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RSL's roster, explained: Breaking down roster spots and designations

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We're all here trying to make sense of MLS roster rules and regulations. Here's our best effort to break it down.

Matt Montgomery

With the CBA document being released last week, and with Real Salt Lake's roster being in some sort of flux, it would be interesting to take what we've learned over the last week and apply it to real life in some sort of way.

First, some definitions are in order. A roster is composed of up to 28 players, and there are three distinct separations between the roster. First, we have spots 1-20, or the 'senior roster'. Second, we have spots 21-28, which is divided two ways as the 'reserve roster', and no player there counts against the budget. There, we have 21-24, which is made of players who make at least the senior minimum salary ($62,500 in 2016). Finally, we have spots 25-28, which is made of players who make at least the reserve minimum salary ($51,500 in 2016).

Additional, there are further rules regarding these reserve minimum salary, which we will quote in full below. The emphasis is ours.

Reserve: Only Reserve Players who are 24 years old (meaning that they turn 24 during the calendar year) or younger who are designated as such by MLS and who must be the 25th or higher man on the Team’s roster may be paid at the Reserve Minimum Salary set forth in Section 10.2.

So there you have it — those are the rules we've set out to use. However, there remains some ambiguity regarding the senior player on the reserve roster, so it's time to make some assumptions here. Historically, this sort of designation (previously 'supplemental roster') consisted of genuine reserves — that is, players who aren't projected to play most matches for which they're available. So let's continue with that assumption, knowing that while MLS does have plenty of loopholes for general managers to dig into, this doesn't seem to be one.

We'll break this list down to players, providing context where necessary. That will mostly be the case with our reserve players.

Senior roster, 1–20

  1. Nick Rimando
  2. Jeff Attinella
  3. Jamison Olave
  4. Aaron Maund
  5. Tony Beltran
  6. Demar Phillips
  7. Chris Wingert
  8. Abdoulie Mansally
  9. Kyle Beckerman
  10. Luke Mulholland
  11. Stephen "Sunny" Sunday Obayan
  12. John Stertzer
  13. Javier Morales
  14. Jordan Allen
  15. Yura Movsisyan
  16. Burrito Martinez
  17. Joao Plata
  18. Olmes Garcia
  19. Devon Sandoval

Reserve roster, 21–24

  1. Lalo Fernandez — under contract for more than two years
  2. Omar Holness — makes more than minimum, and Generation Adidas players must go in off-budget reserve roster
  3. Emery Welshman — too old to make reserve roster. As an added note, he could be switched for Jordan Allen in the senior roster if the team is still using homegrown player funds to keep him off-budget. That may well be the case.
  4. Justen Glad — in his third contract year

Reserve roster, 25–28

  1. Phanuel Kavita — homegrown
  2. Danilo Acosta — homegrown
  3. Fito Ovalle — homegrown
  4. Boyd Okwuonu

So there we have it — this is what I imagine Craig Waibel's looking at right now. Of course, there's no real verification of that, what with the tight-lipped ways of MLS, and there's no way to easily look it up. And as a final note on that, there's no need to set the roster in stone before the March 1 deadline, so this is obviously subject to change.

This also leaves one space open in the senior roster, and that's presumably for a center back that the team is looking to sign. There's no word yet on how that's proceeding, but it's something to be aware of.