Insider Notes: MLS increases TAM, wants two expansion teams at a time

MLS is significantly increasing its allotment of Targeted Allocation Money across the league, and it wants its expansion teams coming in two at a time. Grant Wahl has the details.
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We reported last month that MLS was likely to increase its Targeted Allocation Money, and the league has made it official Wednesday, announcing that $32 million in TAM money is being added league-wide over the next two years. That's $800,000 more per team per year, and it’s specifically targeted toward improving the quality of players four through seven on rosters, right below the Designated Player level.

TAM was viewed as a success in its debut this year, with TAM signings including Gastón Sauro of Columbus, Johan Venegas of Montreal and Aníbal Godoy of San Jose (TAM was also used to buy down the budget charge of other players to allow LA to add Giovani Dos Santos and Portland to add Lucas Melano despite having the full allotment of three DPs), which is why the number has been increased significantly.

In addition to that, the league has made an additional $125,000 per team available over the next two seasons to sign homegrown players, which amounts to $5 million across the league.

"By injecting an additional $37 million into the system, our clubs will be able to strengthen the depth of their rosters by signing more high-quality players," MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a league statement. "We saw immediate dividends this past season with the initial investment in Targeted Allocation Money, and our owners believe that additional spending–especially for players who will impact the middle of our rosters–will make MLS even more entertaining and compelling."

Here are a couple of more insider notes from around MLS:

MLS wants balanced expansion

In MLS expansion news, I’m told the league is prioritizing having two teams come in at the same time in the next expansion rounds, the better to keep scheduling and conferences even. That would mean Atlanta and Minnesota in 2017 and LAFC and Miami in 2018. Minnesota would need to play in a temporary stadium in 2017, and I’m told one possibility is the Minnesota Twins baseball stadium (which is grass).

As for Atlanta United FC, keep an eye on current Columbus Crew SC assistant Josh Wolff as a coaching possibility. Atlanta does have interest in him, and he’s from the Atlanta area. Wolff and Atlanta technical director Carlos Bocanegra have ties as past U.S. men's national team and Chicago Fire teammates, as well.

Moor draws free agency interest

The first year of MLS free agency is heating up, and one intriguing example is All-Star defender Drew Moor. I’m told that a half-dozen MLS teams are interested in signing the 31-year-old Moor, including his most recent team (Colorado Rapids) and Toronto FC, which needs help fortifying its back line.

Moor made $270,000 this year per the MLS Players Union, and, per the league's collective bargaining agreement, his salary can go up no more than 15%, but other sweeteners are being included in the mix. For example, I’m told Colorado is interested in offering Moor a role with the team after he retires from playing. Moor has been with Colorado since 2009 after spending the beginning of his career with FC Dallas in his native Texas.