With a little over three weeks until the 2016 edition of the MLS Expansion Draft (this one in order to stock the cupboards of new MLS sides Minnesota United and Atlanta FC), the SB Nation runners-of-things asked each of their MLS sites, including us, to present a protected list for a mock expansion draft.
The deliberations that ensued behind closed doors were quite extensive, owing (a) to the general lack of intuitive ease of MLS’s roster rules and regulations and (b) your faithful staff may or may not try to sound more intelligent in our articles than we do in, you know, real life.
The full list of rules for the Expansion Draft can be found here, but the most important and relevant rules for our purposes are as follows:
Up to 11 players may be protected.
Homegrown Players on their first senior team contracts are automatically protected and thus do not have to be on the list of 11 (meaning that Erik Palmer-Brown and Daniel Salloi should both be automatically protected despite both spending the 2016 season out on loan, but Kevin Ellis and Jon Kempin, who are on their second senior team contracts, are not automatically protected).
Contrary to popular belief, Designated Players are not automatically protected and are not required to be on the list of 11 unless they have a no-trade clause in their contracts. Of Sporting’s players (designated or otherwise), the only player whom I could confirm has a no-trade clause is Matt Besler.
Teams with four or more international players must protect at least three of them. The international designation is a specific one—a foreign-born player with permanent US residency like, say, Roger Espinoza or Paulo Nagamura, does not count as an international player under MLS rules.
Still, despite the confusion that some of the rules caused (for example: right as this piece was going into the queue, we received word from the club that Salloi, despite being autoprotected as an HGP, did not also count as a protected international player), after our discussions, we arrived at a significant level of unanimity, and there were seven players whom the staff unanimously felt merited protection:
The votes for the final four spots on the list broke down thusly:
Diego Rubio: 7 (Eric Atcheson, Cody Bradley, Thad Bell, R.J. Clark, Jough Donakowski, Ben Gartland, Chad Smith)
Saad Abdul-Salaam: 7 (EA, CB, TB, RJC, JD, BG, CS)
Soni Mustivar: 6 (EA, CB, TB, RJC, BG, CS)
Graham Zusi: 4 (CB, TB, JD, Araceli Villanueva)
Jacob Peterson: 3 (BG, CS, AV)
Nuno Andre Coelho: 2 (JD, AV)
Kevin Ellis: 2 (EA, RJC)
Benji Joya: 1 (AV)
Based on our votes, then, The Blue Testament’s protected list would be as follows:
Who would make your list? Who do you think Minnesota and/or Atlanta might select from Sporting’s roster in next month’s Expansion Draft? Let us know in the comments.