So I am a little droggy after just a couple hours of sleep but I thought while I wait on a couple things that I would look at the list of players available for the Philly Union to select from in their expansion draft. They can only take 10 players but I am going to pick one from each of the 15 teams and explain why I would chose them as a building block for a new MLS team.
As I have mentioned Philly is really starting from scratch, last year when Seattle started their picks they already had a number of pieces in place. Kasey Keller a world class keeper, Freddie Ljungberg a DP midfielder, a number of players from the USL Sounders squad, and loan deals in the works for Fredy Montero and JK Hurtado, so they were really just building on that foundation.
For Philly this will be their foundation that they will have to build on, and my first pick in the 2009 Expansion Draft is:
OK these are not really in order that I would take them but a little drama never hurt. I am going by teams:
Chivas USA- I was tempted to go with Chijindu, who I think could be an interesting player who is very creative but in MLS you have to start with your defense so I would pick Shavar Thomas, the 28 yr old defender is 6'1" and a tough guy to get around when your trying to get towards goal. He brings 150 MLS matches as experience to the side and I have always liked that he isn't afraid to get a little bit physical when need be.
Chicago Fire - Well it might be funny to take Blanco, but I doubt Philly has any interest in that sideshow. A solid defensive pick would be Segares, but I am going with a young crafty midfielder who can play on the back line when needed in the 25 year old Mike Banner. He has speed and has shown he can contribute to an offensive effort this year with 2 goals and 3 assists in under 1,000 minutes of playing time. He can play a few positions and as an expansion team that is an added bonus.
Columbus Crew - Well there are two good options here, if you want a keeper you might be tempted to take Andy Gruenebaum, he had a 1.20 gaa in 20 starts this year and the 6'1" keeper would be a solid start to a team. I however have to jump all over the potential star in 25 yr old forward Jason Garey, while 4 goals and 2 assists might not sound impressive to some it was enough to be 3rd in productivity on the Crew this year. Those number came from 705 minutes of playing time and just ask the RSL defenders if this guy is a threat or not.
Colorado Rapids - As much as I love to hate him I have to pick Medhi Ballouchy, he has talent and with 2 goals and 7 assists in the midfield he could be a great player to build around. I wouldn't expect him to be much of a leader on the pitch but he has talent.
FC Dallas - At 33 yrs old it might be hard for a new side to pick Dave Van den Bergh, but if you want creativity and skill then you pick him and hope for 2 more years of a guy who brings double digit assists on a regular basis, I wanted him for the RSL roster last year when he was leaving New York and if I were building a team I would take him. If not one has to think that while he had an off 2009 that Andre Rocha would be a solid pick, the 25 yr old midfielder from Brazil has shown great creative potential over the last couple years, but I would go with Dave.
DC United - I am tempted to say I want nobody from this team that had so much potential but failed to capitalize and missed the MLS playoffs for a second straight year. I am going to take a risk on this pick and hope that 23 yr old Ange N'silu is healthy next year, the potential upside is simply too attractive not to go for.
Houston Dynamo - If you can convince him to stay in the US, you have to pick Ricardo Clark and while you will miss him during the World Cup matches he is a defensive monster in the midfield and having a USMNT player on your squad has to help out. If you can't convince him to stay then you take a safer pick in Michael Chabala, the 25 yr old 6'0' defender was solid with over 1,000 minutes of playing time this year and could provide a young stallion for the back line.
KC Wizards - You will be doing this player a favor to get them out of their baseball stadium home, and while a 35 year old keeper might be a risk in some drafts Kevin Hartman played every minute of every MLS match for the Wiz in 2009 and posted a 1.40 GAA on a bad team. He is a rock and one of the best people and keepers in the league. Give him a shot at a new start, it did wonders for Keller in Seattle.
LA Galaxy - Josh Saunders, after his gritty performance on Sunday, I take the 28 year old who came on for a hurt Ricketts and almost won the MLS Cup after making big saves against Kyle Beckerman and Andy Williams in the PK shoot out.
New England - With all the injuries one has to be a bit fearful to take anyone from the Rev's roster but there are two guys I would pick first is the ginger terror Pat Phelan a tough and gritty player who can play a holding/defending midfield or back on defense. I however go for a young Amaechi Igwe who at just 21 years of age looks like he could be a big time defender for years to come. At 6'0" he is solid with good speed and has been exposed to a lot of quality training and done well with limited minutes.
New York - I know this is rude but I can't find anyone I would use a pick on from the exposed Red Bulls roster, maybe Jorge Rojas if you thought he was going to live up to the potential but he could be very pricey to keep around.
Real Salt Lake - It really depends on what type of a formation and style you are going to play. If you want a great outside guy who can deliver the ball into dangerous places you might want Rachid El Khalifi. If you want a big target forward you look at Pablo Campos, a solid defender who can play 5-6 positions and responded to huge pressure to score the winning PK in the Cup match in Robbie Russell? I am going to shock you by saying I take Tino Nunez, he is a young guy with good speed and a great first touch, the young striker simply needs minutes to develop into a solid contributor on offense.
San Jose - I take Shea Salinas, the 22 yr old midfielder has been on the edge of a breakout in his career and perhaps a new start would be just what it would take. He is speedy and good on the ball, he has had 2 goals and 5 assists in under 2,000 minutes of playing time in his first two years in the league.
Seattle - I would take Mr. Expansion draft in James Riley, it would be the third time James had went to a new team (From NE to SJ in 2007, to Seattle in 2008) but the 5'10" defender is quick and tough and has almost 10,000 minutes of MLS experience, he even added 4 assists this year for the Sounders. Riley is gritty too he has 22 yellows in his career and 4 ejections, but he will add some firepower to your back line.
Toronto - So the first thing Preki had to do in charge was make the list of who not to protect, and for me I would jump at the chance to add either Pablo Vitti, the 24 yr old Argie who showed moments of flash in the 2009 campaign with 2 goals and a single assist but has a huge upside. You could also take pure forward Ali Gerba, the 28 yr old has a ton of talent but saw limited playing time for TFC this year. I would go with Vitti, Argies do well in MLS.
Wow there is some great talent in the group available, for me it would be a mix of youth and experience with a little risk tossed in. You have to start on defense and I would start in goal with Kevin Hartman, a new start, a new stadium, a brand new team might be enough to keep him around a couple years.
OK, time to get moving as it is celebration day
OFF MY SOAPBOX
We Are The Champions