A Guide to MLS Draft Mania and the Offseason Schedule

FRISCO - As the 2018 MLS campaign comes to a close on Saturday night in Atlanta, there’s no time to waste as all eyes shift to 2019 and MLS Draft Mania (trademark pending) kicking off on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

EXPANSION DRAFT - Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 1PM

With FC Cincinnati officially joining the league as the 24th team next season, it’s time once again for the all-too-familiar expansion draft. Teams will announce who makes their 11-player protected lists on Monday and then Tuesday, Cincinnati will make five selections from the players left available on 18 of the other 23 MLS rosters. The five teams who had players selected by LAFC in last year’s expansion draft are exempt from having a player selected this season.

WAIVER DRAFT - Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 3PM

The waiver draft opens up a trio of mechanisms designed to keep MLS players in the league, should any other team want them. All of these drafts are conducted in the reverse order of the 2018 standings with FC Cincinnati selecting last.

Specifically for the Waiver Draft, these are players who have been in MLS less than three seasons and had their contract options declined by their previous teams or otherwise have been waived following the 2018 season. If a player is in negotiations with his previous club or the club has expressed interest in bringing a player back to preseason camp, the club is not forced to waive the player and therefore he would not have to appear in the Waiver Draft list.

This is usually the shortest of the drafts as very few players are selected. Under Contract players who are selected in the Waiver Draft are automatically added to the drafting club’s roster and clubs that claim out of contract players must issue a genuine offer to the selected player.

RE-ENTRY DRAFT, STAGE ONE - Friday, Dec. 14 at 2PM

The Re-Entry Draft as a whole makes up the second two parts of MLS trying to place a priority on players in the league already. Players eligible for the Re-Entry Draft are at least 23 years old with a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose contract options were not exercised by their clubs. This is also the home to players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract, but do not yet qualify for MLS Free Agency (eight years minimum experience).

Stage One of the Re-Entry draft requires teams to automatically pick up a player’s 2019 contract option or issue a Bona Fide Offer to the player. This is where in 2015 Dallas traded up to the top spot to select Maxi Urruti from Portland, who was automatically added to the clubs roster at his 2016 contract option value.

This is the lesser-used of the two stages because teams have to guarantee a spot on the roster to any player take, whereas clubs draft the right to negotiate with a player in Stage Two.

RE ENTRY DRAFT, STAGE TWO - Thursday, Dec. 20 at 1PM

The same field of players who weren’t selected in Stage One are again available in Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft. Unlike in Stage One, players who are drafted here are not guaranteed a spot on the roster as teams instead are drafting for the right to negotiate with a player who was cut from another team.

Atiba Harris was the most recent player FC Dallas selected in Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft back in 2014.

2019 MLS SUPERDRAFT - Friday, Jan. 11 at Time TBD

After a grueling three-week hiatus, Draft Mania concludes in Chicago with the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Here, some 100 collegiate athletes will hear their names called to take the next step in their careers. Dallas has fared well in recent years at the draft and will continue to look to bolster its young Homegrown talent with other top, young college talents from across the nation.