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Is it too early to start thinking about the 2010 MLS expansion draft?

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So in the last week I have had several different people ask me about the expansion draft.  To be honest I hadn't thought about it much, since we have about 7 weeks to go before we are there and I would rather focus my attention on RSL getting back to MLS Cup, than what might happen.

That being said it is also really tough to know what the final rules will be, this is the first time since 2005 that two teams will join the league at once.  It is also going to be tough not knowing what the final details of the "reentry" draft for players out of contract will be like or be held.  It should be a bit easier when Portland announces (supposedly before the end of the month) who from their roster this year will be offered deals with them as they move to MLS.  I am not sure if Vancouver is going to do something similar.

Anyhow, I thought I would spend a few minutes thinking about it and put together some thoughts about the topic.  First I thought it would be interesting to look back at the 2004 expansion draft that laid the foundations for RSL and Chivas USA.  20 players in total were taken, each team could protect 12 players and when a player was taken the team that lost a player could move one more to the protected list.  Remember there were only 10 teams in the league then, there are 16 now.

RSL took: Andy Williams, D.J. Countess, Pablo Brenes, Brian Kamler, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown, Matt Behncke, Rusty Pierce, Kevin Ara, and Erick Scott. Of those 10 players, I believe 3 never made it to the 2005 opening day roster.  Also interesting Andy is still with the team, Kamler is turning into a good TV/Radio guy, and Nelson Akwari is playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

some more thoughts after the jump:

Until we know how many players each team is going to be able to select, and how many teams are going to be able to protect it is hard to make a list of who a team should protect.  We can look at the list of who RSL left exposed last year (remember we had a deal in place that with the trade of Chris Seitz to Philly that they wouldn't select anyone from our roster):

Alexandre, Jean
Campos, Pablo
El Khalifi, Rachid- no longer with team
Gonzalez, Nelson - 
Grabavoy, Ned
Horst, David
Mathis, Clint - no longer with team
Movsisyan, Yura - no longer with team
Reynish, Kyle
Russell, Robbie
Williams, Andy
Cox, Raphael - no longer with team
Nunez, Tino - no longer with team

So the rules last year were:

2009 MLS Expansion Draft Rules

Senior Roster

  • Teams may protect 11 players between their Senior and their Developmental Roster.
  • If the Player's contract expires at the end of 2009, he will still be considered part of the Team's Senior Roster.
  • If a Team protects a player, it is not obligated to exercise the player's option. It may renegotiate a new budget number for the player as in previous years.
  • If a player retires, he will not be a part of the Senior Roster, but his Team will lose its right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to play.

Developmental Roster

  • Players on a Team's Developmental Roster, other than Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2009 season and Home Grown Players, will be part of the expansion draft.
  • Generation adidas players (who have not been graduated at the end of the 2009 season) and Home Grown players are automatically protected (teams do not have to use a protected slot on them)If Philadelphia selects a Developmental Player it must offer him a Senior Roster position and he must be on Philadelphia's Senior Roster as of Roster Compliance Date.

International Players

  • Teams are restricted in the number of International player(s) that they may make available per the table set forth below.
  • For purposes of this expansion process, for US-based teams, any non-domestic US player would count as an International and forToronto FC, any non-domestic US player or non-domestic Canadian player would count as an International.

Designated Players

  • Designated Players do not have to be protected unless the player has a no trade clause in which case he must be protected.

Maximum Player Loss

  • Once a player has been claimed from a Team's non-protected roster, that team is eliminated from the expansion draft and may not lose any further players.

Right to Renegotiate

  • Philadelphia will have the right to renegotiate a drafted player's salary (either up or down) without having to place such player on waivers or giving his previous Team a right of first refusal.

Priority

  • On the first day of the Discovery/Allocation Period, Philadelphia will have priority over players who played professionally in the USL First or Second Division in 2009, subject to another MLS team's right of first refusal.

Rounds

  • The expansion draft will be 10 rounds.

INTERNATIONAL PLAYER PROTECTION REQUIREMENT TABLE:

  • Teams may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players minus 3, provided that if a team has 3 or less international players it may make available not more than 1.

So if the draft were 10 rounds, clearly some teams would have to lose more than one player, would MLS say that every team must lose one before a team can lose two?  Not sure that they would but it would seem fair.  I think the Fire ended up losing at least 3 players in the first 5 in 2004 and that was a bit unfair.  I think with the depth of 16 teams, the fact that both Portland and Vancouver are building from existing teams that 8 rounds would be fair with no team losing more than one player.  That would be fair to both the current and the new teams, but MLS has never really listened to what I have to say about anything.

In the end I will publish a list of the players I would protect, but with so many unknowns that isn't going to happen now.  Sorry it is too early to start thinking or worrying about the expansion draft, now is the time to focus on the final 2 MLS regular season matches, the final group stage match in Champions League, and getting to BMO field to defend our MLS Cup.

OFF MY SOAPBOX