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MLS needs to change international status rules

Schillo Tshuma was the No. 17 overall pick of the 2014 MLS draft but he lasted only a year and a half with the Portland Timbers. While he wasn't an immediate hit, his international status might have made it tougher for the club to commit to developing him.

Schillo Tshuma was the No. 17 overall pick of the 2014 MLS draft but he lasted only a year and a half with the Portland Timbers. While he wasn’t an immediate hit, his international status might have made it tougher for the club to commit to developing him.

The MLS is supposed to first be a place for Americans to grow and develop in the sport of soccer, so in order to keep the opportunity for aspiring American soccer player to one day play professionally, the international rule makes sense. But the rule needs to be tweaked.

Currently, the league is only allowed to have 160 international roster spots that are divided among the 20 clubs. Spots can be traded, but there are only an average of eight spots per team. For the three Canadian teams, their domestic slots may be filled with either Canadian or U.S. domestic players but are required to have a minimum of three Canadian domestic players on their roster.

The exception that should be added is if a player plays either two years in high school or four years in college in America, they should be considered as a domestic player. Many teams use international spots on designated players. With most of the elite soccer talent in the world hailing from other countries outside of the United States and Canada, the international spots are used to bring elite talent into the MLS, but far too often we’ve seen young guy who might need a little bit of development who have been in America for a long time but are still not citizens. It would still prevent a player from playing just a short time in college to earn eligibility as a domestic player.

There are limited options for players like that and with few teams willing to use international spots on young, developing players they don’t get that chance. Sure, guys could play for the NASL or USL or PDL, but players on those teams still need full-time jobs elsewhere and don’t get to play and practice against top competition.

To commit to a full-time professional career traveling abroad to smaller countries, like Trinidad, or Iceland or Saudi Arabia are the best options, but that requires a person, who has already uprooted their life to a country to re-uproot their life to go to another country and that also limits the ability for those people to work toward their American citizenship. That also makes being loaned out impossible for some players as well, which ultimately can lead to an outright release rather than a continued career with an MLS career.

It’s a sad situation and ignored the fact that player are people. Allowing players who have had their youth and amateur careers in America the ability to continue to develop in the top American soccer league would be beneficial to them and would be beneficial to the MLS, because some players just need a little bit more development to be very good players.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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