by Ryan Bailey
MLS 101 is your guide to the rules and regulations that will shape Charlotte’s Major League Soccer team. Here, we look at one of the ways in which the team will build its roster…
What is the Expansion Draft?
Ahead of their inaugural season, expansion teams can participate in the Expansion Draft, in which they pick five players from existing teams.
At the 2019 Expansion Draft last November, for example, Inter Miami selected former MVP candidate Lee Nguyen from LAFC with their third pick, while Nashville used its first pick to bring in striker Abu Danladi from Minnesota Utd.
At the 2020 Expansion Draft, expected to be held later this year, Charlotte MLS and Austin FC will make their five respective picks.
What format does the Expansion Draft take?
Expansion teams take turns making their five picks, and the order is decided by coin toss at the MLS Expansion Priority Draft. (That event is also used to determine other priorities, including the order the expansion teams will pick in the SuperDraft, and the Allocation Ranking Order.)
Current clubs are able to protect 12 players from the Expansion Draft, and only one player may be selected from each club.
In 2019, each club that had a player selected from their unprotected roster received $50,000 in General Allocation Money as means of compensation.
Also, any side that gave up players in the previous year’s draft is exempt from participating. Therefore, New York City FC, Minnesota United, FC Cincinnati, Portland Timbers, LAFC, New England Revolution, Columbus Crew, Atlanta Utd, Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City will likely be exempt from the Expansion Draft.
Expansion teams are on the clock for three minutes and there are no timeouts. No trades are permitted during the draft, but they typically take place afterwards (more on that shortly).
Which players are eligible to be selected in the Expansion Draft?
Expansion clubs make their picks from the Eligible Player list, which is typically made available three days before the Expansion Draft. The list is put together after each participating club has decided who will be among their 12 protected players.
Do players picked in the Expansion Draft tend to play for the expansion team?
Often, the five players drafted by expansion teams in the Expansion Draft do not all end up playing for the team — at least one pick is usually traded to other clubs in exchange for other players or assets.
In 2019, for example, Nashville traded fourth pick Brandon Vazquez to FC Cincinnati in exchange for $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money.
“In the past four iterations of the Expansion Draft, three-to-four of the picks selected will play for the expansion team, while the other picks are traded,” says Charlotte MLS Director of Player Personnel Bobby Belair. “In 2020, it will be important for us to be open to trade opportunities, while also finding value in the players we select.”
When and where will the 2020 Superdraft take place?
The precise details of the 2020 Expansion Draft have yet to be set by the league, but every other edition has taken place in either November or December.
“We can look at previous draft rules and dates as a benchmark, but we must be prepared for changes to be efficient and flexible with our strategy,” says Belair.
It is likely that Charlotte MLS fans will be able to follow the Expansion Draft action live. Last year’s edition was broadcast live on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS app.
“Charlotte MLS is already preparing for the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft and it will be important for us to assess all players that will potentially be available for selection,” says Belair. “Our strategy will be developed throughout the year and largely dependent on our roster needs during that period of time.”