Expansion Drafts are kind of a necessary evil in MLS. They are what they are but at least we know this year’s edition is going to be a little different when Atlanta and Minnesota get up to making their selections. There will only be one player potentially taken from FC Dallas and each club only has five picks.
The only potentially losing one player part is pretty big considering how in years past you could typically lose two players in a draft like this.
We plan on updating this list periodically between now and the draft. For now here is what we see happening come December.
Projected Protected list:
- Kellyn Acosta
- Tesho Akindele
- Michael Barrios
- Aubrey David (on loan)
- Mauro Diaz (DP)
- Maynor Figueroa
- Carlos Gruezo (DP)
- Matt Hedges
- Ryan Hollingshead
- Maxi Urruti
- Walker Zimmerman
- Coy Craft (Homegrown)
- Jesse Gonzalez (Homegrown)
- Aaron Guillen (Homegrown)
- Moises Hernandez (Homegrown)
- Paxton Pomykal (Homegrown)
- Victor Ulloa (Homegrown)
Three players most likely in danger
For me it comes down to a couple of guys right now that are in danger of being selected come Expansion Draft day. But thankfully all of them are aging veterans. Zach Loyd, Chris Seitz and Atiba Harris are currently on the outside looking in right now.
You could also throw in a Mauro Rosales to that mix but for now I think those three are the obvious candidates for any expansion team given their veteran leadership qualities. Though wilder things have happened in the past with Expansion Drafts and we could easily see Harris or Seitz get saved somehow.
I know this leaves the rookie legends in Timo Pitter and Colin Bonner but I can’t imagine a place where either expansion side would take them in this draft.
Homegrown statuses could change this up
First off, we don’t know officially what contract status we’re dealing with guys like Victor Ulloa and Jesse Gonzalez. Both could be promoted from the HGP status to the senior roster, similar to what we saw out of Kellyn Acosta.
If Ulloa or Gonzalez roll off the HGP status after this season, that could create a lot of tough situations for Fernando Clavijo and Oscar Pareja. I’d honestly protect Ulloa and Gonzalez over someone like Figueroa.
We hope to have clarification from Clavijo in the coming weeks on this matter.
About Fabian Castillo
As you’ll see from our projections right now, the big question mark is whether or not FCD opts to protect Fabian Castillo or not. I know he hasn’t exactly done anything special in Turkey so far on his loan but my gut still tells me the club ends up selling him in January, thus no protection. I think had the league kept the same rules as last time with 10 picks for each team it would be a different situation. I find it hard to believe Atlanta or Minnesota would gamble one of their five picks on a guy that they may not end up with.
Now should the team opt to protect Castillo in the event that they believe he is going to return that is all well and fine. In that case I think you see a Aubrey David fall to the unprotected list.
We shouldn’t panic
In years past I would have been worried about this draft but right now I am not. I know that is easy to do when I’m not the one making the decisions like Clavijo and Pareja. But in all reality, given the way this team has been built, the main core will be protected. The challenging part for this group really does come down to who actually gets exempt and who doesn’t. Even that isn’t as big of a deal when it is all said and done. Only having 10 players total being selected from all of the league makes me believe FCD is actually in a good position to not see anyone go right now.
Both new clubs may want an available veteran, which is fine as FCD has proven this year that they can replace just about anyone from within the league without issue (ie: Urriti, Figueroa and Rosales are prime examples).
It is a long way to go between now and December though, anything can change with injuries, form or even attitude of a player. We should be fine either way though.