With the MLS Cup Final over, and the LA Galaxy crowned champions, it's time to move on to our next adventure. On Wednesday at 2 pm the expansion draft for the Montreal Impact will take place, consisting of 10 rounds where they'll have their pick out of 198 players. Before any of that happens all teams need to have their protected list of 11 players in by 5 pm today.
Everyone has been speculating for weeks who the Union will protect and who they'll roll the dice on. Best case scenario is we lose no one and worst case scenario is we lose someone good that we couldn't afford to protect. Where everything gets really interesting is that no one seems to know if anyone has graduated from Generation Adidas. Currently the Union have 5 players who do not need to be protected because of their Generation Adidas or Homegrown status: Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath, and Zach Pfeffer.
Last season MLS made it easy, and publicly announced the graduates seven days before the expansion draft. This year no such announcement has been made so we'll have to wait for the protected list to get an idea if anyone graduated.
The one thing most people seem to agree with is that Mwanga is the only player that is at risk for graduating and needing to be protected. Since the rules for GA are, well pretty unknown, as is just about any financial and contractual information for the league. I decided to look at the graduating class of 2010 to get some insight as to when someone graduates.
The class of 2010 included 11 players: Eric Avila (FC Dallas), Nico Colaluca (New England Revolution), Roger Espinoza (Kansas City), Stefan Frei (Toronto FC), Bruno Guarda (FC Dallas), Baggio Husidic (Chicago Fire), Fuad Ibrahim (Toronto FC), Chance Myers (Kansas City), Alex Nimo (Real Salt Lake), Ciaran O'Brien (Colorado Rapids) and Brek Shea (FC Dallas).
Here is what I came up with:
Frei graduated after two seasons compiling 4815 minutes in 54 games in which he started all of them for Toronto. Husidic also graduated at the end of his 2nd season with 1947 minutes in 32 games with Chicago which included 23 starts. These two players show that Mwanga with his 2996 minutes over two seasons including 52 games and 30 starts could definitely graduate.
Here are 2 other players which solidify that he could graduate but throws a little doubt in the equation:
Espinoza graduated after three seasons with SKC aka The Wiz amassing 3996 minutes over 63 games with 43 starts. Shea took three years although his first season only saw 17 minutes in two appearences. He totaled 2541 minutes over the three seasons in 46 games starting 28.
Avila, Guarda and Myers all took three years to graduate and put in less than half the time that Mwanga has in two years; 1292, 1272, and 1414 respectively.
Then I found something I didn't expect. Colaluca and Ibrahim were both drafted in 2007 which means they took four years to graduate. On top of that neither one is still in the league. Colaluca played in Colorado and then New England before getting loaned out to the USL2 side Western Mass for a total of 11 appearences in MLS. His option was declined shortly after he graduated and he went the whole way to the second round of the ReEntry draft before just settling for free agency. After spending some time in Sweden playing he returned to sign with NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks.
Ibrahim was supposed to be the next Freddy Adu. He was the second youngest player drafted next to Adu back in 2007. He appeared in 26 games over four seasons before being waived.
I was even more surprised when I found the numbers for Nimo and O'Brien. Nimo graduated after three seasons but it was over before it started. He never saw the pitch for RSL and was quickly loaned to USL1 side Portland Timbers where he appeared in 45 games. Unfortunately for him when Portland made the jump to MLS they declined an option to sign him and he was waived by RSL. He retired at the age of 20
O'Brien got a little bit more action in his three seasons. In his first and only game for Colorado he was shown a red card when he tackled Carlos Ruiz. He then did the tour of soon to be MLS cities loan program which saw him hit Seattle and Montreal with as short stay in Austin in the middle. After he was waived he also found his way to the NASL in Atlanta.
So what does this all mean... I have no idea but we'll find out soon.