Way back in September — if you can remember that far — we started wondering who Real Salt Lake should protect in the MLS Expansion Draft.
Okay, that’s only kind of a lie. To be honest, everyone’s been wondering since, well, January. Inevitably, RSL fans get a bit nervous around these expansion drafts. Can you blame us? Probably, but please don’t.
Here’s what our protected list looked like in September, annotated with reasons that might or might not change.
September expansion draft protected list
- Nick Rimando — Do you protect a 36-year-old goalkeeper who’s been rumored to be a target for Atlanta? Or do you execute a trade beforehand for a bit more value than the $50,000 allocation money we’d be due if he were selected? This is a tough one, but Atlanta brought in Sean Johnson. Maybe that answers this one for us.
- Tony Beltran — Of course you protect him.
- Aaron Maund — If you can wrap up a contract, protect him. If you can’t, I guess it’s time to let him go. I think we will — after all, he’s still doing events for the club. There’s no reason to think there’s anything amiss here, aside from maybe a bit of brinksmanship.
- Kyle Beckerman — Yep.
- Sunny — Uh-huh.
- Yura Movsisyan — This is getting silly.
- Burrito Martinez — Hard one, this. There are rumors floating about him being on his way out, and if he does go, there’s no need to protect. If he doesn’t, protect him. If he’s on the edge, protect him anyway.
- Joao Plata — You keep the kid.
- Jordan Allen — He’s going to drop off this list, because we later learned that he likely won’t need protection. Now, he is on a new contract, so that may bump him off of the supplemental roster, which would require his protection.
- Demar Phillips — We just brought him back, so sure, keep him.
- Luke Mulholland — Again, keep him, seeing as you offered him a new contract.
Updated protected list
Without too much further ado, here’s my updated list — again, there’s a lack of certainty here, but you know what? That’s just the nature of it.
- Rimando — I don’t think he needs protecting, but the optics of leaving him unprotected after the Morales incident last month might be too much for fans to handle.
- Maund — Again, this hinges on his contract.
- Schuler — New on the list because of Allen’s absence, I’d protect Schuler here partly because there simply not much reason to protect some of the other players on the roster. The other part? If he’s going to be injury-free, he’s a starter in this league.
- Beltran — Great right back, unprotected? No way.
- Phillips — He’s back, so make that certain.
- Beckerman — Captain. That’s all.
- Mulholland — You don’t give him a new contract, only to let him walk.
- Sunny — This guy’s pretty good, I heard.
- Martinez — Sure. Protect him. There’s no reason not to, really, no matter what happens.
- Plata — Yeah, like we’d leave Plata — now a non-designated-player — unprotected. Suuuure.
- Movsisyan — Yeah. No.
That leaves our unprotected list looking like:
- Jeff Attinella — Backup goalkeeper, unlikely to be picked. Switch him out with Rimando, if necessary.
- Javier Morales — We all know how this one ended.
- Jamison Olave — He’s said he’s leaving the club, and we declined his option.
- Devon Sandoval — He’s out of contract and unlikely to be selected.
- John Stertzer — RSL didn’t exercise his option.
- Emery Welshman — RSL also didn’t exercise his option.
- Chris Wingert — He’s out of contract and, if memory serves, a free agent, should he choose to explore that option.
- Pedro Baez — He’s back in Paraguay and his buy option wasn’t exercised
- Olmes Garcia — His option was declined.
- Boyd Okwuonu — His option was also declined.
What a list, right? RSL’s protected list writes itself. This has us protecting nearly everyone we have under contract. That’s ... unusual — and perhaps a little harrowing.
For posterity, here’s the exempt list I’ve been operating with.
- Lalo Fernandez (HGP)
- Justen Glad (HGP)
- Jordan Allen (HGP)
- Danilo Acosta (HGP)
- Phanuel Kavita (HGP)
- Sebastian Saucedo (HGP)
- Ricardo Velazco (HGP)
Omar Holness (GA)