As MLS introduced TAM in 2015 and then Discretionary TAM in 2018, the number of players clubs imported has picked up.
And inevitably, many of them have received green cards as permanent
residents, creating space for even more international players to be signed.
Each team begins with a maximum of eight international roster slots -- for a maximum of 208 across the league
-- though they can be traded, allowing a team to have more than eight slots.
But a player's status doesn't depend on whether he is a U.S. citizen and eligible to play for the USA (or
Canadian and eligible to play for Canada in the case of players on the three Canadian teams).
A player doesn't count as an international player if he holds a green card or other special
status (refugee or asylum status) or -- this is rare -- qualifies under the Homegrown International Rule.
Players receiving green cards have come in bunches this winter. In mid-January
alone ... Jan. 14.
Atlanta United freed up three international roster spots when Ezequiel Barco
, Franco Escobar
and Eric Remedi
, all three Argentines in their third MLS seasons, became permanent U.S. residents. Jan. 17.
Cincinnati midfielder Allan Cruz
and defender Mathieu Deplagne
, both second-year players, obtained green cards and became permanent U.S. residents. Jan. 20.
Third-year D.C. United midfielders Junior Moreno
and Ulises Segura
, from Venezuela and Costa Rica, respectively, obtained their green cards
that granted them permanent residence. Jan. 22.
Inter Miami's Matias Pellegrini
and Julian Carranza
green cards. What was unusual about the pair of Argentines is that neither has yet to play an MLS game.
Of the 23 U.S. teams in MLS, 13 have as many or more foreigners (international
players and green card or special-status holders) as they have U.S. citizens on their current rosters. (That number will likely decrease as teams fill out their supplemental and reserve rosters ahead
of the start of the 2020 season on Feb. 29.)
Of the 572 players currently on these 23 rosters, only 281 -- 49 percent -- are eligible to play for the USA. (Six others are U.S. citizens
who represent other countries internationally.)
LAFC, the winner of the 2019 Supporters' Shield with a record 72 points, lists 24 players on its 2020 roster: eight Americans and 16
foreigners (three Uruguayans, two Canadians, two Colombians, two Ecuadorans, two Mexicans, one Brazilian, one Dutchman, one Egyptian, one Ghanaian and one Norwegian).
Three LAFC players
were signed as Designated Players -- Brian Rodriguez
, Diego Rossi
, Carlos Vela
-- and seven were signed using TAM -- Kenneth Vermeer
, Eddie Segura
, Danilo Silva
, Eduard Atuesta
, Jose Cifuentes
and Francisco Ginella
. Atuesta and Rossi have since obtained green cards.
Of the 26 players on the Portland Timbers' roster, only seven -- Jeff Attinella
, Steve Clark
, Marco Farfan
, Blake Bodily
, Eryk Williamson
and Jeremy Ebobisse
-- are U.S. citizens and eligible to play for the U.S. national team. (Colombian star Diego Chara
became a U.S. citizen last fall.)
The Houston Dynamo's projected starting lineup
as picked by MLSSoccer.com's Matt Doyle
consists of three Hondurans, two Argentines, two Colombians, one Chilean, one Slovenian, one Swede and a Croatian-Austrian in goal. Five -- soon, six -- of them hold green cards.
three Western Conference teams were projected to start as many as six Americans: Colorado, FC Dallas and Nashville SC.