is no way of knowing if either player has a no-trade clause in their contract for sure, but with Edu only being on loan, that is one I would assume lacks that clause. The Union's biggest decision in terms of DPs is with how they will be approaching Edu. If they are planning on purchasing him from Stoke they will need to protect him. If that is not in the front office's offseason plans, there is no need to waste a protected spot on the US International. It is worth noting that Orlando City has used only one DP slot (on Kaká) while NYCFC has used two slots (on Frank Lampard and David Villa).
  • Once two players have been claimed from a team’s non-protected roster, that team is eliminated from the expansion draft and may not lose any further players. In addition, once a player has been claimed from a club’s non-protected roster, that club may move a player from its non-protected roster to its protected roster.
  • Two key points here. When one unprotected player is selected in the draft, the Union will be able to select a twefth player to protect. If a second player is selected, the Union's remaining unprotected roster will be unavailable for selection, limiting the damage to the roster at just two. In 2010 the Union had two players selected in the Expansion Draft for the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. Shea Salinas and Alejandro Moreno were both selected by the Whitecaps. In a single team draft with the Montreal Impact, Justin Mapp was selected.
  • Rounds: The expansion draft will be 10 rounds.
The last one is super simple as well. The two teams will alternate through ten rounds of selections. That means there are twenty players to be selected in the draft. After the protected lists become public knowledge, it will be a nervous few days for players left available.

Keep an eye out here at the Brotherly Game for continued offseason coverage as the massive amount of drafts loom closer and closer. Join the conversation below and let us know what you are expecting Orlando and New York to do when the draft opens!