Retention funds. Like Lyle Lanley and the monorail, it's the one phrase everyone has keyed in on from this afternoon's announcement that Graham Zusi's contract has been extended. The phrase is linked back to an April interview with Kevin Payne, but appears to be one of MLS' internal projects that never was officially announced.
Payne calls the Retention Fund a new program instituted by MLS which essentially is extra allocation money but that only can be used "to re-sign certain types of players. Needs to be younger players at a certain point in their contract. The idea is to help clubs keep guys in the league; promising players". (Link)
Graham Zusi was drafted by Sporting Kansas City in 2009, making his profesional debut that year. His career was already going in a typical MLS arc, training with West Ham United this offseason. It was easy to see Zusi on the Brek Shea career path, until the announcement this afternoon of the contract extension.
There are several other players that are on this part of their MLS career arc, who could have their trajectory changed by this retention fund. LA could hold onto Omar Gonzalez without making him a Designated Player, as Kansas City were just able to do with Zusi. A bonafide offer would at the very least retain his rights for LA.
It appears this retention fund was put together in order to hold onto the young players who saw lower tier German and Scandanavian sides as a step up in their career development. If Gonzalez does head to the EPL or the Bundesliga in the near future, A.J. DeLaGarza might see some retention funds in his future.