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Subtraction by Expansion

A look at the Union's roster as an impending double Expansion Draft approaches this offseason. Who on the roster is safe? Who is likely to be risked? Here is a first look at how the roster currently sits.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The first batch of Philadelphia Union players to be signed were selected from other teams from an Expansion Draft. Since entering the league the Philadelphia Union have also been on the opposite side of the equation on two occasions as the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and Montreal Impact entered the league. During those drafts the Union lost Shea Salinas (Vancouver), Alejandro Moreno (Vancouver), and Justin Mapp (Montreal).

Once again the Union roster will be split up into Exempt, Protected, and Exposed categories. While the exact Expansion Draft rules for this off season have not been released yet, we can make some assumptions based on previous years.

  • Homegrown players are exempt
  • Generation Adidas players are exempt
  • Designated players can be exposed, unless they have a no trade clause in their contract, then you are forced to protect them
  • Eleven players will be protected from each roster
  • With two teams drafting, when one of your players is drafted, you will be able to protect one additional player from your exposed list
With those rules in mind, here is how the Union's roster currently shapes up.

Exempt: Andre Blake (Generation Adidas), Cristhian Hernandez (Homegrown), Jimmy McLaughlin (Homegrown), and Zach Pfeffer (Homegrown)

These players have nothing to worry about. Unless traded to either New York City FC or Orlando City, they will be playing in Philadelphia (or Harrisburg) next season.

Highly Unlikely to Be Protected: Fabio Alves, Corben Bone, Brian Carroll, Conor Casey, Fred Da Silva, Leo Fernandes, Antoine Hoppenot, Richie Marquez, and Aaron Wheeler

This group of players includes those with little to no MLS experience, those who have fallen off the first team roster, or are aging stars that an expansion team would be unlikely to select because of a higher salary and limited future output.

Definitely Protected: Raymon Gaddis, Sebastien LeToux, Cristian Maidana, Rais M'Bolhi, Vincent Nogueira, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, and Sheanon Williams

These eight players would be major snubs to not find their way onto the protected list. They make up the players with the most impact on the team and the players that the team have made the biggest investment in. There's no rumors of these players leaving anytime soon and are the core of the team now and, barring any too-good-to-pass-up offers, will be the core next season too.

The Fringe Players:

The remaining players will be very awaiting the final list to know if they were awarded one of the last 3 spots, or if draft day will be the difference between signing a new lease or hiring a moving company. I left players that are on loan to the team in this group as it will be important for the team to decide if they will be picking up the options or letting them go at the end of the season to know if they are worth protecting or not.

  • Maurice Edu - if the Union are going to pick up his option, he is a must protect player. If they don't want to put out the additional investment to buy him from Stoke City, there is no reason to waste a protected spot on him.
  • Brian Brown - much like Edu, he is on loan and it will depend on if his option will be picked up. His appearances have been hit or miss and it could go either way. Even if they do sign him permanently, he may not need to be protected.
  • Austin Berry - the former Rookie of the Year has fallen from grace since his move to Philadelphia. Long term he is likely to bounce back if given an opportunity and if left unprotected is likely to be selected. It would be a shame to see him leave Philly after just one season and such bad performances.
  • Danny Cruz - his relationship with Philly faithful has been one of love and hate, with some great performances on occasion, but far more frustrating play. He lack technical skill, but is a hustler and always finds himself in the top half of the roster. Wouldn't be surprised to see him protected, but also wouldn't be surprised to see him exposed and drafted.
  • Michael Lahoud - had found himself on the outside looking in under Hackworth, but has found new life with Curtin in charge. Has put in a few rocky performances of late, but is a league veteran and an international. Would be a long shot to be protected of this list though.
  • Pedro Ribeiro - while not featuring in the league yet and spending most of his time with the City Islanders, he is starting to make a name for himself. A Player of the Week performance and a handful of goals to his name mean he could be looked on as a promising player on a cheap salary.
  • Andrew Wenger - the pros are he is a jack of all trades, local kid who works hard and keeps his nose clean. The negatives are he's making a good chunk of money and is a master of no position. Hard to think a young, former Number One overall draft pick would be passed up by two expansion teams.
  • Ethan White - yet another of the players that were invisible to Hackworth, but find new life under Curtin. He's looks capable since moving into the starting lineup and Curtin has voiced his support of a Valdes-White partnership to the press. Also still young and if not selected would be a nice draft piece for Orlando or NYCFC.
  • Zac MacMath - this is the biggest question mark of them all. What is going to come of MacMath this offseason. There are always a flurry of trades right before the draft and the most likely scenario is someone swoops in for the young veteran before he is left exposed. The Union would also benefit from receiving something in return rather than letting him go for free.
If I had to predict the final three spots my money would be on Maurice Edu, Ethan White, and Danny Cruz with Andrew Wenger being the extra protected player if someone else is selected.

We want to hear who makes your protected list this offseason!

Leave your eleven man protected list in the comments and join the conversation.