FC Cincinnati MLS Roster Building and Key Dates

Photo by Joe Craven

Now that #CrestGate is waning and “Gary the Knifey Lion” is a thing, it’s time to focus attention on FC Cincinnati’s 2019 MLS roster.

As background, MLS active rosters comprise of up to 30 players. Anyone of these players are eligible for selection on an 18-man match day roster. However, there are various levels of roster spots available to FCC, with the following distinct parameters.

FC Cincinnati Senior Roster – spots 1 – 20

  • these player slots count against the club’s salary budget (cap) which was $4,035,000 in 2018.
  • spots 19 & 20 are not required to be filled, meaning the salary cap can be spread against 18 players, if desired.
  • a single player can carry a maximum budget charge ($504,375 in 2018). Note that allocation money (General and Targeted) can be used to buy down this amount per player.
  • exceptions to these spots include Season-Ending Injury ReplacementsDisabled List, and Loans.

Supplemental Roster, spots 21 – 24

  • these roster spots may be filled with (i) Senior Minimum Salary Budget Charge Players ($67,500 in 2018) including Homegrown Players, (ii) Generation Adidas Players, or (iii) any specifically Designated Players eligible for the MLS SuperDraft; or (iv) Homegrown Players earning more than the Senior Minimum Salary subject to the  Homegrown Player Subsidy.
  • all Generation Adidas players are considered Supplemental Roster players until they graduate from the program.
  • all players on the Supplemental Roster must be paid a base salary equal to the Senior Minimum Salary ($67,500).

Reserve Roster, spots 25 – 28

  • roster slots 25-28 may be filled with players earning either (i) the Reserve Minimum Salary (US$54,500 in 2018) or (ii) Homegrown Players earning more than the Reserve Minimum Salary subject to the Homegrown Player Subsidy.
  • Reserve Minimum Salary Players must be 24 years or younger during the League Year (age of a player is determined by year, not their actual day of birth).
  • these slots may not be filled with Senior Minimum Salary Players or Generation Adidas Players.
  • these player spots must be paid a base salary equal to the Reserve Minimum Salary ($54,500).

Reserve Roster, spots 29 and 30

  • roster spots 29 and 30 must be Homegrown Players. They will also follow the same roster and budget rules as Homegrown Players occupying spots 25-28.

The pressing question now is how, when and where the club will fill these roster spots?  For simplicity purposes, the following breakdown and discussion centers around the Senior Roster spots.

Currently, Fanendo Adi, Fatai Alashe, and the just awarded 2018 USL MVP Emmanuel Ledesma are signed to MLS contracts. We have also seen credible media reports stating that FCC is bringing back inaugurals Corben Bone and Jimmy McLaughlin, as well as 2018 USL Defender of the Year Forrest Lasso. Let’s check-in with the Orange & Blue Press FCC Roster graphic that illustrates the current MLS roster moves (which we’ll be updating and sharing with each signing).

FCC Roster Mission-Control
Graphic: Connor Paquette

With six Senior Roster spots spoken for, where will the next 14 senior players come from?

Alan Koch joined Sirius XM FC’s the United States of Soccer host Jason Davis on Wednesday. He remarked that the club will be relatively aggressive in the off-season, but will also take a sound, fiscally responsible approach. They are looking to fill the remaining roster spots from the following mechanisms:

  • the current group of USL players
  • unprotected MLS players available in the upcoming Expansion Draft (see below)
  • open market transfers / free agency from “Planet Earth”
  • the college draft – MLS SuperDraft
  • trades

Alan Koch, Luke Sassano, and the scouting team are scouring the world looking for talent to add as possible free agents. Closer to home and upcoming over the next five weeks are several upcoming MLS draft events, including:

Expansion Draft – Tuesday, December 11th at 2 pm

FC Cincinnati will have an advantage as the lone expansion team entering the 2019 season. They will have the ability to pick up to 5 players from the eligible Expansion Draft player pool (players left unprotected by their current 2018 teams). FCC may only select one player from a given team.

Added to the mix this year is that the five teams that this season’s MLS newcomer LAFC selected 2018 Expansion Draft players from are exempt from the 2019 Expansion Draft – Columbus Crew SC, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC. The other 18 returning MLS clubs are able to protect 11 players between their Senior, Supplemental and Reserve Rosters. Their remaining players are eligible for selection by FCC in the Expansion Draft.

The Orange & Blue will not fully know which players will be available in this draft until a player Blackout Period begins on December 9th at 1 pm.

We will label these 5 Expansion Draft opportunities as Roster Slots 7 – 12. Two additional December drafts will allow FCC to add current MLS talent to help fill the remaining eight senior slots.

2018 MLS Waiver Draft  – Wednesday, December 12th at 4 pm

The Waiver Draft consists of players who have been waived by their clubs but don’t meet the minimum years of service requirement for the Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency – mostly young players who are relatively new to MLS.

Under contract players who are selected in the Waiver Draft will be automatically added to the drafting club’s roster. Clubs that claim out-of-contract players must issue a genuine offer to the selected player. FCC will get the final selection opportunity in the Waiver Draft but are not required to make a selection.

2018 Re-Entry Draft – Stage 1, Friday, December 14th at 3 pm; Stage 2, Thursday, December 20th at 2 pm

The Orange & Blue are able to select and sign up to two players, one during Stage 1 and one in Stage 2. There is no requirement to select a player in either stage, however. The player pool will consist of players that either have not had their options picked up or players that are out of contract with their current club. Additionally, these eligible players must be:

  • at least 23 years old and have a minimum of 3 years of MLS experience (available at their current club 2019 option salary).
  • at least 25 years old with a minimum of 4 years of MLS experience (available at a minimum of their current club 2018 salary).
  • or Free Agents that choose to participate.

As the expansion team, FCC will have the 24th and final selection spot during each stage of the 2018 Re-Entry Draft.

Contingent on the player pool availability and their December draft selections, FCC will need to fill any remaining 2019 Senior Roster spots with transfers or during the upcoming MLS SuperDraft on January 11th. However, the SuperDraft is routinely used to fill Supplemental and Reserve Rosters. The Primary Transfer Window opens in February, although agreements can be negotiated earlier and finalized during the window.

Possibly you’re now understanding the complexity that each and every roster move carries going forward. It’s not necessarily a straightforward decision on whether to bring back your favorite current player or not. Each player is being evaluated and compared against the talent available in the upcoming MLS drafts and the open market. We may not hear any additional substantial player announcements until after these forthcoming December player drafts.

Remain patient fans and stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press and our Transfer News as we update you on all of FC Cincinnati’s 2019 MLS player movements.

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