The interesting math of international slots
June 10, 2021

MLS allows eight international players per roster. Metro is allowed ten in 2021, thanks to two trades. Alex Muyl was sent to Nashville last year for a slot that expires at the end of 2021, and all the way back in 2009 Metro made a trade with Houston to acquire one of its slots, apparently forever.

So, ten, fine and good. But let's count the international players on Metro's roster (ignoring those with green cards, obviously):

  1. Wilkeman Carmona
  2. Carlos Coronel
  3. Cristian Casseres
  4. Youba Diarra
  5. Tom Edwards
  6. Mandela Egbo
  7. Fabio
  8. David Jensen
  9. Patryk Klimala
  10. Jason Pendant
  11. Andres Reyes
  12. Daniel Royer
  13. Dru Yearwood

A few caveats: it was reported last year that Casseres acquired a green card, but he is still counted as an international on MLS's roster page. (Which tends to be notoriously incorrect, so there is that.) There is also the case of Mathias Jorgensen, who is back from loan... sort of. In either case, we have a MINIMUM of eleven out of ten slots filled. What gives?

Well, RBNY is able to use the USL loophole by stashing players in the minors. Egbo, for instance, seems to be stuck there forever, and players get sent down all the time, so all seems good. And yet, there is still an underlining problem here.

International slots are used as tenure in MLS, and the price keeps going up. Two 2021 slots has been sold recently for 225K in allocation money, an astonishingly large amount. (Two others have gone for 200K.) Now look at the players that are rotting in Metro's slots: Jensen, third string goalkeeper who is not even with the team. Carmona, who needs at least a year with RBNY II. Diarra, permanently injured. Egbo, third string right back. Pendant, backup left back at best. Why are these slots being wasted?

It's not a big deal, some might say, but those miss the concept of opportunity cost. Every slot wasted is one not sold. Think of this scenario: RBNY can sell its wasted slots for 200K each, netting a nice chunk of allocation money. Other teams seem to take advantage, so why not Metro?

Paging "MLS rule expert" Denis Hamlett!

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