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Why MLS adding two homegrown spots to rosters could mean success for RSL

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Two more spots means roster size moves up to 30, and it’s indicative of larger goals for MLS.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t catch the news last night, Major League Soccer is increasing roster size in 2017, and they’re doing it by adding two homegrown player spots, Craig Waibel told Real Salt Lake fans yesterday in a town hall meeting.

That’s significant because it’s the first time for MLS rosters that they’ve added a position specifically for homegrown players — and for teams like Real Salt Lake, that could spell a potential windfall.

Already, it’s likely enabled the team to sign one player, Jose Hernandez, an attacking midfielder who came through the Real Salt Lake academy in Arizona and played two years at UCLA, where he found real success.

Real Salt Lake has a strong contingent of homegrown players already, and this sort of move enables the team to continue with that strategy to its fullest extent.

Enabling teams to continue to build their rosters around homegrown players — something that’s already impacted significantly by salary cap rules that give considerable flexibility with roster designations and homegrown player salaries.

Homegrown players on supplemental and reserve rosters, after all, can earn $125,000 more than their respective designations — and those players already don’t count against the salary cap. That already provides a good deal of flexibility, and this move affords even more. It’s a statement from MLS that this is the future, and it has to be. As more teams join the league — and there will be plenty — there will be a deficit of players. The only way to really solve for that is to introduce more players into the playing pool, or to allow for more international players joining the league.

Sure, you could increase the number of internationals allowed for each team, but you end up further away from a truly sustainable system. When you’re not producing players, you end up further away from success on the international stage, and you only find yourself stuck in a very difficult game to play. As MLS improves and the quality of players coming in improves — and we’re already seeing this — offers from teams that are willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money will end up blocking moves.

We saw that last offseason with the attempted signing of Oswaldo Henriquez, who went to Brazil for a significantly higher salary. We’ve likely seen that with Atlanta United target Oscar Romero, who could sign in China for ridiculous amounts of money. The continued infusion of money into world soccer means Major League Soccer must develop ways to avoid getting caught in the inflation. There is no better way to do that than to continue building up the player pool.

Real Salt Lake’s homegrown contingent

  • Danilo Acosta
  • Jordan Allen
  • Justen Glad
  • Jose Hernandez
  • Lalo Fernandez
  • Sebastian Saucedo
  • Ricardo Velazco