FC Cincinnati will make the jump from the second-tier United Soccer League to Major League Soccer next year as the league’s 24th team.
Under normal circumstances, Cincinnati’s arrival in MLS would mean Toronto FC could potentially lose a player this off-season in the expansion draft.
But the league on Friday released the rules for the expansion draft slate to take place on Dec. 11, and confirmed that the five teams who lost players in last year’s expansion draft to LAFC will be exempt this time around.
LAFC selected Canadian winger Raheem Edwards from TFC in last year’s expansion draft, which means the Reds have earned a reprieve and won’t lose anybody to FC Cincinnati.
The Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, and Columbus Crew will also not be involved after losing players to LAFC last year.
The other 18 MLS clubs, including the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, can protect 11 players on their rosters for the upcoming expansion draft. FC Cincinnati can select up to five players from the pool of available players, but they can only claim a single player from any one club.
TFC general manager Tom Bezbatchenko hinted that his club might be exempt in the expansion draft when speaking to reporters at the club’s end-of-season media availability late last month.