Prior to the 2015 MLS season, the Major League Soccer Players Union (MLSPU) and club owners agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). During negotiations, the MLSPU pushed hard for free agency. Although the deal included a multitude of smaller agreements, the big win for players was the acquisition of a form of free agency.
In order to attain free agency, the MLSPU conceded the salary budget, or salary cap. A salary budget player is one of the 20 players on a team that counts against the salary cap.
With free agency, players who meet the qualifications have the ability to sign with whatever team they like. Most major sports in the United States have some form of free agency. Usually, a player is only eligible for free agency when they are out of contract.
Free agency is one small step in the process of increasing MLS’ competitiveness with the top European leagues. However, the deal was very specific and only applied to a select number of MLS veterans. There are currently only 26 free agents in the entire MLS. It was also agreed in the deal that a free agent’s salary cannot increase by more than 15%-25%, depending on the amount they were previously paid.
Under the agreement, the qualifications for free agency are:
- The player must be either out of contract or didn’t have their option picked up following the 2015 season by their former club.
- They must be at least 28 years old.
- They must have been in the MLS for at least eight years.
Sports Illustrated journalist Grant Wahl believes that all-star defender Drew Moor is one of the more popular free agents. Moor previously played for the Colorado Rapids, and currently, the Rapids, Toronto FC, and about a half dozen other teams are interested in signing him.
The Full List of Free Agents
GK: Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Troy Perkins (Seattle Sounders), Kyle Reynish (New York Red Bulls), Andrew Weber (Portland Timbers)
DF: Corey Ashe (Orlando City SC), Bobby Burling (Colorado Rapids), Ty Harden (Chicago Fire), Michael Harrington (Colorado Rapids), Stephen Keel (FC Dallas), Drew Moor (Colorado Rapids), James Riley (Colorado Rapids)
MF: Eric Avila (Orlando City SC), Brian Carroll (Philadelphia Union), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Ned Grabavoy (New York City FC), Nick LaBrocca (Colorado Rapids), Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire), Justin Mapp (Montreal Impact), Paulo Nagamura (Sporting Kansas City), Khari Stephenson (San Jose Earthquakes), Nathan Sturgis (Houston Dynamo)
FW: Chad Barrett (Seattle Sounders), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union), Kenny Cooper (Montreal Impact), Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)