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Real Salt Lake's protected list for the expansion draft, explained

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We've all been anxiously awaiting the Expansion Draft, and it's dropped in our laps today. Wondering why somebody made the list? Let's try to suss out why RSL has picked the players they have.

Nick Rimando: There's no way we don't protect the player we've been advocating for years is the best goalkeeper in MLS. He was, is, and will continue to be fantastic.

Tony Beltran: More than simply a capable right back, he's a key element in our team. But even if he were only passable, he'd still be worth protecting — otherwise we could find ourselves with only one defender in the offseason.

Chris Schuler: He's the best defender at Real Salt Lake, and he'll probably be appearing for the national team in January. There's no sense in losing Schuler. At all.

Kyle Beckerman. Not only is he our captain, but he might be our longest-tenured player after Wednesday. (He's only five days off of that mark anyway.) His play has improved year after year, and it hasn't shown signs of stopping. He's untouchable in this squad.

Luke Mulholland. He's a midfielder a few years shy of when midfielders peak, and he's already developed into a strong player for this side. He was able to lock down a spot in a difficult midfield to learn and adapt to, and that should keep him here. It also makes him very appealing to New York City and Orlando City.

Luis Gil. His trajectory is still very, very high, and if we manage to keep him at the club long-term, we could have a national team regular on our hands. He has some way to go to reach that point, but Gil is a motivated youngster that will want to improve on this season.

Javier Morales. Alongside Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, he's the last piece of the spine of the team that you can't just dump prematurely. He's been an important piece for us.

Sebastian Jaime. We only just signed him, and he's on a long-term contract. He's already shown that he can be a fantastic player for us, even if he's yet to score a goal. We'd be insane to not protect him.

Joao Plata. I sure hope this one is obvious. Plata was one of our best players last year. He was pretty good the year before that. This year? Let's hope for continued improvement, because we'll be very lucky if that's the case.

Alvaro Saborio. He's got a few years left in him, and he's still an important part of the way we play. He's an incredibly useful attacker and we'll want him around.

Olmes Garcia. He wasn't as effective in front of goal last year as perhaps we would have liked, but he still represents significant potential and was the subject of a significant transfer fee.