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What the New MLS Roster Rules Mean for Orlando City

Major League Soccer's roster rules usually require an advanced degree to decipher. Here's a primer on the new player acquisition mechanisms as revealed today by MLS and what they mean for Orlando City.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer announced revised allocation and discovery player acquisition mechanisms, which go into effect today.

Under the revised rules, there will be no more weighted lotteries or blind draws (a la Jermaine Jones to New England) to determine where a player goes. It will all be ruled by the allocation order and the discovery process.

Allocation

MLS will maintain a public list of players, known as the Allocation Ranking List, that are subject to the Allocation Process. Clubs will have the right to acquire players based on their order in the allocation rankings (Orlando City is currently 19th). Allocation ranking order is determined by the reverse order of finishing position in the previous season, taking playoff performance into account. A club drops to the bottom of the allocation ranking order after acquiring a player via this mechanism, as Orlando City did after signing Brek Shea, for example.

Allocation ranking is comprised of players in these categories, as determined by MLS's player personnel department and club technical staffs:

  • Select U.S. Men's National Team players
  • Select elite U.S. Youth National Team players
  • Players transferred outside of MLS garnering a transfer fee of at least $500,000 (USD)

MLS will maintain its Allocation Ranking List, making it public at mlssoccer.com and updating once per year, between the end of the regular season and MLS Cup. However, it will be updated if an elite U.S. youth national team player turns 18 or graduates from the U.S. Soccer Residency Program and deemed eligible, or when a player is transferred out of MLS for more than $500,000.

Confused yet?

Discovery

A player not listed on the allocation ranking list may be signed through the Discovery Process. Teams may place seven players on their Discovery List, down from 12 under the old rules. MLS will keep teams' Discovery lists confidential and clubs may remove and add names to their lists throughout the year.

If multiple teams want a player, that player goes to the first team to file a discovery claim on him. So, basically, this is like calling "dibs."

A club can sign a player on the Discovery List of another team by offering $50,000 in Allocation Money in exchange for the right to sign the player. That team must then either: accept the Allocation Money and give up the opportunity to sign the player or make the player a genuine, objectively reasonable offer. This should prevent teams from keeping the rights to players in perpetuity.

In addition to Allocation Ranking List players, the following are exempt from the Discovery Process:

  • SuperDraft Eligible Players -- U.S. youth national team players, college players and players with college eligibility (including players under the age of 18)
  • Homegrown Players -- Players developed in a club's youth academy
  • College Protected Players -- Players selected in the MLS SuperDraft and did not sign an MLS contract
  • Other Unsigned Players -- Players who were on a club's roster who that club attempted, but were unable, to re-sign at the expiration of their contract or on a club's Discovery List and who that club attempted, but were unable, to sign.
    Recent examples include the New England Revolution's Juan Agudelo and Sporting Kansas City's Roger Espinoza, two players who returned to MLS after playing abroad
  • Waived Players - Players who have been previously waived by an MLS club

The league also announced that the roster size limit for 2015 is 28, which means that there are two players of the 30 named on Orlando City's player page that are not on the active roster. Presumably, Sidney Rivera (on loan to Louisville City FC) is one and Tally Hall (injured) the other, but we do not yet have confirmation.

Other notes:

The club's senior roster is made up of spots 1-20 on the 28-man roster and count against the club's 2015 salary budget of $3,490,000.

Players occupying roster spots 21-28 are the supplemental roster, and do not count against the club's salary budget. All Generation Adidas players are Supplemental Roster players. Players occupying roster spots 21-24 will earn at least $60,000 in 2015. Players occupying roster spots 25-28 will earn at least $50,000 in 2015.

There are still just three non-tradeable Designated Player spots per club. DPs over the age of 23, such as Kaká, carry a salary budget charge of $436,250, unless the player joins his club after the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window, in which case his budget charge will be $218,125.

A Designated Player 20 years old or younger counts as $150,000 against the club's salary budget and a Designated Player 21-23 years old counts as $200,000. Bryan Rochez counts as the former, and Carlos Rivas the latter.

Clubs still have the option of "buying down" the budget charge of a Designated Player with allocation money. The reduced charge may not be less than $150,000.

We made a request to Orlando City for clarity of the Lions' current official roster situation. The club confirmed that one player is on the injured list and that Sidney Rivera is officially on loan to Louisville. For now, here's my best guess as to the rest of the current designations or the OCSC roster:

Senior Roster*

Donovan Ricketts
Josh Ford
Brek Shea
Luke Boden
Seb Hines
Aurelien Collin
Sean St. Ledger
Rafael Ramos
Bryan Rochez -- Young DP (20 or under)
Carlos Rivas -- Young DP (21-23)
Amobi Okugo
Darwin Ceren
Eric Avila
Kaká -- DP
Kevin Molino
Lewis Neal
Tony Cascio
Danny Mwanga
Martin Paterson
Pedro Ribeiro

Supplemental Roster*

Earl Edwards Jr.
Cyle Larin
Conor Donovan
Tommy Redding
Tyler Turner
Harrison Heath
Estrela
Cristian Higuita

On Loan: Sidney Rivera (Louisville City FC)

Disabled List: Tally Hall

*Completely and totally unofficial. As unofficial as you'd expect from a "best guess."

If this is anywhere near accurate, and it might not be, room will have to be made for Tally Hall to join the club's official Senior Roster. The most obvious way to do that is to assign someone else on loan to Louisville City FC. There are several candidates for that and it could even rotate among a few players.

TL;DR: There are some new rules that should hopefully make things more clear but probably won't and we're not sure exactly what the Lions' official roster looks like.