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Who should RSL protect in the Expansion Draft?

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It’s everyone’s favorite time of year!

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 MLS Expansion Draft rules dropped today, and that’s got us thinking: Who should Real Salt Lake protect? Furthermore, who should they leave unprotected?

READ: 2016 MLS Expansion Draft rules, explained

Protected XI

1. Nick Rimando: There’s a little uncertainty here, certainly, but keeping Nick Rimando should be a priority.

2. Tony Beltran: Beltran has consistently been one of the best right backs in the league for several years now. There’s no reason to let him go.

3. Aaron Maund: Despite a recent injury seeing him out for likely the rest of 2016, Maund is easily one of our most important players. If you’d told me that I’d be angling to protect him two years ago, ahead of our last Expansion Draft, I would have been very confused.

4. Kyle Beckerman: He’s the captain, he’s the heart of the team, and there’s no reason to let him slide tackle his way on out of here. Let’s keep him around.

5. Sunny: This guy’s really, really good. An injury this year — a facial injury, no less — shouldn’t reflect poorly on him.

6. Yura Movsisyan: Yeah, no. He’s staying.

7. Burrito Martinez: I’d like to use a timely emoji here, but I don’t know which one. Oh well. Keep the man.

8. Joao Plata: Again. Keep him.

9. Jordan Allen: If he’s not on the senior roster, he’s not here. But if he’s on the senior roster, there’s no way we don’t protect him.

10. Demar Phillips: He’s turned into a very, very good left back for this team, and after his 2015, that’s important.

11. Luke Mulholland: I was one of those who expressed a fair amount of doubt about Mulholland’s future with this team earlier this season. He’s picked up very well from that and has had an excellent second half of the season.

READ: RSL’s 2014 protected list, explained

On the edge

Chris Schuler: If he is truly recovered, he’s again a best-of-MLS center back potentially. But do we take the risk that his injuries will scare off other teams, especially after he didn’t get snapped up in the MLS Re-Entry Draft late last year?

Jeff Attinella: He’s a good goalkeeper, that kid.

Olmes Garcia: After going through a bit of a hot streak, he’s back on the bench and simply not snatching up opportunities when they’re afforded him. He’s still good, but is he worth the cost to another team in the league?

John Stertzer: While he could be a good backup to Kyle Beckerman, he’s a player that’s not likely to be selected. He’s a backup at best, and with only a short expansion draft this year (five rounds!), teams aren’t likely to be looking for backup central midfielders if better players are available.

Javier Morales: I forgot Morales when I initially published this list, but here’s my hot take: I think this could well be his last season on the playing field.

Definitely won’t protect

Boyd Okwuonu: We may still have an MLS-caliber full back on our hands with Okwuonu, but he hasn’t shown it quite yet. That’s hard when he’s behind the likes of Tony Beltran, but it also means he’s unlikely to be a target.

Devon Sandoval: He hasn’t exactly torn it up in MLS, despite his good qualities, and he’s spending time on loan.

No need to protect

  • Danilo Acosta: HGP
  • Lalo Fernandez: HGP
  • Justen Glad: HGP
  • Phanuel Kavita: HGP
  • Omar Holness: Generation Adidas
  • Ricardo Velazco: HGP

We’d love to hear from you, too. Here’s a template so that we can all do things in roughly the same way in the comments.

Protected XI

[Player]: [Reason for protection]

...

On the edge (3–5)

[Player]: [Reason they’re on the edge]

Definitely won’t protect (1–3)

[Player]: [Reason RSL won’t protect them]