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MLS 2017: The Year of Financial Transparency?

Major League Soccer has put in efforts to be more transparent in team finances and rosters

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

We often, justifiably, bash Major League Soccer for their lack of transparency, there perceived hidden rules, and their perceived biases. However, it is important too that we recognize when Major League Soccer is doing good things.

One of the chief complaints over the past five years or so has been the trading of General Allocation Money (GAM) or Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) between teams with no actual value attached to those figures. In January, MLS announced that they would divulge the amounts exchanged in trades. This has been important for understanding the value of players and for fans to feel more involved in the league (we like to know these numbers). For example, it was a big deal that Kevin Molino was traded to Minnesota. However, under the old system, we would be told ‘Molino was trade for a combination of GAM and TAM’. Meh. This season, we are told ‘Molino was traded for $450,000 in GAM and $200,000 in TAM’. Now THAT is a lot of funny money. That trade creates more intrigue from fans than the general announcement.

A brief additional note on GAM. Previously we were told that teams received money from missing the playoffs and advancing past the group stage of Champions. However, we had no idea how much was provided. Was it $20 or was it $2 million? This year, we have been told. Missing the playoffs is $200,000 while each MLS squad that advances to the quarterfinals of Champions League receive an equal cut of an additional $200,000. This season, that meant Vancouver Whitecaps, New York Red Bulls, and Dallas FC each received ~$66,666 in additional GAM.

The second major change that we saw was the transparency in the roster positions. In all our speculations over the salary cap and which roster positions each player occupied (as there were several options), it was a shot in the dark. We had no idea if Russell Teibert was on the senior roster or supplemental roster (which was the predominant theory). Turns out, he is on neither. Today, MLS finally gave us insight into which players are part of the 20 senior roster slots and which occupy the 4 supplemental and 4/6 reserve slots. Turns out, much to my surprise, Teibert is on the reserve roster.

I highly recommend looking at the above link. It is quite fascinating. The key takeaways.

  • We already mentioned Teibert being on the reserve rather than supplemental list.
  • Another important note is that David Edgar has been placed on the season-long injury list. What does that mean? There were expectations that Edgar would be back for the last part of the season (around September). However, this revelation states that Edgar will NOT be back this season, under any circumstances. Not that it is a bad thing, but that means we are stuck with Waston, Parker, Dean, and Seiler (with cover from Jacobson) at the back. If injuries hit....yikes! Luckily, Dean’s great showing on opening night helps me sleep at night, knowing that when Waston is suspended or away on international duty (don’t forget we have World Cup qualifying AND Gold Cup this summer), Parker and Dean can easily hold down the fort.
  • No surprise, Spencer Richey has been loaned to the ThunderCaps for the season.
  • Deybi Flores has been loaned out, which frees up a roster position and an international slot. What is confusing though is that he has been loaned to the ThunderCaps. Rules state that only one player can be loaned to affiliate for season. That is Richey, so I am unclear about Flores. I will try to find out more though.
  • Finally, no surprise, Brek Shea is listed as the 3rd designated player.

There you have it. The roster situation for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season. However, back to the initial point. It is important that we acknowledge when MLS does something good and it seems that we are moving towards a more transparent league and that can only mean good things as people like myself love to play with numbers and rosters and all that fun stuff!