Major League Soccer’s roster compliance deadline was this weekend, and Nashville SC have made a significant change to their roster designations. Randall Leal no longer occupies a Designated Player slot and new signing Rodrigo Piñeiro is listed as a U22 Initiative signing.
Leal, 24, was signed as a DP from Costa Rican powerhouse Saprissa last season, but fell within the range to be bought down with allocation money. After being bought down, Leal’s budget charge (including his salary and amortized transfer fee) are under the 2021 maximum budget charge of $612,500.
Piñeiro, 21, is officially listed as a U22 Initiative player. U22 Initiative players (“young money signings”, as coined by Sam Stejskal) have to be 22 or younger at the start of their first season, and can fill that designation until they turn 25 (provided they’re on their first or second contract and the deal was signed by age 22). This roster category doesn’t just apply to transfers from outside the league; Homegrown players and SuperDraft picks are also eligible.
Additionally, and most importantly, listing Piñeiro in a U22 slot opens up two additional U-22 Initiative slots for Nashville. If they had kept Leal in a “true” DP slot, their U-22 (“young money”) limit would be one, and Piñeiro would have filled that slot.
Buying down Leal means that Nashville now have three open young money slots, giving them much more flexibility in the transfer market.
The other change of significance is that Hany Mukhtar no longer occupies an international roster slot. Nashville had confirmed earlier in the offseason that several players would acquire green cards, and Mukhtar appears to be the first. Jhonder Cádiz, Randall Leal and Rodrigo Piñeiro are the only players who currently occupy an international slot (Miguel Nazarit is technically an international player, but since he’s loaned out he doesn’t use one of Nashville’s 2021 slots).
MLS clubs have until the start of the secondary transfer window on July 7 to change a players international status. If any of their international players receive a green card before the deadline, they’ll count as a domestic player.