In 2022, Sporting Kansas City will move their second team from the USL Championship to the newly formed MLS Next Pro league, which will reside in the third division of US Soccer (the same tier as USL League One). However, we don’t really know what the rules for building a roster in MLS Next Pro are at this point, despite the season starting around the end of March.
That is, until now. Jeff Rueter, of The Athletic, got the inside scoop from teams who have been learning the rules. For a full reading of the known rules, check out his story on The Athletic. I’ll hit a few of the high points for those unable to read behind the paywall.
- Teams will own player contracts, not the league. No single entity here.
- There will be no salary cap! (For comparison, MLS has a salary budget that’s quite complex).
- Teams get seven international slots.
- Pay structures and maximum and minimum salaries won’t exist, giving teams flexibility in how they set this up.
- There is no minimum roster size, but teams are believed to be carrying at least 12 contracted players, not counting up to 11 amateur academy players. The max roster size is 24 outside of those 11, so up to 35 players.
- At least half the players (six) of the players on the field cannot be on Academy deals, that’s going away from only five being allowed to be in the gameday 18 in USL.
- MLS teams will retain protection from other teams stealing players. They have protection over any players in their Academy or on Homegrown deals, three transfer windows worth of protection over SuperDraft picks and protections over “a number” of MLS Next Pro signings that fit into neither category but are under 24. In the USL Championship that number was three, but it’s expected to be more.
The full rules are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks and presumably made public at that time. There are more details available on how trades work, the elimination of funny money and a more traditional transfer system. Jeff gets deeper into each of those subjects, so I really recommend a full read. My DM’s are open on Twitter if you want a 30 day guest pass to The Athletic, I still have a few left.
Sporting KC Rumored Streaming Prices are Insane
While MLS and Sporting Kansas City aren’t mentioned (oh, the lack of respect), Bally Sports are set to launch a streaming application in 2022. According to projections the cost would be an astounding $18.75 per month, or $225 per year. Now it’s unlikely anyone would pay every month since SKC only play a portion of the year, but it’s for most of the year.
To cover this year’s schedule, you’d need eight months, or $150. Also, there is no indication if you’ll pay per team, or if the Kansas City Royals would be included. It’s still early and the app is awaiting approval and not set to launch until the MLB season starts, which would be after soccer season. Bally have the rights to 16 NBA teams, 12 NHL teams, four MLB teams and at least one MLS team (SKC).
This is the last year of the deal between Sporting KC and Bally Sports. It’s hard to imagine people won’t just find another way to watch Sporting (like a VPN and an ESPN+ subscription) or simply not watch at all.
Amadou Dia Joins Louisville City FC
Former Sporting Kansas City left back Amadou Dia is headed back to the USL Championship. After three years in the USL with Phoenix Rising, Dia broke back through to MLS to rejoin Sporting KC, but he never became a regular. He had a stretch at the end of 2020 but in 2021 he only made four appearances and one start for 101 minutes of league play.
He’ll join Louisville, who are consistent USL contenders. Dia is now 28-years-old and will surely have a strong shot at being the day-in, day-out left back in Kentucky to try to earn another run in Major League Soccer.
St. Louis City SC Name Interim MLS Next Pro Coach
Former Louisville City FC coach and sporting director John Hackworth will run the team to begin the year. What is interesting is he’ll start the season as Interim coach but turn the team over to Andreas Schumacher, their MLS Next Academy, when the academy season ends.
NEXT up: @hackworthsoccer— St. Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) January 14, 2022
Our Director of Coaching John Hackworth will also serve as Interim Head Coach of our @MLSNEXTPRO team. #STLNP #OneTeamOneCITY
The team has no official name that I can see, just referring to it as St Louis NEXT Pro on their site.
Additionally, St. Louis provided an update on their building permits and training fields related to their academy, including some renderings. The team also has one signed player, Josh Yaro, who played for the Philadelphia Union, their former USL team, the Bethlehem Steel, San Antonio FC and the San Diego Loyal. It’s expected his deal allows him to go to the MLS team in 2023.
- The United States Boy’s U-17 National Team called up SKC Academy midfielder Edgar Bazan from Overland Park. I won’t lie, I don’t know anything about Edgar, but this seems promising and is another name to watch.
- El Paso Locomotive leaked another Sporting KC preseason game. This one is on Wednesday, February 9th. The team has confirmed that they will release the full schedule and the roster that travelled to Arizona on Monday. No word yet of any game broadcasts.
- Canadian superstar Alphonso Davies is ruled out of Canada’s upcoming World Cup Qualifying games (including against the USMNT) after a COVID-related heart issue.
- Toronto FC signed Lorenzo Insigne to an insane deal, but Sam Stejskal points out, it just shows how inefficient the MLS roster spend is.
- Former The Blue Testament writer and on-screen personality, Aly Trost, joins Extra Time to discuss the Alan Pulido news.
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