With the 2017 Expansion Draft coming rather quickly, I thought I’d take some time and put together a protected list, along with some of my thoughts on why. Many of these choices are obvious, but some might provoke a little bit of controversy.
- Kyle Beckerman — You protect your captain. Plus, all signs point to him coming back in 2018. That’ll be great.
- Tony Beltran — I know a long-ish-term injury for Beltran at the end of the year might cause some hesitation for some of you, but I’d protect him without hesitation. When he’s fit, he’s one of the best full backs in the league.
- Justen Glad — Yeah. Obvious one, right?
- Yura Movsisyan — I know this will get me a little bit of heat, but hear me out: We have to protect him by Expansion Draft rules. This has nothing to do with being a designated player and everything to do with having a no-trade clause in his contract. If a player has a no-trade clause, they must be protected, end of.
- Luke Mulholland — OK, so this is probably a little controversial, but I do think we’d be OK if we lost Luke Mulholland. He’s a good player and I’d actually like for him to stick around — that’s a change from last year at this time for me — but I think we also need to upgrade at this position. He’ll work his tail off, though. I could switch him with Sunny and feel good about it, but I also don’t think either is likely to be picked.
- Joao Plata — Part of me actually wonders if Plata will be here next year, but again, you keep a player like him around as long as you can.
- Nick Rimando — Unless Rimando specifically asks to be left unprotected so he can go to LAFC or something, we protect him even if he’s not yet under contract.
- Albert Rusnak — Yep.
- Jefferson Savarino — Again: Yep.
- Luis Silva — Silva isn’t going to blow anybody away at LAFC, but he became a vital cog in our system last year. For that reason alone, protect him.
- Marcelo Silva — Yeaaah. Yep.
On the cusp
- David Horst — I don’t think there’s any reason to put Horst in the top 11, but it is worth mentioning that he was an important part of our second-half turnaround after an injury struggle early on.
- Sebastian Saucedo — I’m a bit torn here because I want Saucedo to stay here and develop, but I also think it’s difficult to find a place for him on this list. Like, really difficult. I also think it would be a huge stretch for him to get picked up, so I’m not too worried.
- Stephen Sunday — He’s a very good player and could be a longer-term solution to our DM position, but if you keep Beckerman, it doesn’t make as much sense to protect Sunny. I’d like to for him to stay, and I think he will, but I’ve found it very hard to decide here.
OK to leave unprotected
- Chad Barrett — There’s little chance a backup forward with a long injury history is a risk here.
- Nick Besler — One thing to know about the rules is that if a reserve or supplemental player gets picked up, they have to be promoted to a senior spot. That wouldn’t make sense for a player like Besler.
- Reagan Dunk — Dunk didn’t show enough in 2017 to get a serious look.
- Demar Phillips — Despite my missing him the first time I published this article, I wouldn’t be upset if he stayed. I don’t think we protect him, though — he’s a serviceable left back who’s likely to play a second-string role in 2018 if he sticks around.
- Justin Schmidt — Schmidt wouldn’t be the worst option for a club looking to bolster their depth, but again, a second-year center back isn’t the sort of player you want taking up a senior roster spot.
- Chris Schuler — I’d actually be (pleasantly) surprised if Schuler is playing at an MLS level next year. This will be one to watch.
- Connor Sparrow — I’m super excited about Sparrow, but it doesn’t make sense to sign him to a senior contract at this point. LAFC won’t even think about it. Plus, third-string goalkeepers are pretty easy to find in other drafts. They’ll be fine.
- Matt VanOekel — VanOekel has one year of MLS experience, and that year was plagued by injury. He’s not getting selected.
- Chris Wingert — Is this the year Wingert retires? We’ll soon find out.
The following players are listed as homegrown players on the MLS roster, or, in the case of Omar Holness, are Generation Adidas players.
- Danilo Acosta
- Omar Holness
- Ricardo Velazco
- Jordan Allen
- Jose Hernandez
- Brooks Lennon