Expansion Without Expansion Drafts

Beckham's future is as a suit - Lintao Zhang

David Beckham retires and thoughts of a Miami team immediately come to mind. That would make three cities in a very short time that could be "ready now" for MLS. The additional roster churn would scar many quality teams.

When David Beckham retires from playing the game of soccer it is a global story. There are a handful of players that get comments from Sepp Blatter and the MLS (EPL, La Liga, Ligue 1) star is one of those. But it has meanings off the pitch for the American game. Beckham gets to own a team in MLS. It can not be in New York and if in LA has to be with the Galaxy (at least that was true the last time someone spoke on this). It seems quite likely that Miami is Beckham's eventual MLS destination.

And that would make three cities that are very close to being ready. NY2 is about as certain as can be. Orlando is just some stadium funding away. Miami with Beckham behind it probably unlocks some global firm (there was big money in the past linked to the area, but the Recession dried that up). Three teams in a short period of time leads to a lot of roster churn. Sounders fans remember the pain of losing four players in just three years to Expansion Drafts.

Those should no longer be necessary. It is time to step away from Expansion Drafts and instead institute a system that requires future teams to have an Academy set up two years prior to joining the league, at a minimum. They should start their Reserve team or USL Pro affiliation at least one year prior to their MLS launch. From this they may only get the back end of the roster in year one, but the long term prospects for the organization would increase.

Since the Re-Entry Drafts and Waiver Drafts are already full of bloated contracts they provide the new teams with the same opportunities as an Expansion Draft would. Give the new clubs picks at the top and in middle of the SuperDraft (nestled between the Playoff and non-Playoff teams) and a situation arises where the expansion teams have a shot at putting together decent talent without forcing successful clubs to lose players.

Overall this would raise the importance of Academy play as successful players from three organizations would have competitive minutes available right off the bat; it would raise the profile of the USL Pro-MLS "minor league" partnership and with the cap room available would allow the new teams to fill their roster from current mechanisms as well as the global market bringing in more talent to the growing league.

Let's lose the Expansion Drafts and instead use expansion to build for the future.

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