It is clear that there are 24 players (plus) that Real Salt Lake believes deserve protection and that they want to keep on their roster for next year. 20 players saw MLS action for Real Salt Lake this year, and we are going to likely lose at least one player who will be missed by both the team and the fans.
But the harsh reality is that RSL can only protect 11 (and then 12) players in the expansion draft and while the status of Alex Nimo is up in the air there is a good chance that they will lose 2 players. This is a tough thing for a team that has such a close bond in the locker room and with the fans, RSL fans hate to see players leave. If you don't believe me just look at the support guys like Jamie Watson, Ian Joy, Raphael Cox, and others get on social media outlets from the RSL fans.
So making a list of guys to leave unprotected is a hard task for me, and I imagine even harder for the RSL staff, I find myself making reasons why everyone should be protected and in the end my list ends up being more a list of players I don't think Portland or Vancouver will take. After the jump I will offer up my list, with the reasons why I don't think they will be taken in the expansion draft (I know I will be wrong on some, but what can I do?):
This list is in no order (number of people who voted to protect):
- Andy Williams - (0) - The heart and soul of RSL, but at 33 it is unlikely that either new franchise will take him to build their new team around
- Jean Alexandre -(0) - He has all the tools to be a big time player, but he is still a project due to his lack of playing at high levels. I know many teams would like to have a player that could become a defensive force in their midfield, but expansion teams don't have time to develop raw players and Jean is still a year or two away from being a MLS level player on a daily basis.
- Robbie Russell - (0) - This is a big risk, Robbie is a hell of a nice guy and a solid player at a number of positions but I am hoping that while much attention has been focused on Olave and Borchers that Russell may fly under the radar, also his $120,000 salary is likely to scare off expansion team for a 31 year old player.
- Kyle Reynish - (0) - I am afraid that for a second straight year RSL may lose their backup keeper, both Portland and Vancouver have keepers they are happy with (Cronin in Portland, and Nolly in Vancouver) but Reynish proved this year that he can play and play well at the MLS level, and his salary is low.
- Tim Melia - (0) - Tim hasn't had anywhere near the exposure of Kyle but he is a quality keeper, just ask the folks in Charleston about him. I haven't been a fan of 3 keepers on the roster since the rosters were made smaller, but with a GM who is a former keeper it isn't a surprise.
- Rauwshan McKenzie - (0) - He finally started showing the potential many expected at the end of the year but when you can only protect 11, a utility central defender isn't going to be protected.
- David Horst - (0) - If you watched the Islanders play in US D2 this year, you know that David has developed into a real force on defense, and like many good central defenders he also has found a way to become a target player on set pieces. I fear that he may be a player that we lose.
- Pablo Campos - (0) -While he has seen limited action since joining RSL, and may need to take some ballet lessons in the off season (I actually think he would help his footwork a lot). Pablo is close to being a real difference maker but with so much depth up top, I just don't see a way RSL can protect him.
- Chris Schuler - (0) - I want to protect him, I think he will be the eventual replacement for Nat or Jamison but with just 11 spots I can only hope that his injury will scare off Portland and Vancouver from taking him.
- Chris Wingert - (2) - I thought Chris was much better this year but with a salary of $125,000 I don't think he will be taken.
- Nelson Gonzalez - (5) - I want to protect him but I have some real concerns about his durability, he has spent more time unable to play because of injury than he has been able to play. I don't think a new team is going to risk that, plus the tricky loan situations.
- Ned Grabavoy - (3) - Ned is a winner who has stepped up every time he has been asked to, but there are only so many spots and with a lot of young talent behind him, he becomes a bit more expendable.
- Robbie Findley - (4) - The contract situation is simply too volatile to protect a player who has been un-willing to commit to staying or going. I think he is waiting for a better deal but afraid to burn any bridges just yet and that might just cost him
- Luis Gil
- Alex Nimo
- Kyle Beckerman -(7)
- Nat Borchers - (7)
- Nick Rimando - (7)
- Jamison Olave - (7)
- Javier Morales - (7)
- Will Johnson - (6)
- Alvaro Saborio - (4)
- Paulo Junior - (5)
- Collen Warner - (3)
- Fabian Espindola - (4)
- Tony Beltran - (3)