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Sporting KC Unveil MLS Expansion Protected List

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Botond Barath and Jimmy Medranda surprisingly left exposed.

Minnesota United clinch a playoff birth with a win against Kansas City Photo by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City put out their MLS Expansion Draft protected list on Saturday morning and there were a couple surprises. The biggest of note were that CB Botond Barath and utility man Jimmy Medranda were both left exposed. Literally no writers from The Blue Testament predicted this in our roundtable piece.

Here are the players the team chose to protect per SportingKC.com:

  • Goalkeepers (2): Tim Melia, Adrian Zendejas
  • Defenders (4): Matt Besler, Luis Martins, Graham Smith, Graham Zusi
  • Midfielders (3): Felipe Gutierrez, Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez
  • Forwards (3): Gerso Fernandes, Erik Hurtado, Johnny Russell

In addition, as we detailed before, Homegrown players are automatically protected. So the team didn’t have to use one of their 12 spots on Gianluca Busio, Cameron Duke, Tyler Freeman, Felipe Hernandez, Wan Kuzain, Jaylin Lindsey or Daniel Salloi.

The biggest two surprises on the list for me are the Graham’s. CB Graham Smith and RB Graham Zusi both are protected. Smith is a cheap and relatively young center back. And Zusi is a declining star who had one of his worst seasons in 2019, but still sells lots of jerseys.

Another possible surprise is Adrian Zendejas who three TBT writers predicted would be protected. That appears to be a ringing endorsement of him over Eric Dick as the backup goalkeeper.

Many fans and pundits wanted SKC to expose some high salary players that might be tough to trade. That didn’t really happen outside of Krisztian Nemeth who was likely to have his option declined anyways and Andreu Fontas who is unlikely to be picked. The deadline for declining options (like Nemeth’s) is November 21st.

Here are the list of players that were exposed per the team’s site:

  • Goalkeepers (1): Eric Dick
  • Defenders (5): Botond Barath, Andreu Fontas, Nico Hasler, Seth Sinovic, Rodney Wallace
  • Midfielders (3): Benny Feilhaber, Jimmy Medranda, Gedion Zelalem
  • Forwards (1): Krisztian Nemeth

Of those on the list, Medranda and Barath seem like the most likely to be selected. Zelalem is due a large raise (though it’s unclear how much) and everyone else other than Fontas can simply have their options declined and be off the team anyways.

The Blue Testament will bring you continued offseason coverage as it unfolds. We’ll have more thoughts on this list plus all the other happenings. The next thing coming up is the MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday, November 19th at 4:00 PM CT when Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will select up to five players each from the 19 teams who released lists today. Here is the complete list of players exposed for the draft.