With Orlando City SC and New York City FC joining the league, plus Chivas USA riding off into the sunset, the MLS offseason might feel even more busy than the season itself. That always seems to be the case with Toronto FC anyways, never out of the news for any extended period of time. Thankfully, however, there is some structure to all of this madness. Major League Soccer recently released their offseason calendar for 2014-15, so here are the key dates and their significance to TFC.
TBD- MLS Dispersal Draft for Chivas USA
The league still hasn't set a time for this draft to take place, but it likely isn't too significant for Toronto FC. It is improbable that they will select anyone in this draft. The only player that anyone was really excited about, Erick "Cubo" Torres, probably won't be included in the proceedings. It seems far more likely that MLS will send him somewhere in the same backroom loophole that led to Jermaine Jones on New England Revolution, and Michael Bradley on TFC. That's if the league can retain him. If Toronto could once again take advantage of this loophole and land Torres, it certainly wouldn't be the worst thing ever.
December 7- MLS Cup 2014
Apparently there is something called the "playoffs" that are going on right now. From what I've read it seems like some sort of scheme to give all of the other teams in MLS a chance to capture the same glory Toronto FC did when they won the Trillium Cup. At any rate, this is set to conclude December 7th. Of the two teams that reach the final game, the one who was better in the regular season will host the game.
December 8- Trading Window from 9 am - 1pm Eastern
Teams may trade players during this short window of time. They may also resign players. It is unclear who exactly is out of contract for Toronto FC. Mark Bloom is the only one who is confirmed at this point, so he will probably officially be extended on that day. After 1pm, trades cannot happen until the MLS Expansion Draft.
December 10- MLS Expansion Draft, Waiver Draft and Trade Window
For many, this is the biggest and most intriguing day of the offseason. Toronto FC, and every other team in the league, will have to choose which players they protect, and don't protect, as New York City FC and Orlando City SC select from those who have not been protected in the MLS Expansion Draft. If it hasn't been before, the mentality of how Toronto FC intends to tweak their roster this offseason may well be revealed on this day. Traditionally, the club is allowed to protect 11 players. Start trying to figure out which 11 you would protect today, it's a difficult exercise with a lot of factors.
This is also fairly late for an MLS Waiver Draft, but with everything else doing on it kind of makes sense. It is done by conference call, and allows teams to draft players who are currently out of contract, or are ineligible for the Re-Entry Draft. Confused? We will get to that later. It goes in reverse order of the MLS standings, so Montreal Impact will have the first selection. It is rare that anyone is selected in this draft, but with the league having more and more depth each year, that might change.
After the Expansion Draft, the trade window will open until 5pm ET on December 11.
December 12- Re-Entry Draft Phase One and Trade Window
The Re-Entry Draft is similar to the Waiver Draft in the fact that it involves out of contract players, or those who have had their options declined. But to be eligible for the Re-Entry draft instead of the waiver draft, there are some distinct criteria. Eligibility for the draft is granted to out of contract players who are at minimum 23, and have played three or more years MLS, at least 25 and have played four or more years and 30 who have played eight or more years. Players 30 or older have to be given at least 105% of their 2014 salary. Essentially, there are better players in this draft than the Waiver Draft. For example, Chris Rolfe, Bobby Boswell, Sean Franklin, Chad Barrett, Fabian Espindola, David Horst and Mauro Rosales were all selected in last year's draft. Toronto FC picked up Dwayne De Rosario, although not until phase two. A team cannot pick its own player until the draft is over.
The draft is conducted in the same way as the Waiver draft: reverse order of the MLS standings. In the past, expansion teams like Orlando and New York have picked in the last two spots of the draft. Toronto FC will be picking 6th in both the Re-Entry Draft and the Waiver Draft. This draft is the closest thing MLS currently has to free agency, a topic that will certainly be discussed in CBA negotiations throughout the offseason. When teams select a player they can either resign them, or exercise a previously declined option in the player's contract.
This day will also see the trade window re-open until December 17 at 11 am.
This may or may not be an official date on the MLS offseason calendar. But writing all the information above made me hungry so I went to get a snack. I suggest you do the same before continuing with this post.
December 18- MLS Re-Entry Draft Phase Two and Trading Window
After clubs have had a couple of days to resign their players and trade others, the MLS Re-Entry Draft opens for Phase 2. This is somewhat the same as the first phase, with those who are still available being re-entered into the draft. Clubs who select players in Phase 2 of the draft have more control, however, as if they cannot come to an agreement the club will hold the right of first refusal for that player within MLS. All players who are not selected after the two phases, they become available to all clubs.
After this draft has been completed, the trade window opens once again.
January 9-13- MLS Draft Combine
Where MLS teams will get to see how the most promising NCAA prospects fare when they are being compared in direct competition with each other. Often the time when teams officially decide which player that will be selecting in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft.
January 15- MLS SuperDraft
The final draft of draft season, where clubs pick the best NCAA players. Last season, this was where Toronto FC acquired Nick Hagglund and Daniel Lovitz, so there is hope they will be able to fair similarly this time around. Orlando will have the first pick in the draft, followed by New York. Canadian Cyle Larin is the consensus first overall pick, bringing speculation that Toronto FC might trade up to select him.
Which of the aforementioned MLS offseason events are you most excited for the team to take part in? Let us know in the comments section below. If you picked Snack Break, then your answer is correct.