MLS has altered its format for the MLS expansion draft and is also planning changes for the location of its player combine and SuperDraft.

By Grant Wahl
September 13, 2016

MLS has a pair of expansion teams in Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC for next season, and after considering dropping the expansion draft the league has decided to go ahead with a modified format.

Each new team will select five players in the expansion draft, down from 10 in the draft two years ago. Each existing team will lose no more than one unprotected player. The expansion draft will take place on Dec. 13, 2016, three days after the MLS Cup final. A couple of MLS general managers criticized the league for taking this long to notify them of the rules, noting that it hurts their planning, but they should also be happy considering fewer teams will be losing players under the new format.

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MLS is also close to confirming that the next MLS Player Combine will move from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it has taken place in recent years, to the Los Angeles area in the days before the MLS SuperDraft takes place in L.A. on January 13.

The annual NSCAA convention, during which the draft has regularly been held, will also take place in L.A. that same week in January.

Here are a couple of more insider notes from around the soccer world:

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu joined the Planet Fútbol podcast as the club opened its new office in New York City last week and is convinced he can keep both Lionel Messi and Neymar–whom he called the top two players in the world–for the long haul.

Neymar signed a new five-year contract with Barcelona in June, and both players have buyout clauses in excess of €200 million. That said, a source close to Man City says he thinks City bosses will go hard to meet the buyout clause for Messi in the next year now that the club has Pep Guardiola on board. Messi told SI earlier this year that he is extremely happy in Barcelona, though.

Bartomeu also said Barcelona is serious about starting a women’s team in the NWSL, likely in 2018 in New York, Los Angeles or the Bay Area, as well as a team in the new U.S. futsal league involving Mark Cuban and other investors.

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The UEFA presidential election is Wednesday, and multiple European sources say they think Slovenian FA president Aleksander Ceferin will beat Michael van Praag of the Netherlands.

Ceferin, a 48-year-old lawyer, is viewed as an outsider to UEFA governance and as such a breath of fresh air in the post-FIFA scandal world. He supports term limits and giving a voice to smaller UEFA nations, and he has the support of many countries including France, Italy, Germany, Russia and, soureces say, FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

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There has been a power vacuum at UEFA since former president Michel Platini was banned, and the European Clubs Association took advantage of that power vacuum, pushing through a new measure that will see the top four teams of the big major countries–England, Spain, Italy, Germany–all qualify automatically for the Champions League group stage beginning in 2018.

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