On Thursday morning, Major League Soccer officially unveiled the set of dates that will guide teams' offseason player transactions. Particularly for the Dynamo, these winter periods will be critical as new General Manager Matt Jordan and a soon-to-be-named Head Coach look to retool a roster in need of bouncing back. With that in mind, let's take a look at the timeline that will unfold over the next couple months.
Chivas USA will undergo a Dispersal Draft at a still-undetermined date prior to the Expansion Draft, likely in the first week of December. If you need a refresher, Dynamo Theory has selected a few targets that might be worth a look.
On Monday, December 8th, just hours after a MLS Cup champion is crowned, a half-day trade window will open up that provides teams an opportunity to make a quick roster change ahead of the Expansion Draft. Teams will have a four-hour window from 9:00AM to 1:00PM ET to employ their protection strategies.
Wednesday, December 10th will see a full day of transactions as NYCFC and OCSC will begin their selection process in the Expansion Draft. Immediately following, another trade window will open until 5:00PM the next day that allows for teams to reshuffle once again. Also on this day will be the MLS Waiver Draft where teams will be able to sign players that have been released from their club at their current salary. These are players that do not meet specific eligibility requirements for the Re-Entry Draft (which is a combination of age and MLS experience). If a player is not picked up in the Waiver Draft, they will be free to negotiate a contract with any club.
Players that do meet those specific requirements, however, and are released by their club enter into Phase One of the Re-Entry Draft on Friday, December 12th. Similar to the Waiver Draft, teams can outright pick up these players on their current salary. This usually leads to a quiet Phase One since there may be an opportunity to negotiate a lower salary later. Immediately after the first phase, another trade window will open up for teams to shuffle salary cap space. This window will close nearly a week later on Wednesday, December 17th at 11:00AM ET.
The next day, on December 18th, Phase Two of the Re-Entry Draft will open, allowing teams to negotiate a reduced contract with players still available after the first phase. Finally, the winter trade window will open after the draft concludes.
Into the new year, MLS will hold their second Caribbean Combine from January 2-5th. This provides a window of opportunity for Caribbean-based players to be scouted and showcase their talents for a contract.
The following week, the MLS will hold another Combine for primarily college and youth players from January 9-13th. This is often the last chance for college players entering the upcoming draft to prove their abilities. Most teams will send coaching staff and front office support to finalize their scouting.
Finally, on Thursday, January 15th, the SuperDraft will take place. This is like the traditional American college drafts seen in other sports like basketball and football. Armed with information scouted at the Combine, teams will select multiple rounds of draft picks to conclude their rosters ahead of training camp. Generally, these players get loaned to USL teams for development but the Dynamo have had to rely on them in the past, including AJ Cochran's duties at centerback this year.
With enough drafts to catch a cold, MLS fans might find it difficult to keep up this winter. The Dynamo, however, will need to be on their toes as these events unfold in what should prove as the first real test of new GM/VP Matt Jordan. If all goes well, as we embark from the SuperDraft, the Dynamo should have had more than enough opportunities to fill deficiencies from this season.