MLS increases Targeted Allocation Money for 2018 and 2019 seasons

TORONTO -- Major League Soccer announced on Friday another increase in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) over the next two seasons, a regulatory alphabet soup designed to beef up the league's middle class.

Each of the league's teams will receive $1.2 million in both 2018 and 2019, plus an additional $2.8 million, per year both years, in discretionary TAM that clubs can choose or not choose to dip into.

TAM may be used to sign new or re-sign existing players whose salary and acquisition costs are more than the maximum salary budget charge but less than $1.5 million. In layman's terms, it's a way for the league to prod each of its members to invest in potential starters that fall below the superstar category.

Asked why MLS doesn't just raise the salary cap, league executive vice president J. Todd Durbin said that option has been considered.

"We absolutely think about it," Durbin said during commissioner Don Garber's state of the league address on Friday. "When you talk about driving quality, one of the things you think about is the way you want to structure your roster and budget.

"For us, we don't come to the table or to the process with the idea of making it complicated, or to make it into a system that's not understandable. ... If we are going to invest money, what is the best way to invest that money in a strategic way? We believe, and will continue to believe, that rather than just increase spending generally, if we are going to be increasingly spending, we should be doing it in a way that responds to a very specific need.

"The changes that we have made have been in response to a specific need: Whether it's the designated player rule to increase the top half of the roster; whether it's the homegrown (player) rule, which was a recognition that we really needed to invest in the youth and spend in that space.

"Today, it was really about continued recognition that the next stage in our evolution is that we really need to drive value in the middle of the roster, at a specific level of compensation."

Durbin also pushed back against the idea that MLS' roster rules are any more byzantine than, say, the NFL's or the NBA's.

"Part of it is the nature of sports in this country," Durbin said. "When you're talking about building, spending in the context of competition, you're going to have some degree of rules that make it complicated. ... Where we can make it simpler, we do."