Major League Soccer announced recently that roster sizes have been increased from 24 players per team to 26. The reason behind this move is to allow teams to sign more local “homegrown” talent.
In addition to the roster increase, the MLS announced that teams will now be allowed to sign homegrown players to Generation Adidas contracts without the players having to enter the MLS draft. These players must come from youth teams from within the team’s organization. Each franchise may sign a maximum of four players each year.
Since 2007, each MLS franchise has been required to field two youth teams each year. In order for players to bypass the draft under the new guidelines, the players must have played for a minimum of one year for a franchise’s youth teams. Since the institution of the youth team program, ten players have moved on to play on MLS rosters.
It is wondered whether these youths will have the professionalism and maturity to play at this high of a level. Many youths from 18 to 20 tend spend their time partying, playing on line poker and being typical young adults. Todd Durbin, MLS executive VP, said “Many of those players are ready to take the next step in their development by becoming professionals.”
A homegrown player skipping the draft and signing directly to a team will make a minimum of $31,250. Typically, a player going through the draft will make $40,000 and up. While $31,250 is still plenty of money to go party and play poker with, it is still $8,750 a year less than a drafted player.
What impact that this will have on rosters remains to be seen, but one should expect to see the number of homegrown players jump significantly.