Shedding some light on the mentality behind how teams view MLS' two-stage Re-Entry Draft

Conor and Jim

So many drafts in Major League Soccer. So many.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand the nuances behind them all.

Shedding some light on the mentality behind how teams view MLS' two-stage Re-Entry Draft -

In the case of the latest one, Friday’s Stage I of MLS’ Re-Entry Draft (3 p.m.), it gives players out of contract or who had their contracts declined by their current clubs a chance to get a fresh start somewhere else.
But it can also mean that a player can test his mettle elsewhere for as much as he’s making now if a club is willing to take him at his current contract. That’s in specifics is the reason for Stage I.
Because if a club takes any of the players that are on this list on Day 1 then you are stuck with that player’s salary number as well.
Generally, this is why many teams will pass on Stage I and hope that another team doesn’t share their mentality on a player and that their spot will afford them the luxury to buy down on that price in Stage II (Thursday, Dec. 18) where clubs have more leverage.
According to MLS guidelines, if a club selects a player they must present a bona fide offer within seven days after the draft. Of course the deal is subject to League approval, but if the team and the player agree on the figure, then the club just retained the rights to a player that will benefit the club in two main ways.

  • Become an effective (if not serviceable) member of the club’s roster
  • Become a player the club can deal for trade in return for myriad options

If a player is not selected by any club then he becomes “available to any club on a first come, first serve basis.”
Translation: a free agent that can trial with clubs willing to give him a look.
There are a lot of drafts, but the beauty of this one in particular is that it gives players a fresh start, clubs a chance to grab a player they believe still holds value for a bargain and if selected in Stage II getting that player at a reduced rate all parties agree on.
Where’s Conor Casey?
In Stage I of the Draft, there was a lot of talk as to why Union forward Conor Casey, whose option was declined by the club wasn’t listed among the 62-man rundown of players eligible for selection.
It should be explained that just because a  team declines a player, it doesn’t mean that the team can’t negotiate with said player on a new deal.
In fact, the League allows club’s to negotiate and sign their own Re-Entry Draft eligible players to new contracts.
Earlier this week, Union technical director Chris Albright told reporters:
“Some of these [situations] are still playing out. I would say that per our statement today, there are still ongoing discussions with guys regarding contracts and there are a lot of mechanisms within the League that we have to get through here in regards to the Expansion Draft and Re-Entry Draft  in the next few weeks. However, there are ongoing discussions with Conor and other guys [on our roster].”
This holds true for not just Casey, but a number of players the technical staff  constantly evaluates who could still be of some value, both on the field or off to the club. Or it could also be the player, who expresses his desire to stay put. Earlier Friday morning writer Dave Zeitlin posted the following:

While clubs will never give away its cards on who they like and who they don’t (simply not smart for any professional sports team, really), will try to provide a bit of insight behind the rules and regulations MLS clubs must operate behind as they continually try to make the right decisions for a club who’s ownership group, constituents, but most importantly its fan base all want the same thing:
A perennial contender.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at

On Sale Now!

On Sale Now!

Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

Stay in the Know
Stay in the Know


The Boys in Blue, delivered to your inbox. Tickets, deals, giveaways, and more.