On December 10th, MLS will hold the 2014 Expansion Draft. Orlando City SC and New York City FC will be selecting ten players each from the pool of players not protected by the other eighteen established MLS teams.
For those not familiar with the process, each MLS team protects eleven players from their roster, and those eleven plus the additional exempted players (Homegrown Players and Generation Adidas players that haven't graduated) are therefore not eligible for selection by OCSC and NYCFC.
The Philadelphia Union have gone through two expansion drafts, back in 2010 and 2011. After careful dissecting of both protected lists, here are my comments.
|Cristian Arrieta||Danny Califf||Jack McInerney|
|Eduardo Coudet||Brian Carroll||Danny Mwanga|
|Fred||Juan Diego Gonzalez||Amobi Okugo|
|Andrew Jacobson||Jordan Harvey|
|Brad Knighton||Sebastian Le Toux|
|Stefani Miglioranzi||Justin Mapp|
|Alejandro Moreno||Kyle Nakazawa|
|J.T. Noone||Michael Orozco Fiscal|
|Shea Salinas||Roger Torres|
|Chris Seitz||Sheanon Williams|
Players lost - Shea Salinas & Alejandro Moreno
Player pulled back - Chris Seitz
After the Philadelphia Union's inaugural season, the Union needed to protect ten players. I realize that the talent level was very average at best and that hindsight is 20/20, and I get that they probably based their decisions on the facts they had at the time, but some of their choices were very questionable and certainly made me shake my head.
What they did right
Danny Califf- No-brainer, captain and undisputed leader of the defense. Ranked fourth on the team with 2464 minutes in 28 starts. In 2011, Califf rewarded the protection by playing 2970 minutes in 33 starts. Solid choice
Brian Carroll- Acquired by the Union in November of 2010 from Columbus. Carroll played 2390 minutes in 28 games for the Columbus Crew. Carroll would play 2571 in 30 starts in 2011. Solid choice
Jordan Harvey - Was then (and still is) the best left back the Union has ever had. Harvey led the Union in minutes played in 2010 with 2620. Unfortunately, Jordan was traded in July 2011 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Solid choice to protect, horrible trade. Left back has been a gaping hole ever since.
Sebastian Le Toux - Third in minutes with 2520 in 28 games, Le Toux led the team in goals with fourteen and assists with eleven. Sebastian came back in 2011 and once again led the team in goals with eleven, assists with nine, and lead the team with 3060 minutes. Solid Choice.
Roger Torres- The nineteen year old impressed Peter Nowak with his fantastic passing ability and vision. Despite playing only 968 minutes in 21 games (ten of them starts) Torres was third on the team in assists with six. In 2011 despite playing in four more games, his minutes decreased to 931,and he managed just two assists but added three goals. Solid choice only because he had a great rookie season.
Sheanon Williams - Until Sheanon was signed in August, right back was a no man's land. The 20 year old came in and solidified the position and has been the first choice option to date. In 2011 he was fourth on the team with 2828 minutes in 32 games. Solid choice.
Somewhat questionable choices
Justin Mapp - Acquired through trade with the Chicago Fire in July, the 26 year old Mapp started in ten of his fifteen appearances and amassed four assists and a goal. In 2011 Mapp had 29 games and 24 starts, however he only had four assists and three goals. Mapp's somewhat disappointing assist total makes him a questionable choice to protect.
Kyle Nakazawa - Played in fourteen games and started eight, there was nothing special about him. He recorded zero assists and zero goals in 798 minutes. In 2011 his games played and minutes went up to twenty two and 1208 respectively, and he did manage a goal and three assists, still a very paltry number for a protected player.
Juan Diego Gonzalez - JDG was signed in August 2010 and started in all seven games he played, JDG helped solidify the defense at center back that up to that point was more like a leaky faucet thanks to Cristian Arrieta. What happened in 2011 has yet to be explained. He made ZERO appearances during the 2011 campaign. We know for a fact that he was not injured. Why did the Union protect a player, then turn around and give him zero minutes? He became a running punchline - a $193,000 paperweight. Horrible, horrible choice.
Michael Orozco Fiscal - The USMNT player came in on a loan from Mexican side San Luis. MOF started in 29 games and was second in minutes with 2562 and also added two goals. After being protected he returned to San Luis in January of 2011, reportedly after Peter Nowak tried to split his transfer fee with him. Another wasted pick.
Should have been protected
Shea Salinas - The midfielder/winger has been a solid MLS player despite having some injury concerns. His speed and ability are unquestionable, which makes it hard to explain why he wasn't protected. Vancouver snapped him up with the eighth pick overall.
Andrew Jacobson - Solid defensive midfielder played 1294 minutes in 25 games. Prior to the 2011 season, Jacobson was traded to FC Dallas where he made a very nice career for himself.
|Freddy Adu||Danny Califf||Jack McInerney|
|Juan Diego Gonzalez||Brian Carroll||Amobi Okugo|
|Chase Harrison||Keon Daniel||Zach Pfeffer|
|Thorne Holder||Gabriel Farfan||Zac MacMath|
|Levi Houapeu||Michael Farfan|
|Morgan Langley||Sebastian LeToux|
|Justin Mapp||Danny Mwanga|
|Stefani Miglioranzi||Faryd Mondragon|
|Kyle Nakazawa||Roger Torres|
|Veljko Paunovic||Carlos Valdes|
|Ryan Richter||Sheanon Williams|
Player Lost - Justin Mapp
Coming off their very successful second season, the Philadelphia Union came three points from winning the East conference. Their talent pool had increased, three of the previous year players on the protected list were left off this year.
What they did right
Danny Califf - After coming off a 2970 minutes, 33 starts season, Danny was a lock to be protected. Unfortunately the curse of the Captain started when in May, he was traded to Chivas for Michael Lahoud. Solid choice to protect him, bad choice to trade him.
Brian Carroll - After playing his first season for the Union and playing 2571 minutes in 30 starts, Carroll earned his way into the protected list by bringing stability and leadership to the DM role. In 2012 Carroll was second in the team with 2898 minutes in 33 games. Solid choice.
Michael Farfan -The "more talented" twin played in 21 games and added two goals and three assists. 2012 was a great year for Michael, he led the team in assists with five. Solid choice.
Sebastian Le Toux - 2011 was a solid year for Sebastian, for the second year in a row he lead the team with eleven goals and nine assists. 2012 however was disastrous for Le Toux, he was dealt to Vancouver in a move that can only be explained as "Nowakian". Obvious choice to protect your scoring leader, senseless act to trade away your most popular player.
Danny Mwanga - After a successful 2011 season where Mwanga scored five goals and assisted on four, Mwanga looked like he was coming into his own and protecting him was a no brainer. 2012 turned out to be a nightmare of a season, as the former number one pick was dealt to the Portland Timbers. Once again, solid choice to protect, but a shame he was dealt.
Roger Torres - At 20, Roger had become the go-to sub when the team was trailing and had also become a crowd favorite. 2012 however was a disappointment as he injured his knee and only made ten appearances, yet still managed to tie for third in the team in assists. Good choice, who knows what a healthy Torres would have added to the team.
Carlos Valdes - Came in on a one year loan and became a solid addition to the defense, who at one point was ranked number one in the league. The Colombian National Team player was second in the team in minutes with 2880. In 2012 after the Califf trade, Carlos was made the Captain and led the team in minutes, appearances, and scored two goals to boot. Solid choice to protect.
Sheanon Williams - One of MLS' best young right backs, in 2011 Sheanon was third in minutes and added a goal and three assists. 2012 was more of the same. Solid choice.
Somewhat questionable choices
Keon Daniel - The Trinidad and Tobago midfielder was signed in March 2011 and played in eighteen games, scoring a goal and assisting in two. After a nice debut season in 2011, Daniel saw more action in 2012. He played in 22 games - starting seventeen of them - however he only managed one assist. Overrated, Daniel should not have been protected.
Gabriel Farfan - After the July 2011 trade of Jordan Harvey that introduced many of us to the concept of allocation money, the rookie was given the opportunity to start at left back and the midfielder responded by being serviceable. In 2012 Gabriel played in 23 games and was seventh in the team in minutes with 1960. Ok choice, if only because the club had no other choice at left back.
Faryd Mondragon - The World Cup veteran was added not only as the first choice keeper, but also as a mentor to newly drafted Zac MacMath. Faryd led the team to the only playoff appearance in it's brief history. Unfortunately, Mondragon didn't make an appearance in 2012 as he went back to his original club, Deportivo Cali. Obviously a solid choice to protect, but I sense a lack of communication between the player and the FO.
Should have been protected
Justin Mapp - Justin became a solid player for the Union in 2011, he was seventh on the team in minutes and added three goals and four assists. Mapp was picked by the Montreal Impact and has become a solid player playing in 77 games in three years. Could have easily protected Mapp over Keon Daniel.
So, what does this tell you about this year's expansion draft? Nothing, except that there's a good chance that the Union will protect someone that won't play a minute for the team in 2015. There's better talent in 2014 than there ever was in both 2010 and 2011, so the decisions will be tougher.