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Why RSL has to protect a player it won’t bring back, and what the new protected list looks like

Real Salt Lake are in a real pickle of an expansion draft.

MLS: Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake agreed a mutual contract termination with Juan Manuel Martinez, and as a result, they’ll have to protect somebody they won’t be bringing back.

Wait, what?

Yeah. That’s what Craig Waibel told MLS reporter (and former RSL Communications staff person) Sam Stejskal, and trust me, it’s OK to be confused right now.

Why would any team protect a player they don’t intend to bring back? Well, it’s all about the MLS Expansion Draft rules, and one in particular that dictates how many international players must be protected.

This quote from Waibel — again, via Stejskal’s article — is instructive.

“So I’d like to see them revisit this, because I think the stages of this process are in the wrong order whereby we’ve already made decisions that impact the standing of the amount of foreign players we have on our roster. Many of our foreign players have green cards like I said, but we’re now going to be in a situation with the league rules the way they’re written currently, we’re going to end up protecting a player that we have no intention of having on our roster next year.”

So there you have it. The 2016 roster is what dictates how many internationals must be protected, and if you had more than three on the books, you had to protect three. Let’s break down our internationals from 2016.

  • Sunny
  • Demar Phillips
  • Emery Welshman
  • Juan Manuel Martinez
  • Omar Holness — Generation Adidas
  • Pedro Baez

Now, Olmes Garcia isn’t listed as an international, likely because he was on a green card. But that’s five internationals, and one of those players can’t be protected, even if the team had interest — Omar Holness is automatically exempt from being picked. However, he’s not exempt from the international rule, and that’s causing some issues.

Obviously enough, RSL will want to protect Sunny, and they’ll likely want to protect Demar Phillips. But Juan Manuel Martinez is out of contract, Pedro Baez is back in Paraguay, and Emery Welshman’s option was declined. Still, they have to protect three because of the state of the 2016 roster.

So, what’s that protected list going to be? We should revisit.

  1. Rimando
  2. Maund
  3. Schuler
  4. Beltran
  5. Phillips
  6. Beckerman
  7. Mulholland
  8. Sunny
  9. Plata
  10. Movsisyan
  11. ... Emery Welshman?

It’s a weird situation, really. If you were hoping that RSL could now protect Jeff Attinella — the lone unprotected, under-contract player I had on my last list — or, rather, keep both first-team goalkeepers protected, well, you’re out of luck, I guess.

At any rate, if you’re worried about RSL not having international players next year, Waibel isn’t.

And that’s of course early in the offseason, that’s not how we’re going to go into next season.

So there you have it.