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MLS offseason dates for player acquisition; or, making D.C. United better

The offseason is here, and December will be a busy month

Now that D.C. United is officially in offseason mode, there are dates for all of Major League Soccer's offseason activities to plot on the calendar. The league's byzantine processes, drafts, and machinations can be confusing to even a seasoned MLS viewer, so we've broken down the entire offseason for you. Obviously, there will be much more coverage of each of these events as they get closer.

Monday, December 7: List of all players eligible for Free Agency and Re-Entry Draft made public

Free agency is new to MLS this year, whereas the Re-Entry Draft was MLS' first attempt at a player movement mechanism. Not all out-of-contract players are eligible for these mechanisms, so the lists will make official who may be on the move and whose rights are still held by their teams.

Tuesday, December 8 : Starting at 1 p.m. ET, Free Agents may engage in negotiations with MLS clubs outside of their previous club. List of eligible players for the Waiver Draft made public.

The free agency list is likely to be small; Bobby Boswell could have been on it, but he has already re-signed with D.C. United. It will be very interesting to see how this first crop of free agents negotiates and how much movement there is.

Wednesday, December 9: Waiver Draft at 4:30 p.m. ET

The waiver draft is a catch-all mechanism for players who don't fall into any of the league's other player acquisition methods. There are five categories of players who currently are entered into the waiver draft: players waived by an MLS club in the current season; players who completed his college eligibility within the past season, who was not made available in the SuperDraft; playesr who has remaining college eligibility (and was not made available in the SuperDraft), only after the League at its discretion and after taking into account exceptional circumstances determines the player may be offered an MLS contract; players who has played in MLS previously where his last MLS team does not wish to exercise their right of first refusal; and players who was drafted in the SuperDraft, and who after a trial with the club is not offered a contract as of the date following the first Regular Season match of the club which drafted him.

Waiver drafts are never very exciting, so don't expect much to happen here.

Thursday, December 10: Starting at 5 p.m. ET, clubs may no longer sign or trade their own Re-Entry eligible players

The window closes to give teams a final list of whom will be available in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft. Until this day, players who appear on the initial list can still get re-signed by their current teams.

Friday, December 11: Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft at 3 p.m. ET

Players available in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft are available at their option salary for 2016 or at at least their 2015 salary if they are out of contract. After the first round, teams can again attempt to re-sign their out of contract players if they were not selected. Last year, D.C. United did not take anyone.

Wednesday, December 16: Starting at 11 a.m. ET, clubs may no longer sign or trade their own Re-Entry eligible players

Again, the window closes to finalize the list.

Thursday, December 17: Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft at 3 p.m. ET

Players available in this stage can be offered basically any salary by the team that selects them; if they do not accept, they would have to find work outside of the league.

January 7-12, 2016: 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine

January 14, 2016: 2016 MLS SuperDraft

These two are fairly self-explanatory; the combine is where MLS teams scout college and other eligible players the league invites, and the draft will consist of four rounds. Most players taken after the first round do not stick in MLS.

January 22, 2016: 2016 MLS preseason begins

That seems really close, doesn't it?