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MLS Expansion Draft: Who will the Philadelphia Union protect?

Nashville SC and Inter Miami will each get to select five players on Tuesday

MLS: Philadelphia Union at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There’s another expansion draft coming up next week, which means it’s time to speculate on what players the Philadelphia Union will be leaving unprotected.

The eight homegrowns are automatically protected so that leaves 12 of the other 21 players that Ernst Tanner and company can choose to protect or leave available for selection.

Their list is expected to be announced on Saturday but until then speculating can be a bit tricky since we don’t yet know what players out of contract (Fafa Picault, Ilsinho, Aurelien Collin, Haris Medunjanin, Jamiro Monteiro) and with options available (RJ Allen, Joe Bendik, Cory Burke, Warren Creavalle, Marco Fabian, Fabinho, Anthony Fontana, Olivier Mbaizo, Mark McKenzie, Michee Ngalina, Matt Real, Auston Trusty) the team intends to bring back.

Here’s my stab at it. Be sure to share yours in the comments below.

Players to Protect

Alejandro Bedoya
Andre Blake
Jack Elliott
Haris Medunjanin
Fafa Picault
Kacper Przybylko
Sergio Santos
Kai Wagner
Raymon Gaddis
Michee Ngalina
Warren Creavalle

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but I left Jamiro Monteiro off the protected list because he isn’t likely to return to the Union or stay in MLS should Nashville or Inter Miami select him (something that didn’t happen with Borek Dockal last year). The thought of seeing him selected and come to terms with Inter Miami is a frightening one but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to not leave a player like Ngalina or Creavalle available to be snatched up for depth.

Creavalle, along with Medunjanin and Przybylko were left unprotected but weren’t picked up in the last expansion draft, but after the seasons Medunjanin and Przybylko had protecting both of them is a priority. Creavalle could easily be left unprotected again in favor of Andrew Wooten, but would losing Wooten and going back into the market to find another striker (perhaps one to occupy the international roster spot Elliott is hopefully finally vacating this off-season?) be the worst thing to happen?

Players to Leave Unprotected

RJ Allen
Joe Bendik
Cory Burke
Aurelien Collin
Marco Fabian
Olivier Mbaizo
Jamiro Monteiro
Andrew Wooten

Putting Burke on the unprotected list after everything he went through with losing his visa seems like a cruel thing to do, but his absence gave Kacper the chance to step up and show that the Union don’t necessarily need both strikers on the roster. Fabian appears set to return to Liga MX so unless there’s a chance he will return there’s no need to protect him. Mbaizo is a tough call because he was so slowed by injury this season, but the big question mark with him remains whether or not the Union want to bring in an international player to take over the right back spot or risk having Mbaizo play second fiddle again to Gaddis while occupying an international spot for a third straight season.