You may have missed it, but the LA Galaxy kicked another door down and it's a pretty significant one.
For their match against the Houston Dynamo on July 25th, they loaned three players from their USL reserve squad, Los Dos, to their MLS squad: Dave Romney, Ariel Lassiter, and Daniel Steres. Lassiter and Romney both appeared during the match, with the latter recently signing a contract with the MLS squad.
Why is this a big deal? It shouldn't be. In most leagues, players from the reserve squad are called up to the senior squad and sent back down all the time. Nobody bats an eye because roster movement is fluid and less restrictive. However, this is MLS where parity is enforced in even the most absurd of circumstances.
It was previously believed that teams would not be allowed to freely loan players from the USL squad to the MLS squad. MLS to USL loans would be fine, but player movement in the opposite direction represents an unfair advantage to cheap owners who didn't form reserve squads.
Don't believe me?
I've been told that, prior to Romney/Lassiter being loaned by/to LA on 7/25, most non-LA teams had no idea such loans were possible.— Jonathan Yardley (@jtyardley) August 5, 2015
Has Pandora's box been opened? Will the Galaxy be able to sign players to their USL squad, save cap space, and loan them to the MLS team at will? No, that's absurd.
What they have done is blast through perceived limitations by simply testing a rule that apparently didn't exist.
Now every team with a USL reserve squad can take advantage of these loans when they're short a few players or simply want to give a young player some MLS experience. Naturally -- because this is MLS -- there will probably be some rules written up during the off-season restricting and regulating movement to prevent teams from taking advantage of the arrangement.
However, considering there was talk that USL-to-MLS loans wouldn't be allowed at all, this is a progressive step forward for a league that is usually averse to realistic and pragmatic roster building.
What are the implications for the New York Red Bulls? The next time the team has an injury crisis, they don't have to make emergency signings, but can call up a few players from NYRB II. Young players with tons of potential like Tyler Adams or Daniel Bedoya who have been impressing in USL could be loaned up to MLS for a match to see if they can hang at the level.
Attracting talent is a zero-sum game and organizations now have another carrot to dangle in front of their Academy players. A club like the Red Bulls or the Galaxy can sign an Academy player to a USL contract and promise that he will be in the lineup for a few MLS matches. Regardless of whether the MLS matches are being used for development or recruitment purposes, teams with USL reserve squads have another weapon in their arsenal.
The Galaxy are the best organization in MLS because they're willing to push the boundaries. Every other team thought loan players on their USL reserve teams to the MLS squad was illegal. The Galaxy tested the nonexistent rule and the league is better for it. Now we get to wait and see if other teams will take advantage and to what extent the league will go to prevent such movement.