What is Nashville’s roster situation as it relates to the various designations (money, designated players, international slots) available to teams in Major League Soccer?
Let’s take a look! (Example of a league-generated breakdown: Atlanta United from the September Roster Compliance Deadline). Since we have limited information on salaries for each player, there are going to be some guesses and/or assumptions, so bear with me if the next Roster Compliance Deadline – March 1, the day after NSC’s debut in the league – comes around and we end up with a slightly different picture.
A more holistic breakdown of MLS roster rules is here, but I’ll give a general definition of each slot, as well. The important thing to note is that none of these different categories have an impact on how many minutes guys can play: everybody 1-30 is available for selection in any game.
|Slots 1-20 on the roster, these are the guys who count against the Salary Budget (a.k.a. cap). They must make at least the Senior Minimum ($70,250 last year, pending the outcome of CBA negotiations, it’ll be at least $73,750 this year – and probably more). Designated Players fit into this category even though only part of their salary counts against the Budget.
The minimum allowable roster fill by MLS rule is 18 Senior Slots and none from the off-budget categories.
|Two different distinctions here, described below. These players do not count against the salary cap.|
|Four slots for any players making the senior minimum salary (or whose budget charge is bought down to it with allocation money).
Generation Adidas players (Nashville can acquire one in the Draft Thursday) also automatically count in this category, even though they typically make more than the senior minimum.
|Players who are 24 or younger as of Jan. 1, and earn the Reserve Minimum ($56,250 last year, at least $59,000 pending the outcome of CBA negotiations), or have budget charges bought down to it with allocation money.
There are four spots available to all Reserve-eligible players (by age and budget), but two additional spots open up for Homegrown Players. Each team can split $125k in Homegrown Subsidy to buy down HGs to fit into this category.
As you can see, the roster with 23 players is pretty much filled out. A few points of clarification: while Jones made over the Senior Minimum last year, he’s Nashville SC’s only Homegrown player (thanks, Philadelphia!), and thus the only guy they have who can fill one of those final two slots. With $125,000 in Homegrown Subsidy to spend, and only one guy to spend it on, NSC can easily bridge the gap to buy him down.
On to the other roster categories:
|Three slots for players who make above the Maximum Budget Charge ($530,000 last year, at least $556,000 this year, pending outcome of CBA negotiations), and do not have their budget hit bought down with allocation money. There’s no limit to how much they can make, but only the Max Budget Charge counts against the cap.|
|2||AM/W||Randall Leal (Young DP)|
|Players who are not American citizens or Green Card holders. Each team gets eight per year, but they are tradable assets and Nashville has taken advantage of that opportunity twice already.|
|Unavailable||Traded to Montreal Impact in Daniel Lovitz deal.|
|Unavailable||Traded to Sporting Kansas City in Jimmy Medranda/Adrian Zendejas deal.|
Leal will likely start the season as a Young Designated Player, but his salary is in the range that could also be bought below the individual Maximum Budget Charge with allocation money. The expectation is he spends the first half of the year as a Young DP and if Nashville can add another DP in the Summer Transfer Window, he’ll be bought down with Targeted Allocation Money.
As for international slots, Nashville has six of its original eight remaining, having traded two away on Expansion Draft day. Five of those slots are currently filled, though Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos were pursuing Green Cards as members of the USL franchise, and it’s just a matter of time – though there has been no update from the club as to whether that will come by March 1 – before they no longer take up those slots.
NSC has three Senior Roster openings, one Supplemental Roster slot and three Reserve Roster positions to fill. There’s some flexibility – particularly between the Supplemental Roster and the bottom end of the Senior Roster – so I went for simplicity by putting the three (non-Reserve-eligible) USL signings off-budget. Alan Winn is Reserve-eligible by age, and Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs mentioned that he’d be a Reserve Roster player (telling FCAC: “At the age he’s at, he’s got a certain designation that he’ll fill on our roster”), so there he is.
The team has one international slot remaining. If Cameron Lancaster isn’t healthy by the beginning of the season and hasn’t received his green card yet (and NSC needs an international slot), I would imagine he gets a half-season loan to a USL team as a rehab stint.
We’re expecting some specific signings before the season: A Generation Adidas player for that No. 4 spot in the Supplemental Roster should be drafted Thursday evening. Three more Reserve Roster-eligible players may come in the SuperDraft (though NSC could deal some picks instead). Jacobs has also said off-and-on that another Designated Player should come by the beginning of the season, and he would fill one of the Senior Roster slots – and likely the final International Slot.
I would expect one Senior slot to be left available (or available to be juggled open) for a mid-Summer signing of another Designated player.
Nashville SC front office and technical staff photo by Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country.