MLS Allocation Explained

With the transfer window re-opening in MLS on July 4, we decided to take a look at one of the more completed roster rules in the league, allocation.

Players are placed on the allocation list if they fit in to one of the following categories:

• Select United States Men’s National Team players

• Select elite United States Youth National Team players

• Players transferred out of MLS garnering a transfer fee of at least $500,00 (USD)

What we don’t know is what makes a player a "select" USMNT player. For instance, John Brooks does not appear on this list, why? The same goes for rumored MLS transfer target Ventura Alvarado. Another question is what constitutes an "elite" USYNT player? Christian Pulisic seems like an elite youth team player, he is not on this list either. Some things we just will never know about MLS rules.

What we do know, the league personnel department and club technical staffs determine the list and update it once per year, between the end of MLS regular season and MLS Cup. The list will only be updated in season if an "elite" USYNT player turns 18 or graduates from the US Soccer residency program in Bradenton and is deemed eligible for the list. Any transfers exceeding the $500,000 fee will also cause the list to be updated.

Here is the current list of players available through allocation.  


Each team occupies a position on the Allocation Ranking Order. This order is reset each season and is determined by reverse order of finish in the previous season, with the playoffs taken in to account. When a club acquires a player via allocation, they then go to the bottom of the list. Teams can trade their order but must acquire the other team’s spot in the order if they make a trade (all teams must be on the list).

Here is the current list (Colorado is last because they have recently acquired Tim Howard):

1. Chicago Fire

2. Philadelphia Union

3. New York City FC

4. Real Salt Lake

5. Houston Dynamo

6. Orlando City SC

7. San Jose Earthquakes

8. Toronto FC

9. New England Revolution

10. Sporting Kansas City

11. LA Galaxy

12. DC United

13. Montreal Impact

14. Seattle Sounders

15. Vancouver Whitecaps

16. FC Dallas

17. New York Red Bulls

18. Columbus Crew SC

19. Portland Timbers

20. Colorado Rapids