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Who do you protect during the MLS Expansion Draft?

There are going to be some tough decisions to be made come December.

Philadelphia Union vs DC United Photo Gallery Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

It seems like a very simple question, but like most things MLS, it becomes very complicated the more you think about it.

I asked the staff here at Brotherly Game that question a couple months back and then once I got confirmation from MLS that there was going to be an Expansion Draft this year, I posed it again. The rules are simple:

  • Pick eleven players to protect from Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United.
  • Generation adidas and players signed via the Homegrown Player mechanism are exempt

For our exercise, we excluded Andre Blake, Josh Yaro, and Fabian Herbers due to their Generation adidas status and Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty due to their status as Homegrown Players. Like all things MLS though, it gets complicated. We don’t know whether or not Andre Blake will continue to be a Generation adidas player after this season. Our decision not to count him was based on the following criteria:

  • Since December 31 is the end of the MLS year, our assumption is that most contracts end on that date. Since the Expansion Draft usually happens in early December, the contract would still be valid.
  • Most Generation adidas contacts go at least 3 years. While this would be Blake’s third year, the contract wouldn’t expire until December 31.
  • Players can graduate from the program, but no goalkeeper graduated after their first full season in goal. While this isn’t Blake’s first season in goal, it’s his first full season - prior to this season he appeared in just 7 games. Blake currently has played 3,060 total minutes. For comparison: Zac MacMath graduated after 3 years playing 6,615 minutes, Sean Johnson graduated after 2 years playing 3,690 minutes, and Stefan Frei graduated after 2 years playing 4,815 minutes.

Based on this, we felt Blake would be considered Generation adidas long enough not to take up a protected spot in the Expansion Draft.

Also of note, while Designated Players are not exempt, some may have clauses requiring protection during an Expansion Draft. Since this information isn’t available, we went under the guise that neither Alejandro Bedoya nor Maurice Edu had that clause and required protection.

The voting tally looked like this. The percentage after a player’s name is the percent of staff that elected to keep the player.

Roland Alberg - 100%
Tranquillo Barnetta - 100%
Alejandro Bedoya - 100%
Keegan Rosenberry - 100%
Chris Pontius - 100%
Charlie Davies - 94%
Richie Marquez - 94%
CJ Sapong - 94%
Maurice Edu - 81%
Fabinho - 75%
Ilsinho - 50%
Eric Ayuk - 38%
Ken Tribbett - 31%
Brian Carroll - 19%
Warren Creavalle - 13%
Ray Gaddis - 6%
Leo Fernandes - 6%

Everyone was in agreement on five players, and those five players make the most sense as they’re either the players who have contributed the most or in Bedoya’s case, is a new arrival that came at a hefty price. Davies, Marquez, and Sapong fit those descriptors as well. From there, it starts to flag a bit. Only 81% voted to keep Edu - while he’s the team captain he’s also been on the injured list for over a year. Fabinho’s a solid 75%, but the dropoff from there is steep. Not everyone was sold on Ilsinho, the promise of Eric Ayuk or Ken Tribbett, or the veteran leadership of Brian Carroll.

We want to know who you’d protect. Fill out the form below, and we’ll reveal the results next week.