Major League Soccer announced its Expansion Draft for Austin FC will be on Tuesday, December 15. As Austin FC will be the sole team entering MLS in 2021, the 2020 Expansion Draft will only involve Austin FC, selecting five players to add to their roster. The list of eligible players will be released by MLS on December 14. Before then on December 13, there will be a four-hour window from 8am - noon CT in which all MLS teams will be allowed to make trades. Once that December 13 window closes, Austin FC will immediately turn attention to December 15 and the 2020 Expansion Draft.
"Our Soccer Ops team has been working hard on the build-out of our roster throughout 2020, and the Expansion Draft is a key opportunity to secure up to five players to add to our growing squad, said Austin FC Sporting Director, Claudio Reyna. “We're in a unique position in 2020, as Austin FC will be the only team taking part in the Draft this year, and I know our supporters and our whole Club are going to be excited to see who we secure on that date.”
According to the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft rules, Austin FC allowed to draft five players, picking one player from each of five different squads who did not have players selected in the 2019 Expansion Draft.
The remaining teams will be allowed to protect 12 players from their Senior, Supplemental, and Reserve rosters, with the rest going into the player pool. Generation adidas players who have not graduated at the end of the 2020 MLS Season and Homegrown Players 25 and under (born in or after 1995) on a club’s Roster at the end of the 2020 MLS Season are automatically protected.
Those 16 teams include: Chicago Fire FC, Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami CF, LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The Expansion Draft is a mechanism to help new MLS teams ramp up toward their inaugural seasons. Last year, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC—both qualifying for the playoffs in their debut seasons—participated in an Expansion Draft where they alternated picks.
Inter Miami acquired defenders Ben Sweat and Alvas Powell among its five players, while Nashville’s picks included forward Abu Danladi and defender Jalil Anibaba. Nashville also drafted defender Zarek Valentin, and then traded him to Houston for Joe Willis, now the team’s starting goalkeeper.
After December 15, Austin FC will also be able to participate in the Re-Entry Process, starting December 17, getting the 27th and final pick in two rounds of optional player selections from a pool of eligible players.
According to the MLS 2020 Expansion Draft press release, those players eligible for the Re-Entry Process “include those who are at least 22 years old, have a minimum of one service year, and their contract options were not exercised by their clubs or they did not receive a bona fide offer.”
Stage 1 players eligible for selection on December 17 will be announced on December 14, while Stage 2 players eligible for selection on the afternoon of December 22 will be announced earlier that day.
Having announced Rodney Redes and Cecilio Dominguez, Austin FC’s first Designated Player, in July and September respectively, December will see the Austin FC roster grow quickly. Mark your calendars for December 13, December 15, December 17 and December 22 and make sure you follow Austin FC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more details.