MLS expands roster sizes

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 11:57 PM ET

New York, NY - Major League Soccer announced Thursday it has added two additional roster slots per club for home grown players identified and developed by the team.

MLS made the adjustment as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the quality of play. This roster expansion creates additional opportunities for top young players in the United States and Canada to gain MLS experience.

In conjunction with the league's partnership with adidas and its commitment to player development, clubs may also sign home grown players from their youth development programs to Generation adidas deals without having to go through the SuperDraft.

MLS launched its youth initiative prior to the 2007 season, requiring each team to establish a program separate from the first team with at least two youth teams and a full-time coaching staff.

"Our clubs have made a significant investment in their youth academies and many of those players are ready to take the next step in their development by becoming professionals. We have increased the roster size to ensure that our teams have the ability to sign those players," said Todd Durbin, MLS EVP of Player Relations and Competition. "This change illustrates our continued long- term commitment to player development."

Players registered for at least 12 months in an MLS youth program become eligible to sign a professional contract with that team without entering the MLS SuperDraft. These are known as home grown players, and teams may sign up to four such players per year. Since the inception of the initiative in 2007, 10 players have been added to MLS club rosters with this mechanism.


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