Ask 10 Seattle Sounders fans who they would like to see protected in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft and you're probably going to get 10 slightly different answers. Just about everyone can agree that Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso should be protected, but beyond those three there seems to be at least some level of dissent.
Among the Sounder at Heart crew, we can basically form a little more agreement. All of us believe Steve Zakuani, Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado belong on the Sounders' protection list. That still leaves five spots on which reasonably like minds can not find universal agreement. Yes, one of us even felt Alvaro Fernandez was worth leaving exposed.
Those five spots are taken up by seven different players, with at least four more being worthy of some level of consideration. After the jump, you'll see each of our lists with some kind of explanation.
Jeremiah's list: Montero, Rosales, Alonso, Zakuani, Parke, Hurtado, Fernandez, Friberg, Evans, Fucito, Neagle.
Jeremiah's thinking: It's generally believed that the Sounders should only protect either Friberg or Evans, but I'm starting to think differently. Both players are reasonably priced and highly versatile. If either is left exposed, I believe the Montreal Impact won't be able to help themselves from taking them.
For me, the biggest gamble is leaving Sammy Ochoa exposed. But I just don't see him intriguing the Impact all that much. Maybe they end up taking Servando Carrasco, but that too is a risk I feel is worth taking.
Dave's list: Rosales, Montero, Alonso, Fernandez, Zakuani, Parke, Hurtado, Riley, Friberg, Ochoa and Fucito.
Dave's thinking: There are 8 guys that I think are no brainers. MVP quality players like Rosales, Montero, Alonso, Fernandez and healthy Zakuani. Into that I drop Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. OK, maybe my 8th is debatable, but Riley is still cheaper than his quality, even if you think he's a merely average RB who is too often out of position.
So I have three slots where the debate is iffy. All in that group for me are 24-26. Two are pricier and 3 are cheap. I'm going to assume that Seattle has to protect Friberg and so he's protected. Leaving Evans open risks losing him, but his regular injuries and cost make it a bit less likely that he'll be taken.
Down to two slots with three cheap and potentially potent players I protect the two forwards - Ochoa and Fucito. Primarily because their losses are more significant than the potential of losing Neagle. Now, I like what Lamar did in 2011 and he's got a great story, but he's probably pushed so far down the depth chart that the team can afford to lose him. Players left open with strong value to Montreal would be Evans, Wahl, Gonzalez, Neagle and Carrasco.
MalcontentJake's thinking: I can only do this by filling out a lineup:
So that's 8 (and let's not dwell on Flaco as a CM for now). Other's worth considering (in no particular order) Friberg, Fucito, Neagle, Ochoa, so that's 12 (am I forgetting anyone?)
Other's I suspect are higher priorities for the team than me (in no particular order):Evans, Wahl, Riley. The wildcard: OBW (remember him?) is he even worth consideration of a protected spot because of his issues?
Aaron's list: Montero, Rosales, Fernandez, Alonso, Parke, Hurtado, Zakuani, Friberg, Ochoa, Fucito, Neagle
Sidereal's list: Montero, Alonso, Rosales, Zakuani, Hurtado, Fucito, Neagle, Ochoa, Riley, Parke, Friberg
Sidereal's thinking: I've notably left off Fernandez. Assuming Zak comes back okay, I have no idea where he'd play and we're paying him a lot. I think he can play in the middle, but Sigi clearly doesn't like him there and he'd know better than I would. He's certainly not a defensive presence there. It's a lot of cash (and a DP spot) for a first-sub winger. Especially when Neagle has been so productive (cheaply) in the same position if Zakuani does take more time to come back. So if Montreal wants him, I can live with it. And I think it's very unlikely they'd take him anyway, which lets us hold on to Ochoa or Riley.
Dizzo's list: Hurtado, Parke, Riley, Zakuani, Alonso, Friberg, Rosales, Fernandez, Neagle, Montero, Fucito
Dizzo's thinking: I pretty much decided to pick the best players down the center of the pitch (i.e. the core) since we learned in 2010 how important that core is. Friberg gets the nod over Evans both for being one of three internationals and for generally being healthier. Fucito is the best of the other forwards so he gets the other forward spot.
Outside the core I went with who I thought was the best long-term value. Rosales is a league MVP level player so he's valuable at pretty much anything below a DP contract. Zakuani, if he returns to full form, is also a league MVP level player so you really have to pick him and hope for a good recovery. Fernandez has a level of skill that can be hard to find in MLS and I think he still has some value to the organization as a potential transfer. Neagle gets the last spot simply on a value for contract basis.