Less than 72 hours after MLS Cup 2010, the run up to the 2011 MLS season begins as the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps will begin to build their teams through the expansion draft on Wednesday afternoon.
For those new or not diehard MLS fans that have found their way here recently, the rules of the expansion draft:
-You are allowed to protect 11 of your players
-Generation Adidas and home grown players are automatically protected
-You must protect at least the number of international players you have minus three(I.E. FCD has 6 international players so they must protect three of them)
-If you have a player selected, you are allowed to protect another player.
FC Dallas protected list:
-Eric Alexander, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez, David Ferreira, Jackson, Kevin Hartman, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Heath Pearce, Brek Shea, Zach Loyd...Auto Protected players are Josh Lambo(GA), Peri Marosevic(GA), Andrew Wiedeman(GA), Bryan Leyva(HG), Ruben Luna(HG), Moises Hernandez(HG) and Victor Ulloa(HG).
FC Dallas unprotected list:
Eric Avila, Jeff Cunningham, Kyle Davies, Edson Edward, Bruno Guarda, Atiba Harris, Daniel Hernandez, Dax McCarty, Milton Rodriguez, Dario Sala, Jason Yeisley
Keep reading for analysis and a thought or two why Dax McCarty would be left unprotected
One thing to remember when looking at these lists is it's not just about protecting your best 11 players. It's a chess match You have to think about the future and also the odds of a player getting picked in the first place. Daniel Hernandez is a prime example of this. He's the team captain and anchor of the midfield so some might think he would be an auto-protect but there's no chance Portland or Vancouver selects a 34 year old d-mid that could be facing knee surgery.
Atiba Harris, Eric Avila and Jeff Cunningham are interesting names and any of those three could easily be picked in the first round. I hate to see Avila exposed and with his west coast history, don't be shocked to see him chosen. I think he's the first one protected if another FCD player is chosen.
Now the name everyone is talking about...Dax McCarty was shockingly left on the unprotected list. I wrote just yesterday that it looks like he is really becoming a leader on the team and now he could potentially be taken from FC Dallas for nothing...let's look at a few reasons why he may have been left unprotected.
If Schellas wants to transition to his preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation next season, there is no place for Dax in the lineup. We saw him get outmuscled by Jeff Larentowicz on Sunday and he simply doesn't have the physical abilities to play the defensive mid position like Schellas wants it. There's no doubt Dax is an above average MLS starter, but I'm sure Schellas seriously questions whether he can play the Daniel Hernandez position as it seems like Eric Alexander or Jackson are being groomed for that spot.
I'm pretty sure Dax will be making close to $175k next season while Eric Alexander makes less than half that. If Schellas truly believes Alexander is ready to start next season, then this move makes sense when you think that you need potentially two new forwards next season and they won't be cheap.
This is absolutely the least likely scenario to me. Dax and Schellas have butted heads in the past, but it seems that those problems are long gone and given Dax's clear devastation after the game on Sunday, I don't think Dax is anything but 100% committed to Dallas.
A calculated risk
FCD can afford to lose a player like Eric Avila much more than Eric Alexander given the system that Hyndman has Dallas in. In the end, I think it basically came down to whether you want to protect Alexander, Avila or Dax and Alexander has the most potential to play a premium MLS position, central midfield, at a premium salary while Avila and Dax are replaceable. You've got to think the only FCD players with a shot at being picked are Dax, Avila, Harris and Cunningham so it will be very interesting to see who is protected once the first player is chosen.
My biggest problem with not protecting Dax
The more I've looked at it and thought about it the more it makes sense to me why FCD can part ways with Dax in the offseason. However, it will be a huge disappointment to lose the ginger ninja for nothing at all. A player who has played for the national team just a year ago with a solid(but not huge) contract that is proven to be an above average MLS player. Trading him is fine, but you can't a give those guys away for nothing.
That's my .02 on the expansion draft, what's yours? Did Schellas protect the right players and did I miss a reason why Dax would be left unprotected?