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MLS rosters cut back to 24?

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That's the rumour from Steven Goff:-


MLS's Board of Governors will meet for several hours Friday and league officials are anticipating decisions to be finalized in time for The Commish Don Garber's state of the league address late in the day. Roster size is apparently under discussion, so don't be surprised if the overall number per team is reduced but the number of senior players is increased. [uPDATE: The latest buzz is that teams would have 24 players on the roster, 20 of whom on senior contracts. Currently, 28 overall on the roster, 18 seniors.]

Wouldn't surprise me if they did this. 10 development roster spots always seemed a bit top heavy to me in terms of players with no real hope of ever making the first team, who didn't really help much in depth terms. The two extra senior roster spots would probably help to focus more resources in salary terms on the few that have a legitimate shot of making it.

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Given the schedule congestion with the US Open Cup, Superliga, Champions League & no breaks for International dates (of which there will be more of next year with more WCQ dates and the Gold Cup) they need larger rosters, not smaller. The larger senior roster is a step in the right direction but cutting back the dev. spots (which don't cost the league that much) wouldn't be. If they are going to go in that direction cutting the dev. spots by two rather than four seems like a safer move. Getting rid of the reserve league would also suck unless reserve teams could be fielded in something like the CSL (but then that would take away from the academy teams).

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Maybe they have noted what TFC have been able to do with a roster of 24 or 25 with callups from local semi-pro teams? Having been to a few reserve games I'm not 100% convinced on their value in player development terms. Some of the older senior roster players don't exactly bust a gut out there and 10 games over 6 months isn't exactly a heavy schedule. Pulling the plug on the marginal later round super draft and supplementary draft NCAA players and focusing more on academy teams for development at an earlier age might be a natural evolution.

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I'm mixed on this decision, if this is indeed the direction they take.

I would have liked to see the roster size stay at 28 (20 senior, 8 Dev). At worse, I would have liked 26 (20 senior and 6 Dev). 24 is too thin if you are not allowed a "farm team" like Impact have with TR Attak.

I fully support axing the Reserve League but only if MLS teams are allowed the flexibility to field a Developmental Team/Reserve Team in a local senior league (every team in MLS must have some type of lcoal competitive senior league where they can field a squad to get their DEV players some decent playing time). For TFC, this would be CSL. If Vancouver were to join, they could play their reserves in PCSL or VMSL, etc...

I don't know what this means for Canadian soccer. Maybe it will actually be helpful because TFC won't be able to simply fill its quota of Canadians with DEV roster players. With 2 extra senior roster spots, they might be able to attract some Canadians playing overseas who are not in the best situations with their present clubs.....replacing the turf with grass would definitely help too (but that's for another thread)

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quote:Originally posted by VPjr

I don't know what this means for Canadian soccer. Maybe it will actually be helpful because TFC won't be able to simply fill its quota of Canadians with DEV roster players.

For TFC's immediate future, they will start with 16 international spots next year. Therefore they will only need to have 1/3 of the roster Canadian. The only plus side is that with 20 senior spots that will force Mo to sign at least one more Canadian to the senior roster for next year than he bothered to do in 2008 (where they had three, Sutton, Brennan & Harmse). I think with Rosenlund they have a ready-made candidate to be given the fourth Canadian spot, but 16 int'l spots is still way too high. And the downside with only 4 dev spots is less opportunities for younger Canadians to be given a chance. For ex. if Nana wants to continue his studies & play at York next year and thus remains on a dev. roster spot, the other three would be taken up Gala, Gaudet & Melo, and suddenly no other younger Canucks need even be looked at for next season.

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I don't know what to think about this.

If you've got enough extra salary in there to make a better quality 12-20 it might be worth it. However, the rosters were pretty small to begin with. The teams in CCL, superliga, and going deep in the USO will be burnt.

The major problem here is basically that MLS is throwing in the towel on developing it's own talent. So you're going to have strange situations where guys not getting games are going to go to the usl or find somewhere else to develop. They might think the NCAA is a place to develop talent, but it's a joke compared to the training the rest of the world gives their kids.

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  • 2 weeks later...

interesting article from Ridge Mahoney

Reserve Division is gone. Now what? </u>

Putting the MLS Reserve Division out of its misery, unfortunately, is the merciful, and sensible, thing to do with the league also cutting down on roster spots for developmental players.

The result will be a leaner league, with fewer players just barely hanging on to hopes of playing a few first-team minutes per month. Instead of the split roster - 18 first-team regulars, 10 developmental slots - MLS teams in 2009 will be allowed to utilize 18, 19, or 20 first-team players, and as many as four developmental players. And there will be no reserve games.

Now, those four players who otherwise would have played a dozen - if that - reserve games spread over several months will face these scenarios, none of them ideal: scrap for a spot in the USL, take the PDL route (if they're eligible), head to a foreign land, or get a real job. If they stick with it, the pressure to find and earn and keep a spot in a competitive environment is far more likely to hone their abilities than the back end of the MLS bus.

For those fringe players not included on the 18-man squad next year, their MLS coaches will have more time to work with them and also to find opportunities for them to play on loan. If the backups can't push the regulars and the fringe players can't push the backups, there's not enough pressure on players to improve and fight and stay ahead of the next guy.

Without the resources to field full reserve teams in addition to the 18-man regular roster, throwing little used backups into "reserve" games served little purpose.

"Ideally, you'd have a bigger roster so you can separate out the players more in training and really have two teams," says Coach Sigi Schmid, who guided Columbus to the 2008 MLS title. "That's not going to happen in the short term. But just look at the players, like Jeff Larentowicz in New England who made it through there, or Adam Moffat, who played in the USL, then made it to our reserve team, and was playing very well for our first team when he got injured.

"Ideally, it would be great if we could have something of the European model, which is different than the English model, where your reserve team actually plays in like the third division. You could partner up with a team in your area, and basically your players and their players are one and the same and you can move players up and down. In Germany, they play two divisions below the top division."

Yet reserve leagues in Europe also vary wildly. When officials of Tottenham Hotspur came to California to announce a partnernship with San Jose, they and Quakes officials discussed many facets of team operations. "They have the same problem," says Quakes GM John Doyle. "We had Chelsea at the meetings and everybody approaches the reserve league differently.

"The 10 guys we brought in this year to be our developmentals, I spend 90 percent of my time dealing with their issues. All of us are trying to take care of their situations. Financially they can't make it."

Much ballyhooed when launched in 2005 season as another step in the league's evolution, instead the Reserve Division devolved into an embarrassment. Only a dozen games per team were scheduled, and some didn't manage that many, because of cancellations. Staff members, assistant coaches, and local players were drafted to fill out squads in some matches when teams were denuded by injuries, call-ups and suspensions.

The halfway, stop-gap method of allotting 10 developmental slots to supplement the regular 18-man roster, while better than nothing, never had a chance to generate a regular stream of first-team candidates and capable replacements. Examples can be cited - Nat Borchers, Larentowicz, etc. - of developmental players cracking not just the first team but a starting XI, yet they were few and far between, and with the league expanding its per-team allotment of international players to eight, the odds against developmental players increased.

The league, as usual, has been fuzzy about what portion of monies allotted to the reserve league - for travel, game expenses, salaries, etc. - will be plowed back into the salary cap. Adidas underwrote much of the reserve league's operations and also supplements the salaries of Generation adidas players, who do not count against the team's salary cap

Not every team took its reserve team as seriously as did Houston, which won the Reserve Division title under assistant coach John Spencer and consistently supplied head coach Dominic Kinnear with capable players. Stuart Holden and Corey Ashe, to name just two, advanced their careers in the Reserve Division.

"The reserve league has a good purpose, to give the younger players a place to play," says Kinnear. "Also, you give players who've been injured or suspended some time before they step back into the first team. But you have to look it another way, and that MLS is a job that depends on results, and maybe some people don't find it necessary or don't find the time or comfort to rely on young players to win right away."

For potential first-teamers needing extra games, reserve matches filled the need. But for most younger players and their teams, the Reserve Division fell woefully short.

Every year, I hear MLS general managers and a few coaches smugly claim the USL is tapped out. And every year, lower-division teams beat MLS teams head-to-head and/or a few USL products do quite well in MLS, with Moffat and Red Bulls' keeper Danny Cepero being just two examples from 2008. Puerto Rico and Montreal reached the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals and neither won the USL-1 title.

There are complexities - logistical, financial, and political - to loan deals with USL clubs. Yet next year, they will be an essential part of the player development puzzle.

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