Expansion Draft

FCC Draft Guide: 2019

Beginning next Tuesday, there are three MLS drafts that can potentially help shape and shift FC Cincinnati’s roster entering 2020.

First up is the 2019 Expansion Draft, which occurs next week. Second is the MLS Re-Entry Draft, which begins Nov. 26. The 2020 MLS SuperDraft transpires in January.

Each of these three draft mechanisms have intricacies, so consider this a guide to each – and more importantly – a look at how FC Cincinnati are impacted.

2019 MLS Expansion Draft

When: Nov. 19, 5:30 p.m.

What is it:

Each time a new MLS franchise enters the league, there’s an Expansion Draft that allows the new club to draft up to five players from teams around league. These players are added instantly to their roster.

This should sound familiar after FCC were the club selecting players last year. Then, Cincinnati selected Darren Mattocks, Kei Kamara, Roland Lamah, Eric Alexander and Hassan Ndam. (Kamara was immediately traded to the Colorado Rapids for an international spot.)

In 2019, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC can both select five players from current MLS rosters. That means the Orange and Blue could potentially have one player drafted by Nashville or Miami.

How the draft works:

Current MLS clubs can protect up to 12 players from their 2019 rosters, and then some additional players are automatically protected – including Homegrown Players under the age of 25 and current Generation adidas players. These players can’t be picked in the draft by other teams. So any player not protected by the club, or automatically protected, are available for selection.

This season, 19 clubs are at risk of losing a player to either Miami or Nashville, including Cincinnati. Five teams – D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls – are all exempt because FCC drafted one of their players last season. Note: A team can only lose one player in the Expansion Draft.

If a Cincinnati player is selected by Miami or Nashville, FCC will be exempt from the 2020 Expansion Draft when Austin FC participate. (Cincinnati will also receive $50,000 in allocation money if they lose a player to Miami or Nashville.)

This coming Saturday morning, MLS will release the list of available players in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft. From there, Nashville and Miami can decide which players are part of their respective futures.

2019 MLS Re-Entry Draft


Stage 1: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 3 p.m.

Stage 2: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 3 p.m.

What is it:

At the end of every season, there are always players out of contract or who did not have their options picked up by their former clubs. If these players want to stay in MLS but are un-rostered for the following season, they can opt into the Re-Entry Draft.

Essentially, the Re-Entry Draft allows every team the opportunity to add experienced players, but there are some salary considerations – and that especially matters between Stage One and Stage Two.

According to MLS, here are the players eligible for Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft:

  • Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose contract options were not exercised by their clubs. They will be available at their option salary for 2019.
  • 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. They are available for at least their 2019 salary.
  • Free Agents who choose to participate.

How it works:

There are two stages to the draft. The draft order is determined by 2019 results, so FC Cincinnati had the first pick before trading it to Inter Miami CF. Cincinnati now has the 26th pick in Stage 1.  

During Stage 1, teams can choose one eligible player. If selected, this player can be added to the team’s roster. However, if the player decides to play outside of MLS, then the team still holds the Right of First Refusal for that MLS player. Teams can also – and frequently do – pass when they’re on the clock. Only eight players have been taken in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft over the last three years, and since its inception in 2010, only 23 players have been chosen in Stage 1.

The second stage is slightly different. Here’s how it works (per MLS):

  • All players who are not selected in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft will be made available again in Stage 2 if they opt to remain in the Re-Entry process.
  • If a player is selected, the drafting club will be required to make a “genuine offer” to the player within seven days.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached between the club and the player, the drafting club will hold the Right of First Refusal for that player in MLS.
  • Clubs may not select their own draft-eligible players in Stage 2 until all other Clubs have declined selecting such players. 

Essentially, the Orange and Blue can use this draft to add an experienced MLS veteran to their 2019 roster. Or, they can choose not to – like in 2019.

Photo taken by Mike DiNovo | USA Today.

2020 MLS SuperDraft

When: January 2020

What is it:

Every MLS team can pick college seniors or undergraduate players who signed Generation adidas contracts with MLS. A Generation adidas contract means the player is leaving school early – like Frankie Amaya did after one season at UCLA.

In past years, the SuperDraft has lasted four rounds and each team has at least one natural selection in each round, but in reality each club can end up with more or less depending on other transactions involving draft picks.

Last season, FC Cincinnati drafted six players:

Frankie Amaya (No. 1)

Logan Gdula (No. 13)

Tommy McCabe (No. 29)

Jimmy Hague (No. 30)

Ben Lundt (No. 37)

Rashawn Dally (No. 49)

Outside of Amaya who was signed before the SuperDraft, FC Cincinnati signed its other five draft selections. Except for Lundt – who spent the season on loan with Louisville City FC (USL Championship) and was their starting goalkeeper before what turned out to be a season-ending ankle injury and resulting surgery – all other players spent time with FC Cincinnati. McCabe and Dally also saw extended time with the club – including a handful of starts – while Hague was the club’s backup goalkeeper for much of the season because of injuries. Gdula spent parts of the season on loan to Phoenix Rising FC and later with Harford Athletic, both in the USL Championship.

As of Nov. 12, FC Cincinnati have the following sections in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.

No. 3 (first round)

No. 29 (second round)

No. 53 (third round, from Inter Miami FC)

No. 81 (fourth round)