The Trade - Peter Vagenas for Julien Baudet and Danny Earls
MLS had a ton of activity on Protected List Day this year. Several trades went down and the Sounders were in on one of them (Initial News, Press Release, UZ over at BW, UZ here). In the short term it seems this deal was done by Colorado so that they could protect an additional domestic player, but it should be noted that it was also likely a salary dump. Julien Baudet is nearly a half cap player and made about 60K$ more than Vagenas. Danny Earls is in that young area above a Reserve but still cap exempt (think Nyassi, Fucito), and while the wee former Villan may not be good yet, he's also the key to the deal.
From a depth chart perspective Seattle dealt their 5th CM in 2011, at best, for a guy who would be (pending Expansion Draft) at best the 3rd, likely 4th, CB and a 21 year-old that can be the 2nd or 3rd LB. Under last year's roster rules this would have been a bad deal. But with 30 man rosters, and the Re-Entry Draft I think Earls is the key, and how he develops under someone who has a strong history of player development (that's Sigi we often forget his UCLA and U-20 coaching experience) will determine this deal's overall impact in 2012.
The Protected List - Keller, Parke, Hurtado, Alsono, Riley, Evans, Fernandez, Zakuani, Fucito, Montero, Jaqua
The "surprises" were really only 3 guys. Nate Jaqua was protected over Blaise Nkufo; Brad Evans was protected over Nate Sturgis or Patrick Ianni; and Mike Fucito was chosen over Sanna Nyassi. Altogether this List averages 26.9 years old, but a part of that is Mr Kasey Keller. Dropping Keller shrinks the average age to 25.5. Seattle's core likely to get younger for 2011, but will do it with experienced players.
With this list Seattle protects 73% of its offense, and it is probable that they retain 80% or more as I don't think that both Nyassi and Nkufo will be lost. The defensive triangle to start 2011 is now a known item as well. If JKH's health was at all an issue they would have protected Ianni. We'll find out in 24 hours if Ianni is the 3rd CB or if Baudet, Marshall and Graham are battling for that rotational slot.
The last choice chose someone in their peak age over someone who is still quite raw and developing. The Nyassi v Fucito debate has happened so often on this site that I don't know what else to say besides this. I couldn't be more excited by the decision. While Sanna may become a good player, Fucito clearly is right now. If that knee injury hadn't ripped out half the season Fucito would have been in the 1500-2000 minute range playing as a WF, LW and RW instead of Nyassi, Levesque, Noonan while spelling Zakuani and Montero. I think he's capable of a 9+ Goal, 4+ Assist numbers, if not more.
The Likely Losses - Nkufo, Ianni, Sturgis, Nyassi
While some might put Leo Gonzalez on that list, his age and contract make other outside backs more likely to be taken. The Expansion Draft will really just give us our first opportunity to see how the staffs in Vancouver and Portland think about team construction.
Both have a ton of Cap room, so the size of contracts will not be a concern. Vancouver already has a strong youth system, and so will likely go with middling veterans who can be a stop gap. They also already have one Designated Player. Even if they plan on going with 3 DPs in year one, Blaise is probably not their first target for that with Julian De Guzman available, unless of course the Nkufo thing was preordained from day one of his signing. I actually expect them to go with Sturgis or Nyassi. One is in his peak, with a few years of experience and is capable of handling the midfield in ways that the Whitecaps have enjoyed at lower levels. The other is international, young and capable of flash, but needs development time and they could turn him into something special.
With Portland the early speculation centers on Ianni. He has a connection to their coach, and is an MLS caliber starter at centerback. While those connections are useful in speculation, let's also remember that hometown/coaching connections weren't the strongest influences in either Expansion Draft in which Seattle has been involved. Philly didn't just pick South Jersey/Philly area players with connections to their coach. Remember we thought that Parke or King would be picked for those reasons? Seattle ignored several players with local ties, and instead crafted a team around their operating philosophy, not regional origin.
Expect the other Cascadia teams to do this too. Neither will pick players based on their locale, they will instead pick players who they think will help them win in years one, two and three of their existence.
So, on Sounder at Heart's biggest readership day in its young life, on a day when I probably wanted to spend six hours writing and conversing with you I was instead one of the tens of thousands that were stuck in the heavy traffic caused by the weather and poor driving skills of this populace.
So Sidereal and Jeremiah carried the day. I got to use my Droid Eris to pass emails, texts, tweets to either or both of them, but I was essentially disconnected. But it wasn't just they who carried the site on a great day.
A few readers used the FanShots and FanPosts to update with the news of the day, the rumors and to use this place as their focus for conversation. Particular thanks to chrisperry1983 and reesebw, as well as joesz and moyerLives. Their posts on the overall expansion lists, MLS Cup and FIFA's upcoming hosting decision contributed to the community's knowledge base.
Anyone can use those tools as well. Sometimes they will get bumped to the frontpage, sometimes they will get rec:s and stay alive with hundreds of comments.