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.