The Expansion Draft: A Broken System?

SANDY, UT-MAY 8: Nat Borchers #6 of Real Salt Lake trips Shea Salinas #11 of Philadelphia Union during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Rio Tinto Stadium May 8, 2010 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Set to begin another salary cap-governed year in Major League Soccer, one would expect a bit of turnover for every team. After only two full seasons of existence, 54 players have graced the Philadelphia Union roster (55 if you include Danny Cepero's one-game emergency goalkeeping bench stint), and only 5 remain of the original cast. Though the majority of players on the opening day 2010 roster were selected in the 2009 Expansion Draft, few made it beyond the inaugural season and none are with the squad today.

Are the Philadelphia Union unique or is this part of a larger trend? Hit the jump for a look at league-wide Expansion Draft pick retention...

2004 Expansion Draft - Chivas USA
10 picked, 0 remain
Arturo Torres, Orlando Perez, Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez, Antonio de la Torre, Matt Taylor, Craig Ziadie, Jamil Walker, Thiago Martins, Jeff Stewart
The two final hangers-on left the team in 2007 and many never signed or played with the team at all.

2004 Expansion Draft - Real Salt Lake
10 picked, 0 remain
Andy Williams, D.J. Countess, Pablo Brenes, Brian Kamler, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown, Matt Behncke, Rusty Pierce, Kevin Ara, Erick Scott
A couple stuck around for a season or two, most left or gave up on their pro careers immediately upon being picked. Andy Williams was in it for the long haul and only just recently retired.

2006 Expansion Draft - Toronto FC
10 picked, 0 remain
Paulo Nagamura, Danny O'Rourke, Jose Cancela, Adrian Serioux, Nate Jaqua, Rod Dyachenko, Jason Kreis, Tim Regan, Ritchie Kotschau, Will Hesmer
Only Nagamura played for TFC after being drafted. Regan was traded away but came back to play one game a year later. Serioux was traded shortly after draft day but came back through a trade a few years later (before leaving again).

2007 Expansion Draft - San Jose Earthquakes
10 picked, 1 remains
Ryan Cochrane, Clarence Goodson, Ned Grabavoy, James Riley, Joe Vide, Ivan Guerrero, Brian Carroll, Jason Hernandez, Gavin Glinton, Chris Pozniak
Only three players lasted more than a couple of games, all but Hernandez were gone within 2 years.

2008 Expansion Draft - Seattle Sounders
10 picked, 2 remain
Nate Jaqua, Nathan Sturgis, Jeff Parke, Jarrod Smith, Khano Smith, Peter Vagenas, Tyson Wahl, James Riley, Stephen King, Brad Evans
Most actually hung around with the team for two or three seasons, but nearly all have moved on since.

2009 Expansion Draft - Philadelphia Union
10 picked, 0 remain
Jordan Harvey, Andrew Jacobson, Brad Knighton, Sebastien Le Toux, Stefani Miglioranzi, Alejandro Moreno, David Myrie, Shea Salinas, Shavar Thomas, Nick Zimmerman
Three of these players were with the U by the time the 2011 season got started, two have since been traded for undisclosed amounts of allocation money and a third is a free agent following the Re-Entry draft.

2010 Expansion Draft - Portland Timbers
10 picked, 2 remain
Dax McCarty, Eric Brunner, Adam Moffat, Anthony Wallace, David Horst, Robbie Findley, Peter Lowry, Jonathan Bornstein, Jordan Graye, Arturo Alvarez
Apart from the 2 players still with the squad, Expansion Draftees played a combined total of 7 games for the Timbers.

2010 Expansion Draft - Vancouver Whitecaps
10 picked, 3 remain
Sanna Nyassi, Atiba Harris, Nathan Sturgis, Shea Salinas, Alan Gordon, O'Brien White, Alejandro Moreno, Joe Cannon, Jonathan Leathers, John Thorrington
Though Salinas and Leathers played for part of a season, all but 3 have left through trade or the Re-Entry Draft.

2011 Expansion Draft - Montreal Impact
10 picked, 8 remain, for now...
Brian Ching*, Zarek Valentin, Justin Mapp, Bobby Burling, Jeb Brovsky, Collen Warner, Josh Gardner, Sanna Nyassi, James Riley, Seth Sinovic
Ching is on leave from the Impact and is in Houston reworking his contract ahead of a very likely trade.

So what's the deal? Is this system really meant to provide teams with players around whom a franchise can be built? Or is it just the best way the league can think of to populate an expansion team with semi-valuable assets (most judged to be the 12th best player on their former team)? How long will it take the Impact to shed their training wheels like everyone else? Do you have a better idea for if/when the Cosmos join the party? Leave your thoughts below!

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