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Important 2018 MLS Offseason Dates

The MLS draft season kicks off this week now that MLS Cup is over.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The wildness of the MLS offseason is truly upon us now that MLS Cup is over and the confetti has been cleared out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Teams from across the league are gearing up for a busy two week slate that will see plenty of movement, trades, and countless rumors swirling around. FC Dallas will look to this coming week for potentially losing someone in the Expansion Draft to FC Cincinnati or be able to pick up someone in the Waiver or Re-Entry Draft.

Here are the important dates you need to know about coming up:

2018 MLS Offseason Calendar

December 9

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM CT - Half-Day Trade Window

Following a three-month roster freeze, MLS clubs may begin making adjustments to their rosters. This is a four-hour window in which clubs may sign and trade players (both non-Re-Entry Draft eligible players and Re-Entry Draft eligible).

December 9

11 AM CT - Option Exercise Deadline for MLS Cup Participants

Portland and Atlanta must notify the League Office in writing of 1) players whose options they are exercising and/or 2) players who are receiving bona fide offers.

December 9

12:00 PM CT - Blackout Period begins

Blackout Period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign and/or trade their own draft-eligible players until conclusion of Expansion Draft.

December 11

1:00 PM CT - Expansion Draft

FC Cincinnati may select up to five players from the eligible MLS player pool. Only a single player can be drafted from any one club.

December 11

2:00 PM CT - Free Agency Begins

Clubs may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Eligible players include Out of Contract and Option Decline players that meet the age and years-of-service parameters.

December 12

3:00 PM CT - 2018 MLS Waiver Draft

Consisting of players who have been waived by clubs and do not meet minimum years of service requirement for Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency; the Waiver Draft is conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion FC Cincinnati selecting last.

December 14

2:00 PM CT - 2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft – Stage 1

The Re-Entry Draft (both stages) is conducted in reverse order of 2018 season finish, taking into account postseason performance, with expansion club FC Cincinnati selecting last. This portion of the Re-Entry Draft has historically been pretty quiet for most MLS teams with very few players selected in this stage since you have to match the player’s previous year salary for 2019 (or improve it).

December 20

1:00 PM CT - 2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft – Stage 2

The Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 is conducted in the same format as Stage 1 and consists of MLS players who were not selected in the Stage 1. Unlike Stage 1, teams selecting players in Stage 2 may negotiate new contracts with the player.

January 3-9

2019 MLS Combine

The Combine will be held at Orlando City Stadium from Jan. 3-9 as coaches and technical directors from across the league will watch some of the top young talent eligible for selection.

January 11

2019 MLS SuperDraft

Newcomers FC Cincinnati will join the other 23 MLS teams in Chicago for the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.