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Breaking down the Philadelphia Union's 2011 MLS Expansion Draft Protection List

Alright, it was just released so I figured I'd do a quick breakdown here and highlight who I thought would be protected and who ended up being protected and what it might mean for the team.

The actual protection list from the Union's website.

My Own List (Posted November 5th)

Mondragon, Williams, Califf, Valdes, G. Farfan, M. Farfan, Mwanga, Le Toux, Adu, Torres, Carroll, Pfeffer (HGP), Okugo (GA), McInerney (GA), MacMath (GA)

Exposed Players

(Note: My original blog didn't have Migz in the unprotected list or even at all, that goes to show you how little I like him.  In actuality I forgot to add him because I was so focused on writing other things but he would have been unprotected in my list)

Daniel, Holder, Harrison, Richter, Mapp, Nakazawa, Houapeu, Tait, Gonzalez, Paunovic,  Langley, Miglioranzi

Starting 11 Picks

10 for 11

I have to admit, the Union protecting Daniel surprised me.  Given how they seemed to totally drop the ball on his paperwork,  that would have allowed him to be in the United States through the rest of the season.   The dropping of Adu genuinely caught me off guard but I'll get to what I think Nowak and Company are doing in a bit.

Homegrown Players/Generation Addidas Players

4 for 4

Called all 4 of them, and from what I've read Mwanga was almost assured of graduation and the fact that he did came as no surprise to me, or anyone.  The others were naturally not going to since they either were Homegrown (Pfeffer) or didn't see enough minutes to warrant graduation (McInerney, MacMath and Okugo).

The Exposed

11 of 12

Okay, who actually saw Adu being exposed? He was a name that drew some media attention to the Union.  Perhaps Nowak didn't see much from him in practice or on the field.  I'll be honest here, I never thought Adu of all people would be left out there for Montreal to snap up.  However, what does this all possibly mean for the team in the long run?

What this all means for the team

First of all lets look at the protected: Daniel and Torres stand out to me.  Torres as has been mentioned in a previous blog is on loan.  Protecting him tells me that the Union are going to do one of two things the first would be to buy him outright as they did Carlos Valdes, in all honesty not a bad move since Torres has been showing more confidence on the ball and his attacking skills have definitely improved from last season.  The second would be to extend his loan which is also a good possibility, however, as Torres improves and gets more playing time and shows off his skill the price will rise.  It'll be interesting to see how the Union handle the Torres situation.

Daniel is also interesting because it might mean that he gets more of a starting role in the lineup.  I liked what I saw from Daniel this past season, good ball control and seemed to know how to hold the ball (a skill that much of the team seems to lack currently).

Going on to the unprotected, here are my three top candidates that might be picked up by Montreal and why they might and why they might not.

Freddy Adu

Why he might get picked

First of all, it would be a name splash that Montreal would like to have.  Adu is only 22 years old so he still has plenty of time to become the player that everyone thought he would be when he first came into the league.  Adu showed some good passing skills and his set pieces weren't bad.  He played pretty much like a player brought in near the end of the season would.  With a full off season under his belt with a team, he could be a good player.  Furthermore, Adu could be traded to a team in exchange for a draft pick or two, Montreal really would have a bunch of options if they grab Adu from us.

Why he might NOT get picked

Adu has never really lived up to the hype of being the "American Pele" while young he hasn't exactly been a world beating talent, given the fact that he bounced around Europe for a few years with no real "home" probably didn't help his development.  Some might argue that Adu is "broke" and he'll never be a great talent given that he might have "missed the bus" if you catch my meaning in terms of development.  Also is his salary, Adu will most likely be a young designated player this upcoming season and Montreal might not want the burden of that kind of money to be paid.

Justin Mapp

Why he might get picked

Mapp is as proven a commodity as Montreal will get from the Union.  He's played in the MLS since 2002 and knows how to play in the league.  Plus, Jesse Marsch, the head coach of the Montreal Impact played with Mapp on the Chicago Fire squad from 2003-2005.  He knows Mapp and how he handles himself on the field.  Mapp could be a stabilizing force in the midfield for the new club.

Why he might NOT get picked

On his good days Mapp is a good player, however on his bad days...yeah.  He tends to be stuck to using his left foot and doesn't deviate much from it.  Defenses have had luck when they force him into using his right foot and he doesn't seem to be able to cope when that happens.  

Kyle Nakazawa

Why he might get picked

Considered "a steal" for the Union in the 2010 Draft when they nabbed him in the 3rd round.  Nakazawa is only 23 years old and has shown some decent set piece skills that he was known for when the Union drafted him.  He  hasn't gotten the chance to start consistently and Montreal might be the club where he's able to do that.

Why he might NOT get picked

Nakazawa has never blown me away on the field.  You can argue that its because he hasn't gotten a ton of minutes and hey, I'd probably agree with you.   However, I have to look at the body of his work that he's shown and what he's shown me hasn't been all that great. 

Going back to the "what this means for the team" mentioned above, I think that the Union will be shopping for a LB in the off season and if Adu, Mapp or Nakazawa are taken (The other unprotected players I don't think really need to be worried about) then you have Gabriel Farfan to fit into his natural midfield role.  Or even Keon Daniel if need be.   Or they could keep Gabriel Farfan at LB and move Daniel into the vacated spot left by Mapp or Adu.   Honestly, losing any of the three players I mentioned above won't hurt the Union all that much.

However, one complaint that I will address directly is the one of people wondering why we didn't protect Adu after "spending so much" to get him.  First of all, the Union acquired him as essentially a free agent, he wasn't a designated player (at the time, though there is debate on whether or not he might be this upcoming season if he stays with the Union), and second, if taken, his big salary hit would come off the team, enabling the Union to sign more players which would help with the issue of depth they had all of last season.

Basically the Union put it's cards on the table and just called Montreal.  The Impact could very well pick Adu and try and trade him, but there are no guarantees of that given the fact that Adu's salary will no doubt be hefty this upcoming season.  The Union are betting that Montreal will pass on Adu and possibly take Mapp or Nakazawa, if they do take Adu they might try and trade him but its an iffy prospect at best to see if any team would be willing to take on his salary at that point and Montreal would be stuck with it.  

In closing, I'm actually very pleased with the protected list and am getting more excited as to what else the Union have in store over the off season. At worst we lose Adu, Mapp or Nakazawa and each of those players is replaceable with the talent the team currently has, not to mention anyone they bring in during the off season.

Should be fun times in Philadelphia over the next few months. Enjoy the ride fellow DOOPers.