As with every year, the North-er North American soccer offseason has come too soon. But you don't watch MLS for the commercial breaks and cheerleader timeouts. No, you love this league because it's always going! The 2016 MLS preseason kicks off in about two months, and there's a LOT of business to get through before the Sounders strap on their studs in Surprise (or whatever Arizona retirement community they play in. I want to say Tucson.)
It all starts in earnest mere hours after MLS Cup, With three different player acquisition methods kicking in (Free Agency, Waiver Draft, Re-Entry Draft.) Then, just after the new year, adidas will host the MLS Player Combine to lead into the MLS Superdraft. Since MLS is taking a short break from adding new teams, there won't be an Expansion Draft this offseason.
Lists of the players who will be made available for the various drafts will not be known until specified dates. All the details are below.
OFFSEASON DATES (all times are PDT)
Thursday, November 12 (That's TODAY at 7 p.m.)
Seattle Sounders FC Alliance Annual Business Meeting - Paramount Theater
Sunday, December 6
MLS Cup Final - Either New Jersey or Columbus
Monday, December 7
Release of Free Agency and Re-Entry player lists made public.
Tuesday, December 8 (10 a.m.)
Free Agents are free to negotiate with new teams. The Waiver list is made public today too.
Wednesday, December 9 (1:30 p.m.)
It's Waiver Draft day, where players who have been waved by their old club can be picked up by another MLS side.
Thursday, December 10 (2 p.m.)
Teams need to sign their own Re-Entry players by this time or risk losing them forever.
Friday, December 11 (8 a.m.)
This is the start of the Re-Entry Draft, with Stage One today and Stage Two the following Thursday.
Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13
Sounders FC 2 will hold open tryouts at the University of Nevada. At least one player will get a trial with the team.
Wednesday, December 16 (8 a.m.)
If a team's Re-Entry players made it through the first round of the Re-Entry draft, this is their next chance to sign and keep those players.
Thursday, December 17 (12 p.m.)
Here's Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft.
2016 adidas MLS Player Combine
Thursday, January 14
2016 MLS SuperDraft. The Sounders currently possess the 15th pick of the first round, as well as the 29th, 36th, 54th and 56th overall picks.
Friday, January 22
The Beginning of the MLS Preseason (Sounders may start earlier in order to prepare for the upcoming matches with Club America in CONCACAF Champions League play.)
Tuesday, February 23 - Thursday February 25
The first leg of Seattle's home-and-home series with Club America will take place sometime in this three day stretch. Sounders are the home team for this leg.
Tuesday, March 1 - Thursday, March 3
The second leg of the Champions League series will be on one of these three days. They will visit Mexico City at this time.
Major League Soccer was nice enough to pass along a handy dandy guide for each of the offseason functions, which you can peruse below.
Players 28 years of age and older with eight years of MLS service who are out of contract, or have not had their option exercised, are eligible for Free Agency in 2015, allowing them the freedom to negotiate a new contract with any MLS club, including their previous club, subject to certain restrictions. A player has fulfilled a year of service if they were on a club's roster prior to August 15 or played in at least one regular season or postseason game in the relevant year.
The list of eligible Free Agents will be released on Monday, Dec. 7. Starting at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 8, Free Agents may engage in negotiations with MLS clubs outside of their previous club.
The Waiver Draft will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The Waiver Draft will consist of players who have been waived by their clubs and are not eligible for Re-Entry or Free Agency. 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 in the Waiver Draft must issue a genuine offer to the selected player.
The Waiver Draft Order is determined by the reverse order of the final standings in the MLS season, taking into account postseason performance. The list of eligible players for the 2015 Waiver Draft will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will be held on Friday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. ET. Players who are available in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft are:
1. Players who are at least 23-years-old and have a minimum of three MLS service years whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2016).
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 wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2015 salary).
3. Free Agents that choose to participate
The list of eligible players for the 2015 Re-Entry Draft will be announced on Monday, Dec. 7. Players that are not selected in Stage One will be made available in Stage Two on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. ET.
The Re-Entry Draft Order is determined by the reverse order of the final standings in the MLS season, taking into account postseason performance.
2016 adidas MLS Player Combine & MLS SuperDraft
The 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine will be held from January 7-12, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Further details on the Combine, including invitees, game times and locations will be announced at a later date.
Following the Combine, the 2016 MLS SuperDraft will held on Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.