It seems like most of the decisions Real Salt Lake have to make about who to protect in the upcoming expansion draft are fairly easy ones, but the mysteries of allocation money and a salary cap that often makes it hard to reward players for doing well, there are plenty of factors that go into making a list. One of the unique things about Salt Lake is that as a small market team there seems to be a more personal connection between the fans and the players, so leaving anyone unprotected is likely to raise the ire of more than just a few people. I think it took me about 5 minutes to make up this list, it wasn't about looking at who we can't lose, but rather if we lose them would the team be able to continue as a top team in MLS.
Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerwey built RSL along a core in the middle of the pitch, so including Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio are no-brainers. Beyond that it was simply protect the future with Will Johnson (23), Tony Beltran (24), Chris Schuler (24), Paulo Jr. (22). Leaving any of those young guys unprotected would be too big of a risk for the future of RSL. This means that you leave five players who provided at least 1,000 minutes of playing time each this year unprotected, the only upside is that Montreal can only choose one player.
Projected RSL protected list: Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Will Johnson, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio, Paulo Jr. Automatically protected: Luis Gil, Donny Toia, Nico Muniz.
Denzel "Denz" Eslinger is the managing editor of RSL blog RSL Soapbox. Follow him on Twitter at @RSLSoapbox. Be sure to check out SB Nation Soccer's Live Mock Expansion Draft on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern.