Major League Soccer announced its very busy offseason calendar today, as the LA Galaxy continue its search for a leader of its soccer operations and for a head coach for the 2019 season.

The schedule announced today would culminate in FC Cincinnati picking five players during a December 11 Expansion Draft. This is exactly the same mechanism that was used last year for the Los Angeles Football Club’s entry into the league and is technically still a part of that expansion process.

“Since 2014 each round of expansion has involved two incoming clubs selecting players from the eligible player list, therefore, for the purpose of the Expansion Draft, LAFC and FC Cincinnati are considered a single round of expansion,” the league said in press release. “While the two expansion clubs are selecting players in successive years, for competitive consistency, current MLS teams that had players selected by LAFC in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft will be exempt from the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, however, LAFC players will be eligible for selection by FC Cincinnati.”

That means that the Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC, San Jose Earthquakes, Columbus Crew, and Toronto FC will all be exempt from this year’s expansion draft. The Galaxy, on the other hand, will have to go through the process of protecting players and worrying about whether or not they’ll lose anyone to the expansion side. And like always, a set of Expansion Draft rules has already been released with a total of five rounds, and a maximum of one player selected from each eligible team. There will also be a limit on the number of international players that are made available and the usual exemption of Generation Adidas and Homegrown players.

Additionally, Cincinnati will be given additional allocation money to compensate for the smaller player pool avaialble to them.

As a side note: even though MLS is calling this a “single round of expansion,” LAFC – last year’s expansion team – will need to protect players ahead of the draft and can have players chosen by Cincinnati. This wouldn’t have happened if they were actually picking during the same year in the actual same round of expansion.

The Galaxy will also be on the clock for the rest of the offseason calendar as well with quickly approaching deadlines that will need them to start making roster decisions for 2019.

There’s the Option Exercise Deadline, the Half Day Trade Window, the Blackout Period, the start of Free Agency, the ever-popular MLS Waiver Draft, and two stages of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

Each one of these drafts and deadlines relates directly to what the 2019 roster will begin to look like and currently, the Galaxy are a rudderless ship ready to enter a hurricane of decisions. Without someone steering the ship in the proper direction, each of these steps could start to hurt the club in many different ways.

2018 MLS OFFSEASON ROSTER BUILDING EVENTS

DATETIMETITLEDESCRIPTION
Nov. 261 PM ETOption Exercise DeadlineClubs no longer competing in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers, announced by the teams.

All roster decisions will be publicized by the individual clubs.
Nov. 301 PM ETOption Exercise Deadline for Non-MLS Cup ParticipantsNon-MLS Cup participants must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers, announced by the clubs.

All roster decisions will be publicized by the individual clubs.
Dec. 99 AM to 1 PM ETHalf Day Trade WindowFollowing a three-month roster freeze, MLS clubs may begin making adjustments to their rosters. This is a four-hour window in which clubs may sign and trade players (both non-Re-Entry Draft eligible players and Re-Entry Draft eligible).

All roster decisions will be publicized by the individual clubs.
Dec. 912 PM ETOption Exercise Deadline for MLS Cup ParticipantsClubs that compete in MLS Cup must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers.

All roster decisions will be publicized by the individual clubs.
Dec. 91 PM ETBlackout Period beginsBlackout Period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign and/or trade their own draft-eligible players until conclusion of Expansion Draft.
Dec. 112 PM ET2018 MLS Expansion DraftWhile Generation adidas and off-budget Homegrown Players are automatically exempt, eligible MLS clubs may protect up to 11 players from selection in the Expansion Draft.

The list of players available for selection in the Expansion Draft will be released by MLS Communications on Dec. 10.

FC Cincinnati may select up to five players from the eligible MLS player pool. Only a single player can be drafted from any one club.
Dec. 113 PM ETFree Agency BeginsClubs may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency.

Eligible players include Out of Contract and Option Decline players that meet the age and years-of-service parameters.

MLS Communications will make the complete list of Free Agents available on Dec. 10.
Dec. 124 PM ET2018 MLS Waiver DraftConsisting of players who have been waived by clubs and do not meet minimum years of service requirement for Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency; the Waiver Draft is conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion FC Cincinnati selecting last.

The list of players eligible for selection in Waiver Draft will be released by MLS Communications by 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 11.
Dec. 143 PM ET2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft – Stage 1The Re-Entry Draft (both stages) is conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion club FC Cincinnati selecting last.

The list of players eligible for selection in the Re-Entry Draft – Stage 1 will be released by MLS Communications by 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 13.
Dec. 202 PM ET2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft – Stage 2Teams selecting players in Stage 2 may negotiate new contracts with the player.

The list of players eligible for selection in the Re-Entry Draft – Stage 1 will be released by MLS Communications at 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 19.
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