Expansion Draft History Cover Image

Expansion Draft: History Lesson

The MLS Expansion Draft has been existence for almost 20 years to date starting in 1997 when Chicago Fire and Miami Fusion entered the league.

The expansion draft provides a platform for incoming teams to obtain players who have MLS playing experience. Previously, participating teams were able to acquire 10 total players in the draft. However, this year MLS has decided to reduce that number to five and to compensate, it will offer more allocation money to the expansion teams.

Traditionally, most players drafted in the expansion serve as role players, offering playing experience and familiarity with the league. They have been left unprotected by their current teams, meaning they were not considered in that club’s top 11 players.

However, this doesn’t mean there won’t be valuable assets available to be selected in the draft. The players could be left unprotected for a number of reasons. For example: they may not fit in the coach’s system, they may be a young and undiscovered talent, or the squad may be so deep in quality that the team was unable to lock down all the players they desired.

Below are just a few of the former expansion draft picks that have panned out and had successful MLS careers:

Tommy McNamara, NYCFC

  • Selected by NYCFC in 2014
  • Played in 49 games in 2 seasons for NYCFC
  • 10 goals & 12 assists

Dax McCarty, NY Red Bulls

  • Selected by Portland in 2010 (traded to D.C. United, then NY Red Bulls)
  • Played in 169 games in 6 seasons for NY Red Bulls
  • 14 goals & 27 assists

Patrick Mullins, D.C. United

  • Selected by NYCFC in 2014 (traded to D.C. United after first season)
  • 6 goals for NYCFC in 2015
  • 8 goals for D.C. United in 2016

Sebastien Le Toux, Colorado Rapids

  • Selected by Philadelphia in 2009 (traded to Vancouver Whitecaps, then New York Red Bulls, then back to Philadelphia)
  • 50 goals and 50 assists in 175 games for Philadelphia
  • 25 goals and 30 assists from 2013-2016 for Philadelphia (after returning)
  • Traded to Colorado in July 2016
  • Club’s all-time leading scorer
  • Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s all-time leading scorer

Brad Evans, Seattle Sounders FC

  • Selected by Seattle in 2008
  • Played in 189 games in 8 seasons for Seattle
  • 19 goals and 27 assists


Previous Expansion Drafts:

2014: New York City FC and Orlando City SC

2011: Montreal Impact

2010: Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers

2009: Philadelphia Union

2008: Seattle Sounders FC

2007: San Jose Earthquakes

2006: Toronto FC

2004: Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake

1997: Chicago Fire and Miami Fusion F.C.


2016 MLS Expansion Draft

Participating Teams: Atlanta United and Minnesota United

WATCH: You can follow this year’s MLS Expansion Draft LIVE at Atlanta United’s Facebook Page or YouTube on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. ET

Learn More: Everything you need to know about the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft