Major League Soccer has provided its clubs with greater roster flexibility in the form of $1.6 million in targeted allocation money per team over the next two years.
Targeted allocation money was introduced during the 2015 season as a mechanism that allows teams to acquire players who would otherwise sit above the threshold as designated players. Specifically, it can be used to pay a player making between $457,500 and $1 million per year so that the player does not count as a designated player. Each MLS team can have up to three designated players on their roster at a time.
It's unclear how the New York Red Bulls will be able to use this money, given that they currently have just one or two designated players. Bradley Wright-Phillips made $600,000 last year, according to the Players' Union, which would put him firmly in TAM range. Gonzalo Veron was a designated player in 2015, but this may have been the result of the $2.2 million transfer fee paid to acquire him.
TAM could in theory be used to "buy down" the salary cap hits of either or both of those players to free up a DP slot, but that does not make much sense for a team that isn't using all of its slots. If the Red Bulls were to do so, they would have to bring in a player of equal or greater salary, which doesn't fit how Red Bull has done business of late.
TAM can be traded among clubs the way regular allocation money is dealt. This would seem to be the most likely option for the Red Bulls; the question then becomes who or what they can acquire for that sort of money. TAM is most valuable to teams with three designated players. The Red Bulls might want to take a close look at the squads of LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, or MLS Cup winners Portland Timbers.