Major League Soccer’s 2018-19 offseason will officially begin tonight at the conclusion of MLS Cup 2018, contested between Atlanta United FC and the Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. CT on FOX and UniMas. Beginning with a half-day trade window on Sunday morning, MLS clubs can start making their first roster adjustments heading into the 2019 campaign.
Next week’s calendar of events is highlighted by the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday, whereby FC Cincinnati will select up to five players for their inaugural roster. Because Sporting KC had a player selected in the 2017 Expansion Draft, the club is exempt from this year’s Expansion Draft.
Sporting KC will still have the chance to participate in the half-day trade window, the Waiver Draft and both stages of the Re-Entry Draft, as outlined below. Beginning Tuesday afternoon, the club can also begin to negotiate with Free Agents.
With that in mind, let’s revisit the upcoming slate of roster-building events during the MLS offseason.
Half-day Trade Window (Sunday, Dec. 9, until noon CT)
Following a three-month roster freeze, MLS clubs can begin making adjustments to their rosters. This is a four-hour window, beginning at 8 a.m. CT, in which clubs can sign and trade players (both non-Re-Entry Draft eligible and Re-Entry Draft eligible players).
Blackout Period begins (Sunday, Dec. 9, noon CT)
At noon CT on Sunday, a blackout period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign or trade their own draft-eligible players until conclusion of Expansion Draft, which takes place Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT.
2018 MLS Expansion Draft (Tuesday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m. CT)
While Generation adidas and off-budget Homegrown Players are automatically exempt, eligible MLS clubs may protect up to 11 players from selection in the Expansion Draft. FC Cincinnati may select up to five players from the eligible MLS player pool, and only one single player can be drafted from any one club. Sporting KC are one of five MLS clubs exempt from this year’s Expansion Draft.
The list of players available for selection in the Expansion Draft will be released by MLS Communications on Monday. The event will stream live on MLSsoccer.com at 1 p.m. CT. Click here for the full Expansion Draft rules.
MLS Free Agency Begins (Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. CT)
Starting at 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, clubs can engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Eligible players include Out of Contract and Option Decline players that meet the age (28) and years-of-service (eight) parameters. MLS Communications will make the complete list of Free Agents available on Monday.
2018 MLS Waiver Draft (Wednesday, Dec. 12, 3 p.m. CT)
The Waiver Draft consists of players who have been waived by clubs and do not meet minimum years of service requirement for the Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency. This draft is conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion club FC Cincinnati selecting last. Click here for the Waiver Draft rules.
The list of players eligible for selection in Waiver Draft will be released by MLS Communications by 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft Stage 1 (Friday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m. CT)
Both stages of the Re-Entry Draft are conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion club FC Cincinnati selecting last. Click here for the Re-Entry Draft rules.
The list of players eligible for selection in MLS Re-Entry Draft Stage 1 will be released by MLS Communications by 6 p.m. CT on Thursday.
2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 (Thursday, Dec. 20, 1 p.m. CT)
Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 is conducted in the same format as Stage 1 and consists of MLS players who were not selected in the Stage 1. Not necessarily all unselected Stage 1 players will be available, as players may re-sign with their previous club between stages or may opt out of the process. Teams selecting players in Stage 2 can negotiate new contracts with the player.
The list of players eligible for selection in MLS Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 will be released by MLS Communications at 6 p.m. CT on Dec. 19.
2019 MLS SuperDraft (Friday, Jan. 11, time TBD)
The 2019 MLS SuperDraft will take place on Jan. 11 in Chicago, with Sporting KC currently holding one pick in each of the four rounds at No. 21, 45, 69 and 93 overall.