MLS Protected Lists & Mock Draft

This post by TSG staff

MLS continued it’s full court marketing press by issuing it’s unprotected list just a day after the MLS Cup final.

2012's Jack Jewsbury...

Some fascinating players on the take (for the take?). Here’s a feasible team based upon a balance of “Don’t get blown out” and “Priming for growth.”

Round 1: Zarek Valentin: Chivas, reason please? Not Latino–yes we just wrote that.

Round 2: Mike Fucito: If you’re going to be hucking it over the top, you need someone to chase it down

Round 3: Collen Warner*: Streaking winger; hopefully better than this year’s Sal Zizzo. *That said great trade bait

Round 4: Kyle Nakazawa: Service and steady–maybe sneak him in as a tucked in midfielder or even outside back

Round 5: Michael Boxall: DE! (see RD #8)

Round 6: Chris Birchall, Los Angeles: Starter on a champion? From the British Isle and comfortable playing anywhere? This year’s Jack Jewsbury

Round 7: Eric Alexander: About to realize his potential.

Round 8: Michael Harrington: FENSE!

Round 9: Ross LaBeaux: Highly rated coming out of college. TSG’s sleeper 2010 rookie of the year. Locked behind the dynamic duo. Among LaBeaux, Nakazawa & Birchall–not a bad expansion midfield. And how do you not take a guy whose name means “Beautiful” in French if you’re Montreal. IMPACT!

Round 10: Thomas Heinemann: Need someone up top for Fucito to run off. Since Fucito is taken, can’t take O’Brien White (note: We wouldn’t be surprised if O’Brien White is grabbed by the Impact instead of Fucito). Plus he’d scare the crap out of people on the streets of Montreal.

Avoided a keeper–think we can pick up one–Marcus Hahnemann?–somewhere else.

Can you imagine Fucito and Heinemann rolling down the street by the way. Tom Cruise and the guy from the Geico commercial–please tell me there’s a billboard in there for Montreal.

Bogey: Michael Stephens. The Galaxy are a good team and you’d be inclined to consider Stephens, but if teams aren’t worried about you and you still are challenged with game speed?

Others in contention: Paolo Cardoza, Baggio Husidic, Kosuke Kimura (injury ruled him out)

The full expansion list courtesy MLSSoccer.com

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53 responses to this post.

  1. Is that two DPs unprotected? Adu and Caraglio?

    Reply

    • Posted by Chad on 2011/11/21 at 8:04 PM

      SKC left both their DPs unprotected (Omar Bravo and Jeferson Goncalves)

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/21 at 8:09 PM

      Adu I understand. Caraglio, maybe a handshake deal. Can’t see either Bravo or Jeferson going to and or thriving in Montreal. Especially not Bravo.

      Reply

    • Posted by Patrick Starr on 2011/11/22 at 12:11 AM

      Vancouvers Jarju is an unprotected DP. but really didnt do anything last season

      Reply

    • Posted by doug. on 2011/11/22 at 2:26 PM

      DCU’s Boskovic is an unprotected DP too…just coming off of a torn ACL.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Patrick on 2011/11/21 at 8:10 PM

    Columbus left Mendoza unprotected.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/21 at 8:16 PM

      Huge headcase — bad lockerroom guy. Can’t see an expansion side wanting him in their locker room this early on.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Zack (TDA) on 2011/11/21 at 8:21 PM

    My ten:

    Chaves (F, CHI, $42K)
    Gavin (M, CHV, $55K)
    Kimura (D, COL, $63K)
    Gardner (D/M, CLB, $49K)
    Cardozo (LA, M/F, $42K)
    Barnes (D, NE, $60K)
    E. Alexander (D, POR, $47K)
    Sinovic (D/M, SKC, something in the mid-five figure range.)
    Fucito (F, SEA, $42K)
    Ballouchy (M, NY, 125K).

    These are the ten best buys I see on the board that would realistically appeal to a guy like Marsch. That said, I like the idea of Birchall as a hardman in the middle (and, obviously, so would Jesse). Similarly, I love the idea of having Valentin and Harrington on the same teamsheet running the flank play. What a dynamic group going forward this could be (oh dear, I think I love the idea of an expansion draft a little too much).

    Not entirely sold on Chaves and Barnes, but they’re both great for the money. Ballouchy was really the one I’m not confident they’ll take, but I think he could really blossom on a squad that makes him the creative focal point going forward. He’s a hit to the wage bill compared to the others — and for similar money I could see Marsch wanting to take someone like Grabavoy.

    All in all, I think these selections give Montreal a solid foundation with tons of financial wiggle-room. In the past few expansion drafts, a lot of teams have overestimated the value of trade bait and been saddled with big contract players whom they struggle to use, but also struggle to sell for a decent enough return. I think there’s a certain validity to wanting to use the expansion draft to create an experienced foundation, but all too often it can result in taking someone who is way too expensive to just become a locker-room presence or fringe veteran. The proclivity for teams to draft a guy like Pete Vagenas in the past springs to mind.

    Rather, Montreal has a wonderful opportunity here with so many great prospects with low contracts on the board. I feel like they have the luxury of working backwards, padding the roster with cheaper (but high-quality) talent in places where in years’ past it would make sense to look for the experienced foundation.

    That said, I think there’s a lot of veteran leadership on the board as well — players that probably will (and, some would argue, should) be taken in place of a lot of those I’ve mentioned — even if it means paying double for their services.

    Knowing the teams Marsch has played with, though, I could see him going for the younger guns in this draft and then going for experienced big names in the next few months through trades and signings. There’s a kind of Nowakian stroke to that philosophy, no?

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/22 at 1:53 PM

      Sorry, I just don’t see Ballouchy as a good buy. To me, it’s still baffling why Hans Backe has chosen to use him so much.

      Reply

  4. Posted by dth on 2011/11/21 at 9:04 PM

    Thought you had to protect Generation Adidas players? Kind of shocked Valentin would be unprotected anyway–he had a pretty good rookie season.

    I’ll go: Valentin, Stephens, Brettschneider, Harrington, Fucito, Husidic, Ampai, Warshaw, Warner, Gardner.

    Think that’s not exorbitant cap-wise. My thinking with the expansion draft is this: bias yourself heavily towards the yutes–high-risk, high-reward. Inevitably, you will end up throwing most of these players away, and given the vast expanses of available labor abroad, you should take risks on young, cheap, American players–the scarcest, most valuable talent in MLS.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/11/21 at 11:43 PM

      My understanding is that GA players are exempt from the expansion draft, until they graduate from the program at which point they are fair game like anyone else.

      I don’t get the Valentin omission either. Why protect JPA? Would Montreal really take on a 36 year-old DP? It looks like Chivas have the requisite three protected foreign players even without JPA on the list.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ritz on 2011/11/22 at 9:09 AM

        When JPA renegotiated his contract for the trade to CHV he may have included a no-trade clause which would require CHV to protect him

        Reply

  5. I know Daniel Hernadez is old, but he was one of Dallas’ most consistent players this year. You would think a club would want to protect their captain?

    Reply

  6. Posted by Rafael on 2011/11/22 at 12:46 AM

    I can’t belive the Galaxy protected both Ricketts and Saunders. You have to move on with one and let the other one go. Either one of them would have been an instant pick for the Impact. I don’t think Montreal will use a pick on a GK, because of the limited number of picks, and the limited number of options. If they do, the best among them is Cronin and Seitz.

    Fucito and Valentin are no brainers. Cardozo is another great pick. The Galaxy should have protected him over Magee. Then the Impact could go with players like Grabavoy, Ballouchy, Mapp, or Convey. I would love to see them take Adu, just to get him away from Nowak.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 6:09 AM

      In terms of the Galaxy, they can trade one. I think you protect both and then get value out of the trade. Makes sense in my mind.

      Philly did the same thing last year if you remember with Chris Seitz.

      Mapp’s not a bad pick-up. Good suggestion.

      Reply

  7. Posted by 4now on 2011/11/22 at 3:06 AM

    Michael Harrington (Leftback, KC. $137K))
    That solves the left back problem.

    Zarek Valentin (Center/Rightback, Chivas, $132K)
    Would seriously consider Blair Gavin instead, but what a great deal in Valentin.

    Kosuke Kimura (Rightback, Colorado, $64K)
    Hard not to take Nyassi here, but Kimura is excellent. He only broke his left foot after all and should be back fine. I say you get at least 4 solid seasons out of him. One of the top 5 RBs in the league, easy.

    Biran Ching (Striker, Houston, $412K)
    Leadership, options, experience.

    Kyle Nakazawa (MIdfield, Union, $44K)
    Nakazawa is a steal at $44K and should blossom into a consistent MLS starter. Mapp is also there for the taking….

    Santino Quaranta (Winger, DC, $118K)
    A risk, but an enormous upside if he can recover from injury.

    James Riley (Rightback, Seattle, $98K)
    I say Seattle gives you any other unprotected player and a draft pick or a little allocation money back if you select him.

    Bobby Buring (Centerback, San Jose, $42K)
    A nice expansion choice. You’re ideal substitute in that position. And for the price…

    Paulo Jr. (Forward, RSL, $42K)
    Sleeper. 2 goals & 4 assists in 468 minutes. Steal.

    Nick Soolsma (Forward, TFC, $86K)
    You should take a player off your soon to be rival. Soolsma, in his first campaign, scored 3 goals, and had 5 assists for TFC – leading the team in the latter category. Great selection, great way to dilute your rival.

    Some observations:
    -LA is not particularly deep, are they?
    -Yes, you take three quality right backs – Valentin, Riley, and Kimura. And you shop at least one around…

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/22 at 9:50 AM

      I’m not sure Soolsma is worth it from a Montreal perspective. There are better forwards to be had in my opinion.

      As for Ching, I doubt he’ll be taken. He’s older than you look for in these drafts and he’d probably refuse to move to Montreal. He seems pretty settled and happy in Houston.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 11:15 AM

      Agreed — tough to see Ching. Probably an Impact handshake deal there. Also with the new stadium opening, hard to lose your captain.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 12:22 PM

      All decent picks there. Except Burling–who will easily pull a hamstring in anything colder than 52 degree weather.

      Reply

      • Posted by 4now on 2011/11/23 at 2:11 PM

        Gotcha : )

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/23 at 3:18 PM

          Poor, poor pick. Only taken on Marsch by trust factors.

          Reply

          • Posted by 4now on 2011/11/24 at 2:13 AM

            How do you mean?
            I think it’s an excellent pick. My prediction is that Montreal sends Ching, their #1 draft pick, and allocation $ to Houston for Hainault.

            Let’s see.
            I love the fact that they called the Dynamo on their lame bluff.

            Reply

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/24 at 6:15 AM

              I can see a Hainault trade happening. I’m not a Burling fan. I think he’s reached his potential and he’s not a fantastic marshall in the back. I would have went with Michael Harrington–though the opportunity to take Sinovic was probably too great to pass up.

  8. Posted by Eric on 2011/11/22 at 7:12 AM

    Shocked Valentin isn’t protected. Makes me wonder if it’s because he isn’t Latino as well, sad as it is to think. JPA wouldn’t have been picked. Too old and costs too much for an expansion team to take. They should have left him unprotected.

    Players I’d look at?
    – Blair Gavin: Injuries have hurt him a lot but he’s fairly cheap, still very young, and I think could turn into one of the better players in MLS.
    – Diego Chaves: I’m a Fire fan and actually do want this guy back next year. He’s got a nose for goal and seems to just know where to be to get chances on net. As an expansion team, you’re going to have to take goals however you can get them. Why not grab a natural, and in my opinion pretty good, poacher?
    – Darrius Barnes: Again, a little biased since I was on the same High School Varsity team as him but very solid and underrated player. Doesen’t commit fouls, very athletic, and is smart enough to organize a back line. Besides, he can play anywhere along the back four (and has for Nichol which says a lot to me).
    Zarek Valentin: Everyone will probably agree with this (I know I said Gavin up top as well, go with either one) This guy might be one of the starting backs for the US olympic team. Hard to pass him up and make Chivas pay for what appears to be a stupid move.
    Michael Harrington: Still a good player as far as I’m concerned and can play left back or left mid.
    Leonardo (Galaxy): Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the same Leonardo who filled in at centerback fairly well for the Galaxy at times last year. He’s young, would be cheap and seems to have high upside.

    If you go with those last four players, you at least have a strong backline to build around.

    By the way, completely random, did anyone else forget that Carl Robinson even still played for New York? I thought he had retired or something. I can’t believe NY has kept his large salary around to not even put him on a bench.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/11/22 at 7:28 AM

      Yeah, I think the Fire should’ve protected Chaves instead of Pardo. Pardo’s old and probably not willing to move to Montreal.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ritz on 2011/11/22 at 9:13 AM

        Yes that Leonardo but you would have to renegotiate loan terms in one month because his loan from Sao Paolo is up in December…

        Reply

        • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/22 at 9:53 AM

          I still feel like that could be a worthwhile investment. A young, skilled defender is always worth a look in my opinion. Suppose it would just depend on how much they think the negotations would end up costing them. Otherwise, I’m not sure how big a downside there is to taking a flyer on Leonardo.

          Reply

  9. Posted by JohnC on 2011/11/22 at 7:55 AM

    Agree with a lot of the guys mentioned above but the player that most surprised me was Danny Cruz being left unprotected by Houston. This was a guy that most pundits had earmarked for the U23 camp if Houston didnt make the final, a player who started all playoffs for Houston, who is very young and has great raw skills. Good pure wingers are a rarity in MLS and this kid could be one of the best in the next couple seasons.

    It seems every year the expansion teams are looking for a veteran presence in the midfield and a holdup forward. Also, I think Montreal will be looking for players and not trade bait like Van and Portland did last year. Birchell, Mapp, Grabavoy and Sturgis seem to fill the first requirement. Santos, Schielawski, Weaver and Heinman could fill the second quota.

    No way the guys over >3000000

    Reply

    • Cruz will lose his GA status and thus takes up a good chunk of cap space (like 130k under his current contract). He’s good with great pace but streaky, I think the Dynamo think they’ve got a more consistent/cheaper option in Colin Clark (assuming he can stay injury-free).

      Reply

  10. FYI for everyone, Portland made a deal with Montreal involving the in-season loan of Ryan Pore and an International Player slot that Montreal will not pick any Portland players during the expansion draft.

    Reply

  11. Posted by JGD on 2011/11/22 at 9:08 AM

    Don’t underestimate Montreal selecting a “big-name” strictly for marketing purposes. Portland brought-in Kenny Cooper, Vancouver grabbed DeMerit (though neither was an expansion draft pick). I could see Adu, Ching, or even JPL being picked up. Montreal ownership has the money and commitment.

    Valentin has to be picked. Complete no-brainer. Adding Valentin and maybe Harrington (coupled with free agent signing and former Inter man Nelson Rivas) would give Impact a potentially stiff back line.

    I don’t see a keeper being selected. Evan Bush performed very well for Impact last year and is the starter at this point.

    Would’ve liked to see Ryan Pore back in MTL but I doubt that happens now. Scored 7 times in 11 games on loan.

    Reply

    • Posted by JGD on 2011/11/22 at 9:10 AM

      Sorry meant to say JPA instead of JPL but shouldn’t have included him regardless.

      Reply

      • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/22 at 9:56 AM

        I can maybe see Adu if they really want a big splash but not Ching. I can just see him refusing to play in Montreal at this point in his career. He and his family are fairly settled in Houston. Besides, Ching isn’t a player who creates for himself much anymore. He thrives off set pieces and good service (which Houston provides him). I don’t think Montreal can replicate that in their first season. As such, to me it makes much more sense to take a chance on a forward who is a natural poacher with nose for goal (Chaves) and can get you those garbage goals or a tricky forward who creates for himself (Paulo jr. for example).

        Reply

        • Ching isn’t going anywher. He’s said publicly he’s looking at retiring after next season and that he wants to stay with the Dynamo in some capacity if possible.

          He just wants to play a season in the new stadium, something he very much deserves.

          Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 10:26 AM

      I think you go out and sign that guy rather than draft him.

      You’re probably using that leverage now in fact with someone you have to sign. For example, “South American Freddy Adu if you don’t sign this contract we’re going to be forced to take North American Freddy Adu Wednesday. Offer is off the table Tuesday at 11:59.”

      Always easier to sign the high priced free agent because: a) you know he wants to be there more than the guy left being unprotected, b) it gives you an extra draft pick and c) you have a guy that precisely fits the style you want.

      Just my two cents.

      Reply

  12. [...] Shin Guardian has the full set of protected lists and a mock [...]

    Reply

  13. Since this is a Montreal kinda day, here is the promo video for L’Impact. Good to see the team acknowledging their history and city.

    Reply

    • Just realized that should have been “l’Impact” or perhaps “les Impact”. Un petit peu l’francais aujourd’hui.

      Reply

      • Posted by JGD on 2011/11/22 at 3:13 PM

        Je ne parle pas tres bien le francais. And I suspect most others couldn’t call you on it either!

        Reply

  14. [...] when he gets healthy, could be a top-tier fullback in MLS for a long time. A tip of the hat to The Shin Guardian for Birchall, whom I had to include here.  With Montreal, Convey gets a chance to play midfield. It gets him [...]

    Reply

  15. Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2011/11/22 at 10:45 AM

    I’m curious about your dig on Sal Zizzo… He dislocated his should during pre-season and at the end of the year was wiped off the field by dirty play from Houston, but during the meat of the campaign he was an impact player creating opportunities. Portland was a much better team with him running the right side than Nagbe. He also had the same number of assists as Nagbe in less minutes played.

    And the above poster is correct in that a deal was brokered with Montreal that the Impact will not select any Portland players. Tweet by Merrit Paulson confirmed that.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 10:57 AM

      Wrote the article before the Portland news.

      On Sal Zizzo, I think the criticism is fair. He needs to stay on the pitch. He’s got the talent, but he’s proven to be inconsistent at remaining in the starting 11. Given his pedigree, he certainly should be a top name on the team sheet–whether it’s through an unfortunate tackle or not–he has to be on the pitch. It’s hard for a coach to build around or rely on a player that is not always there.

      Collen Warner has had some injuries. It is very hard to pick a brittle player for an expansion when you know–above all–that MLS quality depth will be lacking.

      Reply

      • While Zizzo played in 30 games he only had 1515 minutes on the year and started only 14 games. I love his speed but he needs to work on durability and his decision making when he beats his man.

        Although I still love me some Zizzo, and I hear his foodcart is good.

        Reply

  16. Heinemann F 44,000 CLB
    Kandji F 147,988 COL
    Da Luz M 82,375 DC
    Gjertsen M 83,625 SJ
    Cardozo M 53,250 LA
    Nakazawa M 44,000 PHL
    Gonzalez D 110,000 SEA
    Boxall D 44,000 VAN
    Valentin D 132,000 CHV
    Sinovic D 32,604 KC

    773,842.37

    room left under cap(2.811M) 2,037,532.6

    Birchall or Cardozo from LA, tough call for me. Really saw some good things the little bit Cardozo was on field. Suspect Marsch goes for Birchall.

    Sinovic or Gonzalez for left back. I should swap one out. Perhaps Sinovic for Soony Saad or Diop from SKC.

    Gjersten is a senitmental pick, of course, I may have no clue what I’m talking about.

    Reply

  17. Posted by prizby on 2011/11/22 at 12:00 PM

    Nana Attakora…Canadian and Montreal needs a minimum of 3 Canadians

    Reply

    • Posted by JGD on 2011/11/22 at 3:19 PM

      It’ll be interesting to see which Canadians Montreal adds to the roster this year. Toronto has gone heavy on Canadians (10) while Vancouver only has 3.

      Perhaps they throw money at Houston and try to convince Hainault to come home? He’s from Dorion (MTL suburb) and actually played for Impact at the start of his pro career. He’d definitely be a fan favorite (they do love their francophones up here). Hainault may look to head back to Europe however…

      Reply

  18. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/22 at 2:12 PM

    From MLS Soccer on Freddy Adu: http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2011/11/22/montreal-boss-marsch-admits-adu-possibility

    I see this more as posturing by the Impact.

    Adu would be a good piece, but I don’t think he’s the guy you want for a starting franchise. Just my opinion.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/11/22 at 3:37 PM

      It seems like an especially bad idea for a guy like Marsch, who hasn’t even made pretensions of playing a flowing, creative game. He’ll want to go box-to-boxer/destroyer in central midfield.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/23 at 1:07 AM

    Potentially losing Cardozo makes me want to cry for LA.

    What little he was on the field this year – kid could be a breakout in the league. Great ball skills, took players on 1 v 1, great vision. Solid play in CCL.

    Needs to work on his physicality, one touch passing and just plain gain some weight (in a toned manner).

    But imo, he’s a keeper. I would give up Stephens or Birchall in a heartbeat over him. Please Montreal, pick that other guy!

    Reply

  20. [...] three mock drafts side by side; we beat them all. Black and Red United got three. The Shin Guardian got two right. Maybe someone else got more right, but I haven’t seen [...]

    Reply

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