On December 10th, MLS will hold the next expansion draft where Orlando City SC and New York City FC will be allowed to select ten players each from existing teams. Each team can protect 11 players,. There are some odd rules (it is MLS after all) and the official version can be read here.
Since there will be an expansion draft, the SBNation family of MLS blogs must of course run a mock draft. The results of the mock draft will be made public as early as Monday. Here is The Blue Testament's protected list of Sporting Kansas City players for that draft and the reasoning why.
Full disclaimer, this is my list based on what I think Vermes would do if the draft was held right now. I fully expect that his list of protected players will be different because there are deals in the works that he has not disclosed to me.
The first five players were easy. Guys that mean too much to the team, the city and just way too valuable to allow to leave in an expansion draft.
Matt Besler - DP no trade clause, hometown hero, captain, face of team
Graham Zusi - Recently signed as DP, would lose half of female fans if he left
Benny Feilhaber - Became the engine in the midfield
Dom Dwyer - Can't let a guy that puts that many goals in the net go easily
Aurelien Collin - He may not be back but too valuable to let go in expansion draft
The next three are still easy choices but a little less so. Valuable to the team still but not quite the same.
Seth Sinovic - SKC gambled once before and Montreal took him, too valuable on defense
Paulo Nagamura - Vermes loves him, warrior on the field
Ike Opara - Coming off injury but needed as backup in case Collin is traded
The final three are international players. Because of the number of international players on the roster at the end of the year, Sporting KC must protect a minimum of three.
Claudio Bieler - May be back, may not. Still worth too much to let someone have him for free
Jorge Claros - The only defensive mid still around, can't let him go just yet
Martin Steuble -. Vermes seems to really like him and was a tossup with Medranda
These players were automatically protected:
Jon Kempin - Future starting keeper
Kevin Ellis - Doesn't care about height, just plays his heart out everywhere
Erik Palmer-Brown - Future star if he does not go to Juventus
Mikey Lopez - Still on a GA contract
With the all too likely prospect of bringing in a keeper or two, those players would give a nucleus of a starting lineup, experience and valuable trade materials.
Who was made available and why:
The rules allow teams to protect another player once they have lost a player. I expected to lose either Saad or Sapong and would then have protected the other. If another player was taken I would protect Saad first.
Soony Saad - Never seems to be out of the Vermes doghouse for long
CJ Sapong - Has not produced or established regular start time
Igor Juliao - Off loan and any team that took him would have to negotiate with Fluminense
Christian Duke - still developing
Jimmy Medranda - talented but can't crack lineup
Chance Myers - Coming off Achilles injury, may never be same
Jacob Peterson - The "Answer" is a Vermes guy but could be replaced
Lawrence Olum - Mutual agreement to leave team
Eric Kronberg - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
Andy Gruenebaum - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
Tony Rodriguez Dovale - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
Sal Zizzo - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
Michael Kafari - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
Victor Munoz - SKC did not pick up option, not going to be protected
As mentioned above, I expect this to not be the list. There are too many moves in motion regarding trades and signings that we do not know anything official yet. It is expected that Roger Espinoza will be back but if it is in the winter window or when his contract is over in the summer remains to be seen.
Collin, Bieler and Saad are all possible, even likely trade bait and there is a trade window open the morning of December 8th so any of those players and others could be moved. The converse is true and a player of players could be brought in that have to be protected as well.