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MLS' new U-22 Rules

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According to multiple sources, the initiative — which “Allocation Disorder” listeners might know a bit better as the “Young Money” mechanism — will be in place for the 2021 season. Teams have already begun making signings who will be tagged as U-22 players, with incoming Fire signing Jhon Jader Duran looking like a likely candidate for the designation when he arrives in Chicago. A source recently told The Athletic that new Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa will also fit in as a “Young Money” player. 

Elements of the U-22 initiative were first publicly revealed last February, but the finer details aren’t completely finalized and could change prior to an official announcement. However, multiple club and league sources have provided details of the expected framework, which, at its most basic level, should help MLS become more of a player in the global transfer market.

There are no limits on acquisition costs (transfer or loan fees) for U-22 signings, but in most cases their salaries will be capped at the maximum salary budget charge, which is set at $612,500 in 2021. But regardless of what their actual pay is, players under the designation will hit the salary budget at $150,000 or $200,000, depending on their age (it’s likely that older players will earn more). Players must be younger than 23 at the end of their first season in the league to qualify. Once signed, a player can maintain his status as U-22 signing until the season in which he turns 25. 

Multiple sources said that the current expectation is that teams will be allowed to sign either one or up to three players under the U-22 initiative, depending on the number and age of their current DPs. Teams that have three DPs who are all over the age of 23 and ineligible to be bought off DP status with TAM will only be allowed to sign one player under the U-22 initiative. Teams with at least one DP who is 23 or younger or one of any age who can be bought down with TAM will be able to sign up to three players under the U-22 initiative. Essentially, clubs that are all-in on bringing in high-priced, older DPs won’t be able to take as much advantage of the U-22 initiative as clubs that have already sprinkled at least one younger or cheaper DP into the mix. 

Sources expect that current MLS players will be allowed to be grandfathered into the designation as long as they meet the qualifications for eligibility.

Two major takeaways from this. 'Unlimited spending' on transfer fees for under 22 players and holding this status until they are 25.

MLS has been and now is enabling further, their position to being another avenue for Central and South American talent. 

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3 hours ago, ScoRoss said:
MLS has been and now is enabling further, their position to being another avenue for Central and South American talent. 

Yes, very much so. That retirement league quota is gone now. Some clubs still live by it, but I think they are accepting becoming a feeder league for Europe/

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