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Sporting KC Make a Trade: What does it mean?

Is this trade enough money to get Sporting Kansas City over the line for a couple big deals? Let’s delve into it and figure it all out.



Credit: Thad Bell

Major League Soccer has complicated rules. I’m not telling you anything you probably haven’t heard before. Today, Sporting Kansas City executed a trade that you need a master’s degree in MLS capology to understand. Luckily, I did my undergrad work emphasizing in General Allocation Money (GAM), so I can be of a little assistance.

Sporting KC sent two international roster spots to Charlotte FC in exchange for $350,000 in GAM. They get $200,000 of that this year, and another $150,000 next year. One wonders if this deal was worked out on the sidelines of that 3-3 preseason draw. Let’s break this into chunks.

Why would Sporting KC trade international roster spots?

In MLS, teams get eight international roster spots per season. They can trade for more or send some away for players, draft picks or GAM (and frankly weird other things like Discovery rights or college protected rights). Sporting KC already dealt one to Nashville SC for 18 months in the middle of last year. They sent two more 2024 spots to Charlotte today.

That leaves them with only five international roster spots. The last time we knew the international status of players, the team had seven of those spots used: Robert Voloder, Willy Agada, Zorhan Bassong, Nemanja Radoja, Tim Leibold, Dany Rosero and Alenis Vargas.

But that leaves out an important element. Green cards.

We know that Dany Rosero is in Colombia working on his green card right now. Presumably other players may have already done the same. One report has Nemanja Radoja potentially getting his. Erik Thommy got his in between signing in the summer of 2022 and the start of the 2023 season. It wouldn’t be a stretch for fellow Germans Leibold and Voloder to get theirs. Willy Agada signed the same day as Thommy.

There are a lot of factors going on here. What is safe to assume is Sporting KC wouldn’t trade away the spots if they weren’t sure they were good. I’d expect they have at least two green cards coming. If it’s only two, then that limits their ability to sign an international player. However, they could still transfer or trade away someone or acquire a green card during the year. MLS changed the rules and teams have until the opening of the summer transfer window to obtain a green card, but they still must be in compliance in February before the season starts.

I wouldn’t be worried about international spots.

GAM, what is it good for?

Absolutely something! Actually, lots of somethings.

As Sporting KC laid out in their announcement of the trade, there are plenty of ways to make use of General Allocation Money. You can sign new players. You can re-sign players. You can pay down loan and transfer fees against the salary budget. GAM can be used to bring a budget charge down to the less of 50 percent of the salary budget charge or $150,000.

As was laid out earlier in the offseason, Sporting KC have some roster flexibility, but it’s not limitless. As things stood going into the season, the team could make one really big splash by signing a Designated Player (DP) and then a few fringe moves. This allows $200k more towards a secondary move. It may be enough to sign Kellyn Acosta and a DP.

Rumor: Sporting KC “in the mix” for Kellyn Acosta

It’s almost certainly enough to temporarily place Acosta as a DP for the first half of the season and go for a huge move in the summer when more players are out of contract and teams are more willing to sell. The cap charge of a summer window signing is half of that of someone signed before that window opens.

If Acosta is signed and another DP is signed either now or in the summer, this will be a good bit of business. It’s impossible to know 100 percent how much money Sporting KC have to spend, but it at least makes things more plausible.

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