Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United is facing allegations of violating MLS discovery rules in their pursuit of goalkeeper Josh Cohen, reported by GOAL. A representative for Cohen has raised concerns about Atlanta United's conduct in their efforts to sign the player.
In MLS, signing players without current affiliations involves a process called “discovery.” Each MLS team maintains a discovery list, allowing them to designate up to seven players for priority signing rights over other MLS teams.
Josh Cohen remains on Atlanta United's discovery list, and negotiations were underway after his contract with Maccabi Haifa expired this summer.
MLS regulations for 2023 state that when another MLS club expresses interest in a player on a team's discovery list and offers $50,000 in general allocation money for the player's discovery rights, the team holding the rights must respond promptly. They must make a “genuine, objectively reasonable offer” to retain the player on their discovery list within three days.
Atlanta United claims they made a compliant offer. However, Cohen's representative alleges that the offer undervalued the market. The complaint does not specify whether another Major League Soccer club offered Atlanta the required allocation money.
Cohen has requested the League to remove him from Atlanta's discovery list and declared his intention to avoid future negotiations with Atlanta United.
Atlanta United acknowledged the complaint but cited club policy in refraining from commenting on ongoing contract negotiations. Cohen remains eligible to secure a contract with an overseas club. However, for MLS, he will need to wait until the winter transfer window leading up to the 2024 season due to roster freeze deadlines for the 2023 season having passed.