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Playing the MLS in FM


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I have been working on learning the game, now I would like to start playing in the MLS as this is the league I know the best.  I realize that are some different rules than the rest of the world.  I was wondering two things:

1.  Do you have any tips regarding playing in the MLS?  I am looking for ways to get the best of out a long term save in the league.

2.  If you read some of the league specific bugs, the posts in there seem to be very negative about the ability to play in the league.  Is it worth starting a save in the MLS based on what I am reading?  I don't see much in the patch notes where the MLS is being updated, so that is why I am asking.

I do appreciate the suggestions and advice.

Thanks,

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I tried a save with ATL United and the salary cap screwed me up so I abandoned the save, then I tried another one with Cincinnati and ended up having the same issue. So pay attention to your wages. All credit to the devs for the hard work incorporating the different league structure of American sports that the MLS uses, however neither the interface nor your backroom staff offer user-friendly options for keeping you on track with the salary cap so you're kind of left to figure it out yourself. IIRC, ATL had like 50MM in available wages but was over the cap with the starting squad, but it was not obvious to me until it was too late. 

Can't speak too much to the bugs and stuff.

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1 hour ago, blazertaz13 said:

I have been working on learning the game, now I would like to start playing in the MLS as this is the league I know the best.  I realize that are some different rules than the rest of the world.  I was wondering two things:

1.  Do you have any tips regarding playing in the MLS?  I am looking for ways to get the best of out a long term save in the league.

2.  If you read some of the league specific bugs, the posts in there seem to be very negative about the ability to play in the league.  Is it worth starting a save in the MLS based on what I am reading?  I don't see much in the patch notes where the MLS is being updated, so that is why I am asking.

I do appreciate the suggestions and advice.

Thanks,

I play MLS regularly and I know many others do.  I don't normally read the posts about MLS but from what I have seen the biggest challenge is learning to deal with the salary cap and the rules related to it.  There are also some challenges about the status of a player - only so many reserve, minimum salary, and that sort of thing, so the first piece of advice is to study these.  Next you have to understand that MLS is a development league and you simply can't afford to load the roster up with high salaried players.  In real life teams are learning to develop young players and then sell them on.  In addition, just as in real life, your veteran players often have to be moved on as they want increasingly lucrative contracts as they improve.

The next thing to understand is that the game simply doesn't generate US players as good as what we are seeing IRL.  Don't expect any of the US academies to produce a Pulisic or a Sargent or a Gio Reyna.  I can't say you'll never see this in multiple game years, just like I can't see you'll never win a lottery jackpot, but don't expect it.  There is a thread in the download forum discussing issues with newgens that might be worth reading.  Further, the newgens you get in your academy will be around 16 1/2 or 17 and won't normally be first team quality.  Contrast this with real life where many MLS teams are signing 15 year olds to contracts.  If you do have a talented kid in your academy sign them right away because just as IRL foreign teams will gobble them up.  As an example of this, from real life, FC Schalke poached Weston McKennie from the FC Dallas Academy for free.  Dallas learned and signed Chris Richards as soon as they could and then sold him to Bayern Munich for a few million even though he never played for the first team.  They signed Bryan Reynolds as a 15 yr old and are now in negotiations to sell him to Juventus for $9.2 million after only about a year playing with the first team.  So, in your playthrough, harvest your academy talent.  Also, you may want to use the ingame editor to adjust ages or PA since what the game generates won't match what we are seeing in real life.

Each database update has people added to the game with CA and PA based on what some human estimates.  Historically it seems that US based players will be rated lower than what you would expect.  As an example of what I mean, Brenden Aaronson was given a PA of 107 in the 2019 database when he played for Philadelphia, but in the 2021 database he now plays for a European team and has a PA of 150.  I've seen this with various other players I've followed that were developed in the US and then moved to Europe.   It seems their "potential" improves by transferring to Europe.  So, feel free to use the ingame editor if you wish.  On a wry note, a 19yr old kid from California who went from an academy in Arizona to FC Schalke just scored a hat trick yesterday in a Bundesliga game, not bad for a kid with a PA of 113.

Your reserve team will only play simulated games and you might not have as much control over it as you want.  On the other hand, you can sign young players and then have them "play" in your reserve team as well as your first team, just as IRL.

Check the download forums.  A player named Uncle Sam contributes a download for MLS that includes lower leagues from US and Canada.  I often use his stuff as it improves the overall experience for me.

 

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The MLS offers a unique experience, with all it's rules, that you do not get in any other league in FM. This makes it very attractive to many a player. However, SI know this league is broken and it has been this way for years. AI in the MLS is worse than terrible, with half of the league ending up with rosters of 10-16 players and as a result of this they field greyed out players. They sign high value players, then immediately waive them as the AI has no understanding of buying down salary cap impact, or any idea of cap management. This makes the league unplayable for myself, and many others. 

 

I would advise giving it a go, as it is a fun experience to learn all of the unique rules and develop an MLS playstyle. Once you are comfortable with the rules, drafts, cap etc that's when it becomes crap as you see the AI is useless. 

 

As Longhorn said, Uncle Sam contributes a fantastic USA download that adds a lot to the experience as you can play as college teams etc. His file is truly remarkable, and one of the best pieces of Editor Data that I've come across, but even he doesn't have the power to fix the MLS issues. 

 

Give it a go, learn the rules, then wait for SI to either fix it or realise they are wasting their time and resources on obtaining the licences for a league they know is broken.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/01/2021 at 23:19, KeegBCFC said:

The MLS offers a unique experience, with all it's rules, that you do not get in any other league in FM. This makes it very attractive to many a player. However, SI know this league is broken and it has been this way for years. AI in the MLS is worse than terrible, with half of the league ending up with rosters of 10-16 players and as a result of this they field greyed out players. They sign high value players, then immediately waive them as the AI has no understanding of buying down salary cap impact, or any idea of cap management. This makes the league unplayable for myself, and many others. 

 

I would advise giving it a go, as it is a fun experience to learn all of the unique rules and develop an MLS playstyle. Once you are comfortable with the rules, drafts, cap etc that's when it becomes crap as you see the AI is useless. 

 

As Longhorn said, Uncle Sam contributes a fantastic USA download that adds a lot to the experience as you can play as college teams etc. His file is truly remarkable, and one of the best pieces of Editor Data that I've come across, but even he doesn't have the power to fix the MLS issues. 

 

Give it a go, learn the rules, then wait for SI to either fix it or realise they are wasting their time and resources on obtaining the licences for a league they know is broken.

I couldnt find Uncle Sams editor files for FM 21. Is it available?

Also @Longhorn or @KeegBCFC could you advise on how to navigate the salary cap issues please? Im using this https://www.footballmanager.com/the-byline/guide-mls-teams-league as a guide but wanted to know if there's anything its not covering

Edited by francis#17
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19 minutes ago, KeegBCFC said:

Uncle Sam hasn't released anything yet, not sure if he will be this year, fingers crossed though

I don't really understand the advantage of his MOD if you want to manage in the MLS since there is no pyramid. What's the advantages of it if you still want to manage in the MLS?

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28 minutes ago, francis#17 said:

I don't really understand the advantage of his MOD if you want to manage in the MLS since there is no pyramid. What's the advantages of it if you still want to manage in the MLS?

Most MLS clubs have their B teams playing in USL so having those leagues is a major addition for developing youngsters and roster management. Uncle Sam's file also included youth leagues for academies, plus NCAA teams that made draft more realistic. The whole structure (including Canadian Premier League) just made the experience much more dynamic and immersive imo.

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1 hour ago, kandersson said:

Most MLS clubs have their B teams playing in USL so having those leagues is a major addition for developing youngsters and roster management. Uncle Sam's file also included youth leagues for academies, plus NCAA teams that made draft more realistic. The whole structure (including Canadian Premier League) just made the experience much more dynamic and immersive imo.

Ah I see, I see some people have implemented two of the leagues below MLS for this years version. Have you used them?

 

Also whats your experience with managing in the MLS, Ive watched Uncle Sams youtube tutorial videos and it makes me think i shouldnt fall into any of the salary issues others have had. Is their anything else i should look out for or be aware of?

Edited by francis#17
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35 minutes ago, francis#17 said:

Ah I see, I see some people have implemented two of the leagues below MLS for this years version. Have you used them?

 

Also whats your experience with managing in the MLS, Ive watched Uncle Sams youtube tutorial videos and it makes me think i shouldnt fall into any of the salary issues others have had. Is their anything else i should look out for or be aware of?

For me it's all about amassing Allocation Money and International slots, this way you can buy down salary impact and sign quality foreign players (mostly free agents). AI seems to value draft picks so I tend to use them a lot in trades (for this reason amassing picks is also a good idea). Tbh it gets quite easy with a bit of experience, as others have already said the AI simply can't handle the salary cap rules which gives human players all kinds of advantages with squad building and roster management. I'd love playing a long term save in MLS, but it's hard not to lose interest after a couple of seasons when AI struggles so much. It's been like this for a few years now, I think a mod removing salary cap could be the only long term solution for these issues.

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1 hour ago, kandersson said:

For me it's all about amassing Allocation Money and International slots, this way you can buy down salary impact and sign quality foreign players (mostly free agents). AI seems to value draft picks so I tend to use them a lot in trades (for this reason amassing picks is also a good idea). Tbh it gets quite easy with a bit of experience, as others have already said the AI simply can't handle the salary cap rules which gives human players all kinds of advantages with squad building and roster management. I'd love playing a long term save in MLS, but it's hard not to lose interest after a couple of seasons when AI struggles so much. It's been like this for a few years now, I think a mod removing salary cap could be the only long term solution for these issues.

How comes you dont play with any mods that remove salary caps so that you can do a long term save, is it because it takes away from the realism?

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3 hours ago, francis#17 said:

How comes you dont play with any mods that remove salary caps so that you can do a long term save, is it because it takes away from the realism?

I'm not sure such mods exist? I think most MLS rules are hardcoded and cannot be edited, I guess you'd have to rebuild the league from scratch and probably lose a lot of specific MLS features (type of contracts, trades, picks, expansion drafts, Superdraft etc). Those are the things that make MLS interesting to play, I'd remove the salary cap just to give AI a chance to be remotely competitive.

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There are some issue at the moment in regards to playing in the MLS. Whether you're playing in the MLS with the Salary Cap, or playing as a different team with MLS loaded (playing or read only).

  •  MLS teams will bid for your players in the transfer window. You'll accept the bid but the deal won't go through until e.g. February or March. Come that date, the deal never goes through and is cancelled.
  • MLS teams signing players for a fee, then releasing them a few days after signing them as they have too many players that don't meet the MLS restrictions.

Many of these bugs come down to the international player restrictions or salary cap.

As a manager in the MLS, if you read the rules of the competition - MLS > Competition > Rules - you may gain an insight as to how it may work. Unfortunately, there is no help. You will make mistakes and learn from them on your way in regards to the salary cap and international player restrictions. 

It's a broken league but can't help but laugh when an MLS team pay £3m for one of your subs who rarely plays, then releases him. Then you resign him and resell him in 6 months. Easy way to make money.

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I read the complaints about the AI being really bad in MLS, but for some reason in my save, which lasted around eight or nine seasons, the AI did a decent job. There was one year where a bunch of good players ended up being waived by teams, but that was an aberration.

I played MLS in FM20, things could have changed, but I found it to be pretty frustrating and probably won't  go back. The best reason to play MLS is to learn just exactly how effed up are the MLS roster rules, and how they continue to relegate MLS to bush league status.

Here are a few observations I had.

- Forget using TAM. It is literally not possible, and I don't understand why.

- For many moves, it is almost impossible to tell exactly how it will affect your salary cap until you make it. There are some unexpected results for the cap, in particular when it comes to roster moves involving off-budget players. Acquiring such a player can bump one of your previously off-budget guys on-budget, and vice versa getting rid of an off-budget player can perversely help your salary cap by moving someone from off-budget to on. Also, transfer fees affect your cap hit. I also found it unpredictable how much of the cap hit I could ultimately buy down.

- You can use GAM to buy down the cap hit of player's salary, but I found many instances in the game where you were not allowed to do it. As an example, the game wouldn't allow you to buy down any player's salary who was on a home grown contract. I had Nick Lima earning something like $278k, I should have been allowed to buy it down but was never allowed.

- There is no good option for loaning out players, so player development can be a challenge.

- Draft picks are wildly overvalued by an order of magnitude. IRL this year first round draft picks were being traded for as little as $50k of GAM, but in the game the same pick would be valued at $500k. I don't think I ever developed a draft pick into a decent player. In other words, draft picks are like cigarettes in prison -- not really useful aside from currency.

 

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On 15/02/2021 at 22:30, fivetwelvepony said:

Here are a few observations I had.

- Forget using TAM. It is literally not possible, and I don't understand why.

- For many moves, it is almost impossible to tell exactly how it will affect your salary cap until you make it. There are some unexpected results for the cap, in particular when it comes to roster moves involving off-budget players. Acquiring such a player can bump one of your previously off-budget guys on-budget, and vice versa getting rid of an off-budget player can perversely help your salary cap by moving someone from off-budget to on. Also, transfer fees affect your cap hit. I also found it unpredictable how much of the cap hit I could ultimately buy down.

- You can use GAM to buy down the cap hit of player's salary, but I found many instances in the game where you were not allowed to do it. As an example, the game wouldn't allow you to buy down any player's salary who was on a home grown contract. I had Nick Lima earning something like $278k, I should have been allowed to buy it down but was never allowed.

- There is no good option for loaning out players, so player development can be a challenge.

- Draft picks are wildly overvalued by an order of magnitude. IRL this year first round draft picks were being traded for as little as $50k of GAM, but in the game the same pick would be valued at $500k. I don't think I ever developed a draft pick into a decent player. In other words, draft picks are like cigarettes in prison -- not really useful aside from currency.

 

I'll try to help you:

- do you actually need TAM? Which is the specific problem: you can't low the weight of a DP contract like you do by using GAM for Seniors? Tbh after few seasons TAM becomes useless. I'm currently managing DCU in 2024, and I still have 20k (weekly, in €) out of 105k to be spent with only 2 DP (1 YDP + 1 DP) and never touched the TAM in 2 seasons I'm managing Washington.

- usually you low the cap by the value of the specific salary of the traded player. If you go to the Registration tab and set the list on Contracts you should have all the info, like the actual wage, the weight on the cap, if it is guaranteed and the contract type. About the transfer fees, you receive 25% in GAM of the value of the transfer (example: 1 million of transfer, you receive 250k in GAM) but that is only for players you sell abroad.

- Home Grown Status usually already helps you to low the weight of the contract automatically. Check the registration tab.

- I agree on loans. You may solve it by having affiliations with other teams tho.

- Not a big fan of draft picks, but what I hate of those are the GA contracts. Anyway, you''d better look for double nationality players (like Sonora, American and Argentinian) since draft picks are usually a loss of time because of the player's level.

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On 16/02/2021 at 16:05, Gaaabs said:

I'll try to help you:

- do you actually need TAM? Which is the specific problem: you can't low the weight of a DP contract like you do by using GAM for Seniors? Tbh after few seasons TAM becomes useless. I'm currently managing DCU in 2024, and I still have 20k (weekly, in €) out of 105k to be spent with only 2 DP (1 YDP + 1 DP) and never touched the TAM in 2 seasons I'm managing Washington.

 

You sound like an IT guy. Blame the user. Yes, you actually need TAM. You use it to buy down a DP to below DP salary. That way you can get another DP. Or you can use it to acquire a player making between $500k and $1m. A number of times I'd be at 3 DPs, one making only a bit above the max amount. I had plenty of TAM, and would like to buy down the salary to convert the guy to non-DP, but couldn't 

Quote

- usually you low the cap by the value of the specific salary of the traded player. If you go to the Registration tab and set the list on Contracts you should have all the info, like the actual wage, the weight on the cap, if it is guaranteed and the contract type. About the transfer fees, you receive 25% in GAM of the value of the transfer (example: 1 million of transfer, you receive 250k in GAM) but that is only for players you sell abroad.

I mean know how the he impacted the cap *after the transfer*. I found it difficult to predict before the transfer, and usually left a buffer.

Quote


- Home Grown Status usually already helps you to low the weight of the contract automatically. Check the registration tab.

As I remember it, his salary counted against the cap because I had more off-budget players than slots, so some of the off-budget players actually counted. 

 

 

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So this thread inspired me to fire up an old abandoned MLS save, and I'm zipping through the first season. Despite careful study, I hit a snag with the rules. Maybe you MLS smart guys can answer a question for me. When is the domestic trade deadline? 

In the game today is September 11, 2020. I just got this email:

image.png.c82b5d68a64460d0c41ffa305d150669.png

Here is the section from the MLS rules page:

image.png.e9758abfb7e249007be8018d48b696cb.png

My right back is out injured, so I went out and traded for a right back from LAFC. But the game will not let me register the player. Furthermore, on the team registration page, right up at the top, it says:

image.png.7c0a46c6e91c5d205938ee8a54f1af22.png

This suggests that I won't be able to register players again until December 13, despite still being within the domestic transfer window. Any clues as to what's going on?

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I have one other complaint about MLS in FM20. There is an unrealistic amount of fixture congestion. Check out this schedule for my team this season. Two of those games against NYCFC are North American Champions League, the rest are league games! From 3/31 to 4/21, a stretch of 22 days, there are 8 games, all away, and four times with just a single day break between games.

 

image.png.360a402c4cb980900b7ec61393257376.png

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13 hours ago, fivetwelvepony said:

I have one other complaint about MLS in FM20. There is an unrealistic amount of fixture congestion. Check out this schedule for my team this season. Two of those games against NYCFC are North American Champions League, the rest are league games! From 3/31 to 4/21, a stretch of 22 days, there are 8 games, all away, and four times with just a single day break between games.

 

image.png.360a402c4cb980900b7ec61393257376.png

Post this in the league specific issues thread for the USA, will be seen there mate

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1 hour ago, francis#17 said:

The new update should hopefully fix the issues noted in this thread

I hope so, but I wouldn't hold your breath. The MLS in FM has had fairly major issues for years. SI do keep trying, but it's so unique that it's very hard to get right.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi! Apologies, I'm new to managing in MLS and I have my team roster ready for the new season. In the team register though, I am carrying too many "non-reserve and non-homegrown off-budget players". I'm slightly confused on this, because I am happy for them to be counted On-budget, because I only have 24 total players in the roster and have only used 43k of my 78k cap.

355242426_Screenshot2021-03-26at11_50_24.png.4cefd982f9fedc965db8a8ef59c3275d.png

My question is, will this stop me registering my roster? Is there any reason it is including too many off-budget players than it needs to? I'm just a little confused about the whole thing - lol.

Any advice gratefully received.

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