Chivas USA had an improved season in 2011, but it was by no means flawless. The team has a core of players who will certainly be back next season and will therefore be protected in the expansion draft. The spine of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, defender Heath Pearce, midfielder Nick LaBrocca, and forward Justin Braun are all key players moving forward, so their inclusion in the protected list was obvious.
I also believe Ante Jazic will be protected, as he had a very good season with the Goats and as a native of Eastern Canada could be selected by Montreal for marketing, as well as on-field reasons. Additionally, forward Alejandro Moreno is well-liked and will likely be back with the team next year, and as a veteran professional in MLS could be a useful selection for a new MLS club, so he will most likely be protected. Finally, Ben Zemanski and Michael Lahoud should be protected, as they are at worst good squad players and could turn into good starters on Chivas.
The big question is which players will be protected beyond the first eight. With a minimum of three international players who need to be on the protected list, I struggled with the three selections. In the end, I picked recent signings David Junior Lopes and Laurent Courtois, as I think each player is in Coach Robin Fraser's plans moving into 2012. And I included Marcos Mondaini, who had a season full of ups and downs, but appears to have enough upside to hold onto. However, that means that Juan Pablo Angel is unprotected. I'm really not sure if Chivas will resign him for 2012, and if he is left unprotected, obviously Chivas will not want him or will want him at a much lower salary. He will probably be the biggest question mark when the official protected list is revealed. If Angel's on the list, I would expect Mondaini to be left unprotected.
Full projected protected list: Justin Braun, Laurent Courtois, Ante Jazic, Dan Kennedy, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Lahoud, David Junior Lopes, Marcos Mondaini, Alejandro Moreno, Heath Pearce, Ben Zemanski