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The Montreal Impact will have no shortage of quality players from which to choose when Wednesday's 2012 MLS Expansion Draft is held at 2 p.m. Eastern via conference call. Among the available players will be seven Designated Players, the league's all-time leading scorer and any number of players who earned significant roles with their teams last year.
Among the more surprising players to be left unprotected were the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, both of the Colorado Rapids starting full backs on their 2010 MLS Cup winning team and the league's fourth-leading goal scorer. In some cases, teams were making pretty obvious gambles that the Impact would not be interested in picking their high-priced player. But the reasoning was not quite as clear with others.
Here are some of the more surprising players to be left unprotected:
Zarek Valentin: The Chivas USA defender made 24 starts and played the fourth most minutes on the team as a rookie after being the No. 4 overall pick. He did graduate from Generation adidas this year, though, so his full salary will be on the books next year. Last year, he made more than $130,000 in guaranteed salary.
Kosuke Kimura: The fullback was one of only two outfield players to start every game for the defending MLS Cup champions. He ended up with the third most minutes played on the team, but there are rumors that he may head back to Japan.
Sanna Nyassi: After being picked in last year's Expansion Draft and being traded to the Rapids, he had a breakout year. His five goals and five assists were the most combined points on the Rapids, despite playing less than 1,600 minutes. He also made just $42,000 this year.
Anthony Wallace: The Rapids fullback struggled with injuries this year, but when healthy he's young, cheap and good enough to have earn a U.S. national team cap.
Andres Mendoza: The Crew DP had his issues with the fans and coach Robert Warzycha, but he scored 13 goals. He's easily the best scorer available.
Paolo Cardozo: He was a bit of a Swiss Army knife for the LA Galaxy this year, making appearances at forward and at several midfield positions. He's young (22), cheap and has considerable upside.
Milton Caraglio: The New England Revolution presumably paid a decent amount of money in transfer fee to acquire him, since he was listed as DP despite a salary of less than $60,000. He didn't exactly dominate, but after scoring three goals and having two assists in 12 games, he seemed like a player the Revolution would want to keep around.
Freddy Adu: The Philadelphia Union midfielder never solidified himself as a starter, but showed plenty of promise. You have to imagine his salary, which could make him a DP next year, is what the Union are hoping will scare off the Impact.
Paulo Jr.: The Real Salt Lake forward was hurt much of the year, but at $42,000 he's one of the best scoring bargains available.
Bobby Convey: One year after winning the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award, he once again fell out of favor with coach Frank Yallop. He made more than $300,000 last year, but could be a nice piece for a building team.
A year ago at this time the Portland Timbers were preparing for the expansion draft by deciding which players they would like to take. This year, they've spent a season in MLS and need to decide which 11 players to protect to make sure they won't get taken. Ah, how times have changed.
Luckily for the Timbers, it doesn't look they really need to put much thought into their protected list. That's because they have reportedly worked out a deal with the Impact that guarantees nobody from the Timbers will be chosen. Well isn't that just peachy.
Unprotected List: Eric Alexander, Freddie Braun, Adin Brown, Michael Chabala, Bright Dike, Jake Gleeson, Kevin Goldthwaite, Eddie Johnson, Rodrigo William Lopez, Peter Lowry, James Marcelin, Ryan Pore, Steve Purdy, Chris Taylor, SpencerThompson, Brian Umony, Sal Zizzo
The San Jose Earthquakes are not a very good team and their protected list for the upcoming expansion draft makes that much very clear. Yup, that's Alan Gordon on their protected list. I'm pretty sure there's a league rule that if you protect Alan Gordon you are banned from the playoffs, not that they actually have to enforce that rule.
Interestingly, the Quakes chose to leave Anthony Ampaipitakwong unprotected. He struggled as a rookie, but was played out of position for much of the year and showed flashes when he got into his regular position. Ellis McLoughlin, a young player who looked good at times and is paid just $42,000 per year is also unprotected.
Unprotected List: Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Nana Attakora-Gyan, Bobby Burling, Bobby Convey, Ramiro Corrales, Joseph Gjertsen, Maxwell Griffin, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin, Jacob Peterson, Brad Ring, Scott Sealy, Tim Ward, Andrew Weber
If you ever caught yourself wondering where it all went wrong for the New England Revolution, you need to look no further than their protected list for Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft. Among the players the Revs deemed worthy of protection from the Montreal Impact were backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, as well as a host of relatively unexciting players like Stephen McCarthy, Sainey Nyassi and Chris Tierney. None of those players are necessarily "bad", but they are unlikely to draw much attention from the Impact.
The most notable player to be left unprotected is Designated Player Milton Caraglio, who was acquired via transfer. His stated salary was only $54,000 which suggests the Revolution paid a somewhat significant amount of money to acquire his services. He scored three goals in 12 games and could be a decent gamble for the Impact, depending on his contract status and his willingness to stay in MLS.
Protected list: Alston, Feilhaber, Joseph, Lekic, McCarthy, Nyassi, Reis, Shuttleworth, Soares, Tierney, Zerka. Automatically protected: Fagundez.
Unprotected: Barnes, Boggs, Caraglio, Cochrane, Coria, Dube, Guy, Kinne, Koger, Loewy, Mansally, Murray, Phelan, Schilawski, Sousa.
Peter Nowak must have a personal playbook somewhere that is strictly protected from the outside world because he keeps making decisions that seem odd on the face. His list of protected players for Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft is no different. Highly paid center back Danny Califf, as well as goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and midfielder Keon Daniel were among the more curious choices to make the protected list.
The most notable player not to be protected was Freddy Adu, who was brought in at no small expense. It's certainly possibly that Nowak is simply gambling on the fact that Adu is too highly paid to attract much attention from the Impact. But he has considerably more upside than someone like Mondragon, whose value to the Impact is almos nil.
As expected, Danny Mwanga graduated from Generation adidas and was protected.
Protected players: Califf, Carroll, Daniel, G. Farfan, M. Farfan, LeToux, Mwanga, Mondragon, Torres, Valdes, Williams. Automatically protected: Pfeffer, MacMath, McInerney, Okubo
Unprotected: Adu, Gonzalez, Harrison, Holder, Houapeu, Langley, Mapp, Miglioranzi, Nakazawa, Paunovic, Richter, Tait.
In a move that should not really surprise anyone, Toronto FC left Designated Player Julian de Guzman unprotected for Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft for a second straight year. Fellow DPs Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans were among the 11 players TFC chose to protect.
TFC also chose to protect two goalkeepers, Milos Kocic and Stefan Frei, as well as perpetually underperforming center back Andy Iro. In fact, several of coach Aron Winter's midseason acquisitions were protected, with Ryan Johnson, Eric Avila and Terry Dunfield joining the list.
Peri Marosevic, another midseason acquisition, "graduated" from Generation adidas and was promptly left unprotected. Aside from him, Nick Soolsma may be the most intriguing player left unprotected. The 23-year-old had three goals and five assists this season.
Protected list: Avila, Dunfield, Eckersley, Frei, Frings, Harden, Iro, Johnson, Kocic, Koevermans, Plata. Automatically protected: Cordon, Henry, Lindsay, Makubuya, Morgan, Stinson.
Unprotected: Borman, Bouchiba, Cann, Davies, de Guzman, Gold, Griffit, Marosevic, Martina, Omphroy, Soolsma, Sturgis, Viator, Williams, Yourasskowsky, Zavarise.
The 2011 season was a wild ride for the Houston Dynamo, who started slow, couldn't win on the road then caught fire and went all the way to the MLS Cup final. They lost in that final, coming up one win short of glory, and now they have to prep for 2012, where they hope to take the final step.
Houston's first step in prepping for 2012 is putting together their protected list for the expansion draft. Their list leaves big names like Brian Ching and Carlo Costly unprotected, but with Ching's high price tag and age and Costly's all-around underachievement with the Dynamo, neither is likely to be chosen.
When your team is as bad as the Vancouver Whitecaps, drawing up a list of the players you'd like to protect from the MLS Expansion Draft shouldn't be too hard. Still, the Whitecaps managed some head scratchers. Joining no-brainers like Davide Chiumiento, Eric Hassli, Alain Rochat and Camilo Sanvezzo on the protected list were guys like Long Tan and Carlyle Mitchell. Combined, the two youngsters played less than 700 minutes combined at the MLS level.
Meanwhile, relatively productive players like center back Michael Boxall and full back Jonathan Leathers was left unprotected. Boxall is a rookie who made 19 starts and Leathers is just 26 and made 21 starts. Clearly, new coach Martin Rennie must have had a say in these decisions and probably sees things a little differently than Tom Soehn
Protected list: Chiumiento, Demerit, Harris, Harvey, Hassli, Gerson, Tan, Mitchell, Rochat, Salinas, Sanvezzo. Automatically protected: Nanchoff, Salgado, Davies, Khalfan, Sylvestre, Teibert.
Unprotected: Boxall, Brovsky, Cannon, Duckett, Janicki, Jarju, Leathers, Morfaw, Nolly, Thorrington, Vagenas.
The Colorado Rapids were done in by injuries in 2011, ruining any chance they had at repeating as MLS Cup champions, but there was also that lack of good players and fighting between head coach Gary Smith and technical director Paul Bravo thing. Well, Smith is out and now Bravo is charged with putting together a roster with, well, more good players. First he has to keep from losing good players in the expansion draft though so he's picked his 11 to protect with Kosuke Kimura and Sanna Nyassi the most intriguing players unprotected.
Automatically Protected: David Armstrong (Homegrown), Josh Janniere (Homegrown)
Unprotected List: Andre Akpan, Miguel Comminges, Caleb Folan, Ian Joyce, Macoumba Kandji, Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Sanna Nyassi, Scott Palguta, Wells Thompson, Anthony Wallace, Eddie Ababio, Quincy Amarikwa, Steward Ceus, Stephen Emory, Mike Holody, Ross LaBeaux,
The New York Red Bulls are the beneficiaries of having three home grown players on their roster, allowing them to protect basically all of their good players. There shouldn't really be anyone on this list who is too enticing to the Montreal Impact, but to each his own. Who knows what kind of insane logic they'll use to justify the selection of someone like Mehdi Ballouchy. Here are the lists.
New York Red Bulls Available Players: Chris Albright, Stephane Auvray, Mehdi Ballouchy, Alex Horwath, Mychel Jones, Tyler Lassiter, Carlos Mendes, Brian Nielsen, Marcos Paullo, Carl Robinson, John Rooney, Frank Rost, Teddy Schneider, Greg Sutton
Can you see anyone on this list getting picked? Most of those players didn't even take the field in a league game for the Red Bulls, and none of them were consistently decent.
The Los Angeles Galaxy are MLS Cup champions, but they have to get back to work a day after winning the cup because preparations for 2012 have started and it begins with their submitting a protected/unprotected list for the upcoming expansion draft. All of the Galaxy's big guns are protected, including David Beckham, Sean Franklin and Juninho, all of whom might leave the team in the offseason now that they are out of contract, or in Juninho's case, his loan is up.
The Galaxy's list is almost exactly as you would expect it, except for Donovan Ricketts, who the Galaxy have chosen to protect. Josh Saunders took over the number one keeper role, leaving the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Ricketts on the bench, but LA decided to protect him anyways. This despite Montreal already having two goalkeepers and his trade value not being through the roof with his history of injuries and as a result the young and talented Paolo Cardozo is left exposed.
Automatically Protected: Jack McBean (Homegrown)
Unprotected List: Sean Alvarado, Chad Barrett, Chris Birchall, Paolo Cardozo, Adam Cristman, Leonardo, Frankie Hejduk, Hector Jimenez, Bryan Jordan, Daniel Keat, Miguel Lopez, Dustin McCarty, Brian Perk, Dasan Robinson, Michael Stephens, Ryan Thomas
Easily the biggest name left off Sporting Kansas City's Expansion Draft protected list was Omar Bravo. It's unclear if this is a a sign that Bravo has fallen out of favor with Sporting coach Peter Vermes or if it's simply a gamble that the Montreal Impact will not want to pick up the sizable contract. Jeferson, Sporting's other DP, was also left unprotected.
Among the players that might be of more interest to the Impact are fullbacks Seth Sinovic and Michael Harrington. Sinovic made 20 starts for Sporting after being acquired at midseason after being released by the New England Revolution. Harrington is just 25 and has played in at least 23 games in each of his five MLS seasons.
In what should not come as a surprise to anyone, Teal Bunbury "graduated" from Generation Adidas and was protected.
Protected list: Arnaud, Besler, Bunbury, Collin, Espinoza, Kamara, Myers, Nielsen, Santos, Sapong, Zusi. Homegrown Players: Ellis, Kempin.
Unprotected: Aiyegbusi, Bravo, Cyrus, Diop, Jeferson Harrington, Kronberg, Lorenz, Olum, Peterson, Rocastle, Saad, Sassano, Sinovic, Stojcev, Thomas, Warzycha.
D.C. United are a team that have the benefit of having three of their first choice players and four total players automatically protected due to homegrown player rules. This has allowed them to spend protected slots on a couple of fringe players, as well as Charlie Davies, who many don't believe will return to the squad next season. Here are the complete protected and available lists.
D.C. United Available List: Brandon Barklage, Branko Boskovic, Blake Brettschneider, Marc Burch, Steve Cronin, Austin Da Luz, Stephen King, Devon McTavish, Kurt Morsink, Joseph Ngwenya, Santino Quaranta, Jed Zayner
The likelyhood of D.C. United getting a player selected from the draft are perhaps higher than any team other than the Seattle Sounders. That unprotected list has multiple players who have proven they can contribute in MLS, many of them on low salaries.
The protection lists for the Columbus Crew - a likely new rival of the Montreal Impact - are out with only one major surprise. Nigerian international midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo was not protected by the Crew, many believe he is set to go overseas after this year anyways but it could be a guy that Montreal takes a risk on picking.
Of the surprised - if you want to call them that - would be seeing guys like Designated Player Andres Mendoza unprotected by the Crew. Also, striker Tommy Heinemann was left exposed, someone the Crew used frequently all season long.
Other than that the Crew had a lot of players that weren't totally vital going forward that had to be protected. A lot of higher contracts that you'd expect to be exposed going against some younger guys that are cheap.
Home Grown/Generation adidas: Aaron Horton
There weren't any big surprises with the Seattle Sounders' Expansion Draft protected list, but a fan favorite was left unprotected. Of the players really on their bubble, the Sounders protected Brad Evans, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle and Sammy Ochoa. That meant that there was no room to protect Mike Fucito, the forward who has excelled for the Sounders mostly in non-MLS action.
Also among the notable players left exposed by the Sounders were rookie Servando Carrasco, starting right back James Riley and both of their left backs, Tyson Wahl and Leo Gonzalez. Any one of those players could be enticing to the Montreal Impact.
Protected list: Alonso; Evans; Fernandez; Friberg; Hurtado; Montero; Neagle; Ochoa; Parke; Rosales; Zakuani.
Unprotected: Boss; Carrasco; Estrada; Ford; Fucito; Gonzalez; Graham; Ianni; Jaqua; Levesque; Meredith; Montano; Noonan; Riley; Sanyang; Scott; Seamon; Wahl; White.
Chivas USA don't look like a team terribly likely to lose one of their key players to the expansion draft, but they appear to be playing with fire a little bit with their protected list. The obvious players have been protected, but there are a few guys ripe for the picking. Here are the protected and available lists.
Chivas USA Available List: Sergio Arias, Andrew Boyens, Chukwudi Chijindu, Chris Cortez, Laurent Courtois, Elliot Simon, Victor Estupinan, Blair Gavin, Ante Jazic, David Junior Lopez, Michael Lahoud, Gerson Mayen, Marcos Mondaini, Mariano Trujilo, Zarek Valentin.
Michael Lahoud, Zarek Valentin and Blair Gavin are the players who jump out on the available list. All came into the league as hot prospects and while they haven't quite lived up to it yet, all are inexpensive Americans who certainly have talent. Chivas are probably 50-50 at most to have a player picked up by the Montreal Impact.
There were no major surprises on Real Salt Lake's expansion protected list, as the team clearly chose to protect their biggest contributors this year. Among the players that will be exposed when the Montreal Impact begin building their team in ernest during Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft are forward Paulo Jr., midfielder Andy Williams and defender Robbie Russell.
Any of those four players could start for many MLS teams and speaks to the depth of RSL's team. Of those players, Paulo Jr. is the probably the most affordable, as he made just $42,000 last year. His season was cut short by injury though and he only ended up playing 468 MLS minutes this year. He did score two goals and have four assists in that limited time.
The Portland Timbers have reportedly worked out a deal that will save them from losing a player in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft. As reported by OregonLive.com and alluded to in several Tweets from Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, part of the loan agreement that sent Ryan Pore to the Montreal Impact last July included a clause that would keep the Impact from taking another Timbers player. As part of that deal, the Timbers have also apparently agreed to send a international roster spot to the Impact.
There is a good chance that Pore could still end up with the Impact, as he saw little playing time during the 2011 season with the Timbers. Pore was originally expected to play a larger role with Portland after he was one of their first MLS signings. Pore had been one of the Timbers' top players during their final two seasons in the second division, and had scored 25 goals in 52 games.
For more insight and analysis of this trade, be sure to check out Timbers blog Stumptown Footy.
Ryan Smith had an outstanding first season in MLS, but fell out of favor with Sporting KC and has now been traded to Chivas USA.
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