VENTURA, California – On Wednesday, Major League Soccer will hold phase one of their first-ever Re-Entry Draft.
This new mechanism will function to give players the option of having their contracts picked up by another club. The first round will give teams the chance to sign eligible players to their contract-option salary, while the second round on Wednesday, December 15, will be used to acquire the right to negotiate with selected players.
"It gives players an opportunity to see if there are other teams that value them," explained Whitecaps FC director of professional teams Greg Anderson. "It’s new to everybody, so we’ll see how much movement there is.”
Tom Soehn can see the value of the Re-Entry Draft from multiple perspectives. He was an MLS player with Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) and Chicago Fire, and now works in the front office as Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations.
"This is the first real attempt at free agency for some of the experienced players, so it gives them a chance to have their contract picked up by another club," said Soehn. "It will be interesting to see the response that it gets from teams."
While most other teams in the league are looking at the possibility of signing eligible players for the first time, Whitecaps FC have already done a great deal of analysis.
"A lot of these guys were available in the Expansion Draft, but potentially overlooked due to their salaries," said Soehn. "It’s something that we will continue to look at and we’ll make sure that we evaluate everything."
The potential opportunity to acquire new players through the Re-Entry Draft is just the latest step in building the team, but Soehn and Anderson are happy to see the progression become clearer.
"It’s been an interesting process, and we’re only partway through,” said Anderson, who joined the team in Ventura on Sunday night. “But it’s nice to finally have some players officially on the roster now and it's good to see it start to take shape."