There is a minor inconvenience to making MLS Cup. Shortly after it the Cup there is the Expansion Draft, when Minnesota United and Atlanta United take five players each. That’s on Tuesday the 13th. On Sunday the 11th MLS has a half-day trade window. On Monday the 12th the Free Agent list and the Expansion Draft protected lists come out. After the 11 AM Expansion Draft on the 13th at 2 PM Free Agents may start negotiations with any team.
It is a busy quick few days that start the offseason. President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey’s focus are on the hard decisions that start now, while most of the organization focuses on winning MLS Cup.
Who will Lagerwey protect? We have some pretty good ideas, and since E Pluribis Loonum and Dirty South Soccer are about to have their mock Expansion Draft here is the list Sounder at Heart submitted as protected players.
- Osvaldo Alonso (TAM)
- Roman Torres (international, TAM)
- Cristian Roldan
- Stefan Frei
- Nicolas Lodeiro (international, DP)
- Chad Marshall
- Joevin Jones (internatioal)
- Clint Dempsey (DP)
- Brad Evans
- Tony Alfaro
- Andreas Ivanschitz (international)
The first eight protected players are obvious for a few reasons. Our Protectinator had 93% or more protect the first seven and Clint Dempsey has to be protected as he has a no-trade clause.
The disagreements arose around the final three on the list. Those three, as well as Erik Friberg, create a debate about judging 2017 value versus the 2018 plan. Alvaro Fernandez also belongs in this discussion as his contract runs through 2017 too.
Protecting Alfaro is a signal that the Sounders are looking towards the future. They also have Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford as young CBs. Two of those are likely to be on the 2017 roster. With Zach Scott retiring the team needs at least one backup CB and if Brad Evans becomes a right back or flex 12th man they will likely carry four pure CBs on the 1st team roster.
Two other young players could also wind up protected - Tyler Miller and Oalex Anderson. But Seattle has two young keepers, so losing one would be a slight set-back, but not major. At forward not only do they have Darwin Jones and Victor Mansaray (both with strong USL seasons) their best prospects in college are also forwards. Losing Anderson would mean a larger push to sign their own youth.
Interesting decisions come with the older players. Garth wants to get younger, but it is likely that Evans, Fernandez, Friberg and Ivanschitz can contribute in 2017. They cannot protect them all, and in the end maybe neither AUFC or MUFC want an older MLS vet. Keeping Evans keeps a captain who is still capable of starting as a CB, RB, RM, CM and CDM in MLS. The fringe USMNT player may get bumped out of a starting lineup spot due to other signings, but every MLS team needs depth. Evans would be perfect at that even at his high salary.
Protecting Friberg keeps a player capable of playing as a CM or wide mid with strong positional sense and good long passing, but those are skills that could be replaced through young talent on the USL roster. Fernandez provides more in possession in similar spaces. Since the team can only lose one of these similar players (in regards to position played) they don’t need to protect both.
Ivanschitz can change games when he is just the sauce rather than the entree. Once Lodeiro arrived on the scene the lower pressure spaces Ivanschitz takes have enabled him to look like the strong player of 2015 rather than the somewhat weaker mid of early 2016. He is probably only a bench player in 2017, but that’s due to Seattle’s ability to add another DP and/or TAM player in the coming offseason, not because Andreas isn’t MLS quality.
If Lagerwey protects the same people Sounder at Heart would, then the list of available players is;
- Oalex Anderson (i)
- Michael Farfan
- Alvaro Fernandez (i)
- Oniel Fisher (i)
- Erik Friberg (i)
- Herculez Gomez
- Damion Lowe (i)
- Charlie Lyon
- Tyrone Mears (i)
- Tyler Miller
- Jimmy Ockford
- Dylan Remick
- Zach Scott
- Nathan Sturgis
- Nelson Haedo Valdez (i, DP)