MLS Has Some Sweet New Rules To Make The League Real Good

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Attention MLS fans! The league has some exciting news to share with you all! As put so eloquently in their press release, they “will be investing an additional $37 million in player compensation over the next two years.” What does this mean, you may ask? See for yourself:

The additional funds, which supplement the current $3.6 million salary budget per team in 2016, come in two forms: $800,000 of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in both 2016 and 2017 and $125,000 in extra Homegrown Player funds for each of the next two years.


  • TAM can be used to sign new players or re-sign current players that earn between $457,500 and $1 million;
  • TAM can be used to buy down a player contract to free up a Designated Player slot. If that happens, the club must simultaneously sign a new Designated Player at an investment equal or greater to than the player he is replacing;
  • Teams are not permitted to combine TAM and general allocation money on a player. Either TAM or general allocation money may be used on a player in a single season, not both;
  • TAM money can be traded by clubs;
  • The minimum budget charge for a player signing that uses TAM funds is $150,000; Any part of the $800,000 in TAM funds that go unused in 2016 will carry over to 2017;
  • Teams are allowed to commit, but not use or disburse, 2017 TAM funds toward a 2016 player contract;
  • Any of the $1.6 million in TAM funds per team that go unused by the end of the 2017 summer transfer window will revert back to the league.

In addition to TAM, teams will also have an incremental $125,000 per season to sign Homegrown players over each of the next two years. These funds can be spread across multiple Homegrown players.

These rules, as so coherently laid out above, will certainly help grow the league by facilitating the introduction of new players of a higher quality, being as their salaries will be higher than what is currently allowed by the salary cap, and while a cynic may ask why they don’t simply open the market up and either greatly expand the existing cap or get rid of it all together, which would negate the need for these overlong and partially misleading rules (all of this is money can be used, it doesn’t have to be, and as evidenced by the existing Designated Player and TAM rules which are utilized to vastly different degrees from team to team now, there’s no reason to expect each team to actually “invest” these funds to the maximum allotted levels) and then answer his own question by pointing out how the money, if unused, eventually reverts back to “the league” a.k.a. the various franchise owners as a whole who themselves share ownership of MLS, rendering that $37 million figure if not wholly illusory then at least highly speculative and exaggerated, and subsequently posit that the real goal of the ever-changing rule book is to continually obfuscate the processes that allegedly constrain the centrally controlled league’s behavior, adding in clause after technicality after loophole until no one really knows why moves happen the way they do and no one can complain when, say, Clint Dempsey lands exactly where the league office wants him, or when that same club can now offer a salary high enough to sign a potential star homegrown player, like Stanford’s Jordan Morris, to ensure that their preferred markets stay competitive without ever facing the market pressures of any of the other top leagues they keep promising to contend with Very Soon Now, Just You Wait, that would entail specious reasoning that, if included in one big string of words, would be no more clear or concise than the rules he so cynically sought to lambaste.


We’re excited to see where the league goes from here!


h/t Andy

Photo via Getty