Major League Soccer announced the new Roster Rules & Regulations for the 2021 season, which included confirmation of the reported U22 (or “young money”) initiative. The full list of rules and regulations can be found here. As always with MLS, it’s overly complex, but here are some of the highlights.
MLS teams can now sign three players aged 22 and under to high-value contracts at a lower budget charge. Players joining from leagues outside MLS must be newcomers to the league, on their first MLS contracts. Additionally, SuperDraft picks can fit into this new U22 slot during their second contract, and Homegrown players are eligible during their first or second contracts, if they meet the age and compensation requirements. Players signed to U22 Initiative contracts can occupy these roster slots through the season in which they turn 25.
These slots will be part of the club’s senior roster (slots 1-20). Teams can have up to three U22 Initiative players, but this depends on the number of Designated Players they have.
- If a club has an open DP slot, the club will have three available U22 spots
- If a club signs a third DP, their U22 slots will be impacted as follows:
- If the third DP is a Young DP (23 and under), the club will have all three U22 slots
- If the third DP is 24 or older, but is at or below the maximum TAM amount ($1,612,500), the club will have all three U22 slots
- If the third DP is 24 or older, and is above the maximum TAM amount, that club will only have on U22 slot
If a club sells a U22 player, they’re able to keep 100% of the transfer fee and convert a percentage of that fee to GAM.
Starting in 2021, a player’s international status cannot be changed after the Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 7. Receiving a green card would only change a player’s status from international to domestic before the window opens. Players who receive green cards after July 7 will continue to occupy international slots for the rest of the season.
In 2022, players’ international or domestic status will lock in on the roster compliance date.
Starting in 2021, no amount of money earned in the transfer of a DP can be converted to GAM. Clubs had previously been allowed to convert fees into GAM after they recouped all the prior transfer fees and salaries over the maximum budget charge.
2021 salary budget information
- Club Salary Budget – $4,900,000
- Maximum Salary Budget Charge – $612,500
- Senior Minimum Salary – $81,375
- Reserve Minimum Salary – $63,547
- Designated Player Salary Budget Charge – $612,500
- Second Designated Player Salary Budget Charge – $612,500
- Third Designated Player Salary Budget Charge – $612,500
- Young Designated Player Budget Charge (20 years old or younger during the League Year) – $150,000
- Young Designated Player Budget Charge (21-23 years old during the League Year) – $200,000
- Mid-Season Designated Player Salary Budget Charge – $306,250
- Mid-Season Young Designated Player Salary Budget Charge – $150,000
- Maximum Targeted Allocation Money Amount – $1,612,500
- U22 Spot Budget Charge (20 years old or younger during the League Year) – $150,000
- U22 Spot Budget Charge (21-23 years old during the League Year) – $200,000
Player professional development role
New in 2021, clubs can employ one player per season in a “professional development role”. Provided the player meets certain conditions, the player will work in different parts of the club’s off-field business (coaching, scouting, front office, diversity liason, etc) to develop skills for after their playing career.