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Previewing the Upcoming MLS Re-Entry Draft

Maicon Santos, pictured here while he played with Toronto FC, is one of the bigger names on the MLS Re-Entry Process available players list. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Maicon Santos, pictured here while he played with Toronto FC, is one of the bigger names on the MLS Re-Entry Process available players list. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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Yesterday, Major League Soccer announced the list of players that would be eligable for selection in the upcoming MLS re-entry draft. The first stage of this year's draft will be held this coming Monday, December 5th.

Sporting Kansas City chose to decline the options the club held for midfielder Luke Sassano, and defender Shavar Thomas, which means they are fair game for the upcoming re-entry draft.

Those two moves did not come unexpected, as Sassano and Thomas didn't play much of a role for the club in 2011, and Sporting Kansas City can, in all likelihood, probably find better fits for the direction the club is going. Especially in the case of Thomas, who according to the MLS Players Union, made over $175K this season to sit on the bench.

The re-entry draft, which is a two stage draft, can be a bit of a confusing process to the average MLS fan, so let's take a look at how this process breaks down, via MLSsoccer.com:

Both Stage 1 and Stage 2 drafts will be conducted in the same order as the traditional Waiver Draft, with the Montreal Impact selecting 19th. For those wondering, Sporting KC will draft 15th this year.

Each club may either select a player from the eligible player list, or pass. Once a team has passed, they may no longer participate in that stage of the Re-Entry Process. Each stage will continue until all 19 clubs have passed on the available players.

Clubs must exercise the option for, or extend a Bona Fide Offer to, players selected in Stage 1.

Players that were out of contract may either accept or reject the Bona Fide Offer. Should a player reject the offer, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS. Players with option years left on their contract will automatically be added to the drafting club’s roster.

Any player selected in Stage 1 will remain on the drafting club’s 2012 budget at the option price or Bona Fide Offer price until April 1, 2012. Clubs and players may not mutually renegotiate that price to a lower number until April 1, 2012.

Clubs may not select their own players in Stage 1. Players will have the opportunity to negotiate contracts and sign with their previous clubs after the Stage 1 draft is complete through 5 p.m. ET on December 9.

In Stage 2, clubs may select from players that are under contract and those not under contract. If a player is not under contract, the drafting club will be required to make a genuine offer to the player within seven days. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached between the drafting club and an out-of-contract player, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS.

Clubs may select their own players in the Stage 2 draft only after all other clubs have declined to select those players.

If a player is not selected in either stage of the Re-Entry Process, that player will be available on a first come first serve basis to all clubs.

Thoroughly confused yet? Well, there's more. Now let's take a look at which players are actually eligible for the Re-Entry Process:

  1. Players who are at least 23-years-old and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2012).
  2. Players who are at least 25-years-old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not offer them a contract at their previous salary (available at 2011 salary).
  3. Players who are at least 30-years-old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them (available for at least 105% of their 2011 salary).
Players who are not selected in the Stage 1 draft will be made available for the Stage 2 draft on December 12. Clubs selecting players in Stage 2 will negotiate a new salary with the player.
Players who remain unselected after Stage 2 will be available to any MLS club on a first come, first served basis.
Players with expiring contracts or options that are not renewed by their clubs who do not meet the age and service requirements necessary to be included in the Re-Entry Draft were part of the Waiver Draft on Nov. 23.

Now that we've looked at the rules for the Re-Entry Process, let's take a look at the players that were left unprotected by their respective clubs (click link).

Scanning through the list of names, a few players stood out for one reason or the other:

  • LA Galaxy forward Adam Cristman's option was declined by the club. As many of you remember, Kansas City traded Cristman to DC United in early 2010 for one of DC's international roster spots. I'm sure Cristman's performance during the MLS Cup Final did little to help his case for staying with the Galaxy.
  • I was going to mention Bobby Boswell, but as I was typing this article it appears Houston have agreed on a contract extension with him. I was rather surprised that Boswell was on the list, but it all makes sense now that he's extended in Houston.
  • The inclusion of FC Dallas forward Maicon Santos is a little surprising. The 27 year old Brazilian midfielder probably still has a number of good years ahead of him, and his wage isn't too off the charts at $126K per year).
  • There was some talk of San Jose midfielder/defender Bobby Convey being a potential target for Sporting KC at the left back spot, but that was before Seth Sinovic was traded back to the club this past week. Either way, I imagine Convey's wages ($336K) would have been enough for Sporting KC to steer clear regardless.
In regards to Sporting KC, I don't think there are probably any players listed that the club would probably want to pick up in the first stage of the Draft. Remember, a club must pick up the current contract of any player they might select in the first stage.

If Kansas City do make a move, I would imagine it would happen in the second stage, which will be held on December 12th, where Sporting KC would be able to negotiate a new contract with whichever player they select.

Any player that Sporting would be able to pick up in the second stage would probably be nothing more than a depth signing, so a lower salary will make a big difference.

In last year's Re-Entry Draft, Kansas City saw DC United select forward Josh Wolff and Chivas USA select defender Jimmy Conrad, both in the second stage of the process.

Kansas City also selected defender Frankie Hejduk, but ended up trading him to the LA Galaxy for Luke Sassano.

Now, a year later, Sassano finds himself in this year's Re-Entry Draft.