2015 was a disappointing year for Houston Dynamo fans, but hope springs eternal, and there's always next year. But if the Dynamo want to compete in 2016 in a crowded Western Conference, they're going to have to make some moves to improve the club. With a rumored change in ownership and a head coach and general manager going into their first full offseason, the blueprint is unclear for exactly how Houston will rebuild the franchise, but here is a rundown of the opportunities they'll have to do so.
For the first time in its 20 year history, MLS will finally be introducing player free agency, or at least something resembling free agency. Free agency, as set up in the new collective bargaining agreement signed in May this year, will be available for players who have played at least 8 years in MLS and will be 28 years old or older. From the MLS Roster Rules and Regulations:
"Players 28 years of age and with eight years of MLS service who are out of contract, or have not had their option exercised, will have the ability to select their MLS club, subject to certain restrictions. More details on the Free Agency Process will be released upon the official ratification of the CBA."
Those "more details" and "certain restrictions never actually materialized, at least not publicly, so your guess is as good as mine what they are. However, what we do know is that the league will be releasing a full list of players who qualify on December 7th.
Free Agency Dates:
Monday, December 7: Major League Soccer will release list of all players eligible for free agency
Tuesday, December 8: At 1 p.m. ET, free agents may begin talks with other clubs
The MLS Re-entry draft is a process whereby teams can draft players whose clubs are declining to pick up their options. The types of players eligible for this draft are (from MLS Roster Rules):
1. Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2016).
2. Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2015 salary).
Re-Entry Draft Dates:
Monday, December 7: MLS releases list of all players eligible for the re-entry draft
Thursday, December 10: 5 p.m. ET deadline for clubs to sign or trade players on their roster who are eligible for the re-entry draft
Friday, December 11: Beginning at 3 p.m. ET, Stage 1 of the re-entry draft
Wednesday, December 16: 3 p.m. ET deadline for teams to sign or trade remaining re-entry eligible players
Thursday, December 17: Beginning at 3 p.m. ET, Stage 2 of the re-entry draft
During the MLS regular season, any team can waive a player and that player is placed on the waiver wire, and can be claimed by any team with worse teams getting first priority. In the offseason, players who are waived by their teams and also do not qualify for free agency or the re-entry draft are eligible to be selected in the waiver draft
Waiver Draft Dates:
Tuesday, December 8: MLS releases list of players who are eligible for the waiver draft
Wednesday, December 9: Waiver draft, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET
The 2016 MLS Superdraft will take place on January 14, 2016, in Baltimore Maryland, with the adidas Player Combine taking place from January 7-12, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Houston Dynamo hold the 6th overall pick in the 2016 draft (one saving grace from a bad season, right?), as well as the 26th pick in Round 2, and the 47th pick in Round 3. Houston has no 4th Round pick after the Dynamo traded it and Andrew Driver for Joe Willis and Samuel Inkoom.
January 6-12: 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Thursday, January 14: 2016 MLS Superdraft