There has been a significant quantity of hand wringing over the Sounders protected list. The merits and perceived weaknesses of all of the bubble players both on and off the list have been mangled beyond recognition. Time to step back and recognize a few salient facts.
1. The Sounders hated having to generate this list as much as we hate seeing it. They live and work with these men on a daily basis and value their contributions to the team. Leaving them unprotected was agonizing.
2. No amount of hand wringing on the part of the fans is going to change anything. The list is done. The fate of the unprotected Sounders is now in the hands of Montreal. In all likelihood one of these men will no longer be a Sounder after the draft. At this point it is probably appropriate for all of us to agree to disagree on who was left on or off the list and move on.
3. None of us is privy to the offseason plans of the Sounders FO beyond knowing that they are actively pursuing a GK.
But looking at the list of protected players may reveal information about those plans. For example, the Sounders chose to protect a fairly expensive list of players while exposing some of the more economical elements of their bench. It is not unreasonable to infer that they don't expect to make many major moves in the offseason simply due to cap restrictions. After they secure a GK and finalize Mauro's contract extension, the number of big ticket moves they will be able to make will be small. Realistically, short of a trade, they will likely only have the cap room to make one additional major move.
It is also telling that they chose to protect their midfield depth while exposing all of the starting FBs and some of their forwards. Montreal can only choose one player, so regardless of who is selected, all but one of these men will still be a Sounder on Thursday. Yet, it may indicate that the team is looking in these areas for an upgrade or at the least a shift.
Only time will tell how the offseason unfolds. Whoever the Sounders lose to expansion will be missed but the Sounders will move forward and the hope for next year will still burn brightly.