The long-rumored roster expansion for homegrown players was officially announced by Major League Soccer on Tuesday.
As part of their annual roster rules update, the league will now allow two additional roster spots - bringing the number to 30 - specifically for homegrown players. Clubs may also now use up to $200,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to sign homegrown players to their first MLS contract (TAM can’t be used for previously signed homegrowns).
“Youth development continues to be a key strategic priority for MLS,” Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President of Competition and Player Relations said in a news release. “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.”
The Philadelphia Union currently have three homegrown players on their roster, but only Auston Trusty was signed directly out of the academy ranks. Midfielder Derrick Jones signed his first professional contract out of the Union Academy with Bethlehem Steel FC before signing with the first team. The Union acquired the homegrown rights to rookie midfielder Adam Najem for a second round draft pick from the New York Red Bulls.
The additional TAM won’t impact the three current homegrowns since it can’t be used for players already on the roster but it will certainly give the Union additional leverage in negotiating contracts above the $53,000 minimum salary with future homegrown players.
Three additional updates were made to the 2017 roster rules:
- Intraleague loans that are initiated prior to the close of the Primary Transfer Window (February 14 - May 8) may now allow the loaned player to be recalled during the Secondary Transfer Window (July 10 – August 9) as agreed upon between the two clubs.
- The threshold for Extreme Hardship in 2017 will now include instances in which a club has fewer than four (4) available outfield substitutes.
- Targeted Allocation Money may now be used to sign Special Discovery Players.