After much thought and deliberation about the trade between Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City, we may have sorted it out. Sporting KC had six internationals on their roster at the end of the 2017 season: Daniel Salloi, Cristian Lobato, James Musa, Soni Mustivar, Tyler Pasher and Kevin Oliveira.
In the trade, they removed two of those and brought none back. Per Atlanta’s roster page, neither Tambakis (dual citizen) or Jones (green card) are listed as internationals. This has everything to do with protected slots for the expansion draft. Specifically the rule about protecting International players.
International player rules: Clubs are restricted in the number of international player(s) that they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players minus three, provided that if a club has three or fewer international players it may not make more than one international player available.
So if we at TBT are understanding that right, they now have four international slots used on the roster. The confusing part with whether Salloi being auto-protected counts in the total they protect or not is now removed.
Lobato, Musa, Mustivar and Salloi means they will make available no more than one international. Auto-protecting Salloi and on the protected list two of Lobato, Musa or Mustivar.
If Salloi does not count, then they still have to protect two of the three internationals, exposing one to the draft.
Most likely Musa and Lobato will be protect (Salloi on the auto-protect list) and Mustivar will be exposed (since his option was declined).
If this is correct (and with MLS who knows) then Peter Vermes is a genius. He basically traded away players he had cut for players Atlanta had cut and he gave up a second round pick in exchange for the ability to protect another player. We debated long and hard about who to leave exposed and now almost everyone of value is protected.
In the end SKC could still lose a quality player like Saad Abdul-Salaam but if not for the shrewd moves of Peter Vermes, they could have lost a much bigger player like Benny Feilhaber, Roger Espinoza, Latif Blessing or Diego Rubio.
The only thing that would have made it any better is if Vermes somehow traded Soni Mustivar away and then it could have chose to expose Lobato or Musa and protect a more valuable player. My pick, protect Musa since he can play defensive midfielder and center back and both of those positions lack depth. But alas, Mustivar’s expiring contract wasn’t traded.
We tip our hat to you Peter!
*This article originally incorrectly debated whether Salloi would count. As explained above, it doesn’t matter since SKC have to make at least one international available.