League Rules: MLS Transfer Windows

ABCS Transfer Window

MLS offers two separate transfer windows over the course of a season. During these time periods MLS clubs can trade players, draft picks, allocation money, and other assets to one another or clubs from other leagues.  

Primary transfer window - Feb. 14-May 8
Secondary (Summer) window - July 10-Aug. 9

Continue reading to find out everything you need to know, from draft pick trades to international player transfers, about the MLS transfer windows.

Any transactions not completed during MLS’s primary transfer window must wait until the secondary window opens in July. 

Major League Soccer’s secondary transfer window - considered the League’s summer transfer window - officially opens on Monday, July 10th.  Clubs are able complete various transactions until the window closes on Wednesday, August 9th.  

‘Transactions’ involve any transfer of assets from one club to another; ranging from player trades to swapping draft picks, roster spots, or allocation money.        

MLS clubs may announce incoming/outgoing player trades outside of the transfer windows, but a player will not be officially added to the club’s roster until his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is transferred. A player’s ITC may only be transferred during one of the MLS transfer windows. That is: the traded player cannot compete in official MLS matches for the recipient club until his ITC is transferred during either the primary or secondary transfer window.

To clear up any confusion you may still have, I will use the example of how Orlando City acquired Jonathan Spector this past offseason. 

In January 2017, Jonathan Spector was eligible for a transfer away from English side Birmingham City. On January 24th it was announced that Spector had agreed to a two-year deal with Orlando City. The veteran defender signed the deal, and all the pieces were in place for Spector to make the move to Orlando. 

The transfer was made official in February - during Major League Soccer’s primary transfer window - when Spector’s approved ITC was transferred from Birmingham City to Orlando City SC. Spector was then added to Orlando City’s official roster available to compete in MLS matches.