Stephen Hart Kissimmee, Fla. Can you please expand on what it means, in your section titled ôMLS Players on Loan," for a player to "train" with a foreign club. Is there payment to the player, player's club, MLS, the USSF, etc.? Are the players eligible to play for the clubs they are training with? Ridge Mahoney:Stephen, the deals vary by the terms of agreement between the clubs. When several Columbus players went to train with Bayer Leverkusen a few years ago, their expenses were shared as per conditions of a working agreement the clubs had previously arranged. The club accepting the players to train is responsible for arranging housing and will sometimes pay a stipend for meals. The players, who are under contract, are paid by their MLS teams as they would if they were playing or training in the United States, unless other arrangements are made. There is no payment to either MLS or U.S. Soccer, and they are not eligible to play in official matches against other teams. Depending on the competitive regulations in force, they could be allowed to play in unofficial games. There is a distinct difference between players on loan and those training with a club. Players on loan to English clubs -- such as Ben Olsen -- can play in reserve games or first-team matches, but players simply training with a club and thus not signed to a standard player's contract cannot play, for the English reserve leagues are competitions run in accordance to English Football Association rules. These regulations vary from country to country. The general rule-of-thumb is there are few restrictions on players training with teams, but to play in an official competition, the player must be signed to a loan contract or standard player contract and registered on the active roster. (If you have a question for a Soccer America Magazine editor, click "Q&A with SA Editors" in the left column of the home page under "Interactive.")
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