After the way Toronto FC started this season, it is just a relief that they improved enough with the midseason overhaul that the club actually now has 11 players on the roster who are worth protecting. With Ashtone Morgan, Matt Stinson, Doneil Henry, Nicholas Lindsay, Oscar Cordon, Keith Makabuya already protected as Homegrown Players and Peri Marosevic being protected by his Generation Adidas status the club only has a couple of tough decisions to make.
The young players for the most part did not play too much of a role this past year but for the likes of Morgan and Stinson, regulars in the lineup for much of the season, it is great that they are automatically protected. In their 11-man protected list there are a few players who in my eyes are givens and they are: Torsten Frings, Danny Koevermans, Julian De Guzman, Eric Avila, Milos Kocic, Stefan Frei, Joao Plata and Ryan Johnson. That gives you 8 of your 11 spots filled and there is a bit more room for debate for the final 3 spots.
Including Richard Eckersley only makes sense if the club thinks they have a chance of bringing him back for next season but with him being so unhappy with Burnley there is a good chance of that. We also included Terry Dunfield and Adrian Cann since they are both very usable Canadian veterans who provide both depth and quality for the club. Of the two I would say that Cann is probably the most debatable as he is coming back from a long term injury and has had his share of issues with the club in the past year. With the team being so poor at center back though it is likely that keeping Cann around would at least help to improve that area if he can come back fit.
So then who does that mean is left unprotected? Well it means that the likes of Nick Soolsma, Andy Iro, Ty Harden, Nathan Sturgis, Dicoy Williams, as well as several others would be left exposed to Montreal. In the case of all these players, they are around the skill level that can be fairly easily replaced in the MLS as they should be nothing more than role players for the team come next season. For someone like Soolsma many TFC fans might be sad if he were to leave but he is an international so that slot might be better served elsewhere. The same case as was made for Cann could be made for Williams who was out much of the season with a knee injury but unlike Cann he is an international and because of that could be considered less worth protecting.
On the whole TFC now has 11 players worth protecting and a couple others worth debating including in the list so that is a good sign but at the end of the day they are still not a deep team by any means and chances are Montreal will be doing its picking from other clubs.
Projected TFC protected list: Milos Kocic, Stefan Frei, Torsten Frings, Danny Koevermans, Joao Plata, Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila, Terry Dunfield, Julian de Guzman, Richard Eckersley, Adrian Cann. Automatically protected: Oscar Cordon, Doneil Henry, Nicholas Lindsay, Keith Makubuya, Peri Marosevic, Ashtone Morgan, Matt Stinson.
Dave Rowaan is a Writer Extraordinaire at Toronto FC blog Waking the Red. Follow him on Twitter at @SoccerCanada. Be sure to check out SB Nation Soccer's live Mock Expansion Draft on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern.