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MLS Rule Changes and Sporting KC Roster Updates

MLS helping time wasting but missing a chance to boost spending. Plus, Sporting KC have some flexibility to build for 2024.



Credit: Thad Bell

When we at the KC Soccer Journal were The Blue Testament, we would often write stories called Blue Links or Blue Notes that rounded up stories you may have missed. Welcome back to Journal Entries (title pending). Let’s get to the news!

New MLS Rules for 2024

Major League Soccer announced numerous rule changes for 2024. There unfortunately is almost nothing in regard to spending on the list. No fourth Designated Player. Not even removing the restrictions on the third DP. It feels like a missed opportunity to improve the talent on the field by increasing spending. The Athletic did a great piece on the project strategy committee, which includes SKC owner Mike Illig.

However, there are some changes that are going to hopefully speed up play and take a lot of the time wasting out of the game. First, MLS are adopting a version of the MLS Next Pro rule around on the field treatment. If a player is down for 15 seconds, they must leave the field for two minutes unless they are subbed off, suffer a head injury, a yellow or red card foul, a serious medical event or it’s a goalkeeper injury. In MLSNP it’s three minutes.

Second, they also only allow a player being subbed out of the game 10 seconds to leave the field or risk delaying their replacement having to wait one minute to enter the match. Both of these rules punish time wasting, which is long overdue. Sadly, nothing on goalkeepers taking forever to play the ball or to stop players from flopping.

The league is also trying to improve the stadium experience. Stoppage time will finally be shown on in stadium clocks, so I can put my stopwatch app on my phone away. Additionally, if approved by IFAB, referees will announce VAR decisions to the stadium like we had in the Women’s World Cup.

Another injury related change is the “return to play equity” rule. If two players on opposing teams have concurrent head injuries requiring off the field treatment, they both cannot return until the other is cleared.

There are some rules mildly related to roster mechanisms. The main one is moving the green card deadline back to the opening of the secondary transfer window instead of the start of the season. It’s a good way to continue to clear international roster space to make moves in the summer.

One of the last changes is related to the ridiculous Discovery list, which will lower the limit of players that be “discovered” from seven to five. Inter Miami “discovered” Messi. Then there is a complicated rule tied to earning allocation money from the sale of Designated Players that are DP in name only and really Targeted Allocation Money signings. For Sporting KC that’d be someone like Erik Thommy getting sold leading to the collection of General Allocation Money (GAM).

Gadi Kinda “extremely unlikely to return”

More quality reporting is coming out of The Athletic than we can keep up with. In case you missed it last week, Tom Bogert and Paul Tenorio are reporting that Gadi Kinda is “extremely unlikely to return” to Sporting Kansas City (Sperry confirmed their reporting).

“Talks are currently inactive, as [Kinda’s] expected to return to Europe to be closer to family. Kinda is out of contract after four seasons with the club.”

It’s a big blow the Sporting KC attack, but with the complicated budgetary constraints SKC are under, he probably would have had to be a Designated Player to return because of the tight spending situation.

That should mean Kansas City have the ability to make a bit splash and bring in a DP but it’s bittersweet to lose Kinda. We wish him nothing but the best.

A Look at Sporting KC’s Spending Flexibility this Offseason

Sporting KC Retaining Roster Flexibility

The recent announcements of the signings of Zorhan Bassong and Alenis Vargas have little tidbits that might have flown under the radar. According to the KC Star’s Daniel Sperry, both players are on the supplemental roster.

If you missed Drew VanderPloeg’s fantastic roster flexibility piece, you might not fully know what that means. But in the simplest terms, the bottom 10 players on the roster don’t count against the salary budget and both Bassong and Vargas won’t count. That means the last four open spots on the Sporting KC aren’t as restrictive. That said, there isn’t a ton of money left to spend outside of the aforementioned DP spot which is unconstrained.

MLS Out of the US Open Cup

In a sneaky Friday announcement, MLS announced their teams won’t play in the 2024 US Open Cup. It’s been widely condemned by basically everyone even loosely connected to soccer in the United States. I’m disappointed. I won’t rehash all my thoughts, but you can check out my longer take on this week’s For the Glory KC podcast episode.

KC Current Preseason and Schedule

While we don’t have concrete dates, inside the Izzy Rodriguez contract signing release was a little preseason and NWSL schedule information.

“Rodriguez and her Kansas City Current teammates will open preseason camp as early as Jan. 22 with the 2024 NWSL regular season to kick off the weekend of March 16.”

The “as early as” likely means preseason doesn’t necessarily start that day, but it could start that soon. The NWSL released a schedule footprint that states teams must start no later than January 29th. As for the beginning of the regular season, in 2023 the season started on March 25th, so this will be a slightly earlier start.

Quick Entries

  • Nati Clarke, a potential future Homegrown left back, signed a pro contract SKC II.
  • The Sporting KC U-19s were eliminated from the UPSL playoffs on a cold, rainy Saturday at Swope Park this past Saturday against Indio Denver FC. It was a competitive game lost in the last moments of regulation.
  • The Kansas City Current have sold out their 9,500 season tickets to their new stadium. That leaves 2,000 tickets that aren’t tied up by season tickets, despite the higher ticket prices from last season.
  • All those fans are going to need somewhere to park. Residents in the area are concerned.
  • The KC Current announced a higher education partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. There appears to be some sort of benefit to the players (free school?!?!) but I haven’t been able to confirm what with the team at press time.
  • Former KC Current head coach, Matt Potter, has landed with Bay FC as the Technical Director.
  • Michelle Yang, the owner of the Washington Spirit and Lyon, is adding the London City Lionesses with the ambition to add many more clubs.
  • Jack Price wasn’t pleased with his most recent offer from the Colorado Rapids. “I felt the offer was quite disrespectful. I felt like it was a little bit of a kick in the balls to be honest.”
  • This is fun! Someone with some talent (or maybe no talent), should try this with MLS logos (click the tweet to see all the art).

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