Just minutes ago, Sporting Kansas City unveiled their list of 12 protected players for Friday’s MLS Expansion Draft. There are some big names on the list and some information that can potentially be gained in who is on and who is not on the list.
First, the full list:
- Defenders (4): Kortne Ford, Logan Ndenbe, Robert Voloder, Graham Zusi
- Midfielders (3): Gadi Kinda, Erik Thommy, Remi Walter
- Forwards (5): William Agada, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Marinos Tzionis
In addition, seven Homegrown players were automatically protected: Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Kayden Pierre, John Pulskamp and Kaveh Rad.
What Does it All Mean?!
Potentially the biggest name not on the list is the team’s second longest tenured player, Tim Melia. There could be a few reasons for this. First, he’s a free agent so if St. Louis picked him, he could just re-sign with Sporting KC. Conversely, it could spell that SKC are ready to hand the reins to John Pulskamp. More insight should be delivered on that in the coming days when we find out who Sporting are in negotiations with.
Another indication from this list is Graham Zusi being on it surely means the team will trigger his 2023 option and he’ll be around. Then again, it could be a ploy, they decline the option and potentially renegotiate, but I don’t see that happening personally. There is also the possibility that Zusi has a no trade clause, like I speculated, and he had to be protected. I think Zusi gets at least one more year in Kansas City.
Speaking of defenders, there are several of them exposed. Andreu Fontas wasn’t protected, but he’s also out of contract and could just walk away from STL if they draft him. Nicolas-Isimat Mirin is on an option year and that decision to trigger or not trigger his option hasn’t been announced. This could be a sign that KC intends to move on from him. Then again, you can only protect 12 guys, so someone has to be left exposed.
The other two notable defenders are left back Ben Sweat, who came on strong at the end of 2023 and third GK Kendall McIntosh who made his first ever MLS start last year and looked outstanding. Those would be the two players I think are most likely to be selected (though only one can be picked off each team).
A few other names worth mentioning not on the list are Khiry Shelton and Roger Espinoza. Shelton has an option in his contract, like Isi this could be a sign SKC don’t intend to trigger it. Espinoza is also set to be a free agent, so he’d likely spurn St. Louis if they drafted him.
What do you think of the list? Let us know in the comments below.