Welcome to From The Upper Deck, my blog about RSL and soccer in general. I have a lot of passion for the beautiful game. I am just a fan that likes to sit in the upper deck and take it all in.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Dreaded Expansion Draft

By Charles Barnard

It is coming. Time is marching on and it will be here soon. And now it’s even sooner……and now it is even sooner….. It is coming and there is nothing that we can do to stop it. It is that thing we are all afraid of. It is that thing that we all dread. What is it? The MLS Expansion Draft.

It is fun seeing the growth of MLS. It is exciting to hear about all these cities that want to form new teams. And it is great seeing the excitement of these fan bases as their teams actually join the league. The downside of all this though is the expansion draft. That day when a member (or members) of your soccer family gets ripped away and put into new colors. It is a day that we all dread. And it is quickly approaching again.

Before looking at RSL specifically, let’s review the rules of the last expansion draft that occurred in 2014 (this year’s rules have yet to be released). As two teams will be coming into the league again next year, the rules will probably be very similar to what they were in 2014.

A few days prior to the draft, each MLS team submits to the league a protection list. The list would be comprised of 11 players that are protected from being selected in the draft. Along with those players, all Homegrown players are automatically protected as well as all Generation Adidas players. Once a player is selected in the draft, the team is then able to submit one additional player to their protection list. Once a team has two players selected, they were exempt from having any additional players selected. In the 2014 draft, Ned Grabavoy and Chris Wingert were selected in the draft.

One benefit that RSL does have going into this draft is the amount of players that are automatically protected. These are the current players on the roster that will not be eligible for the draft.

Danilo Acosta (Homegrown)
Jordan Allen (Homegrown)
Lalo Fernandez (Homegrown)
Justen Glad (Homegrown)
Omar Holness (Generation Adidas)
Phanuel Kavita (Homegrown)

So who should RSL protect this year? That is going to be the big question going into the offseason. For some players, it is pretty easy to determine if you protect them or not. Others, it might be a little harder to decide. A common assumption is that a team should protect their 11 best players. In my mind, it is more important to protect the 11 players that the two expansion teams will want the most. Those two lists don't always match.

Will an expansion team want Javier Morales who will be 37 at the start of the 2017 season? RSL will actually have 5 players over the age of 35 next season (Rimando/Morales/Olave/Wingert/Beckerman). How many of those players do you protect? Or do you gamble and protect other players in the hopes that these aging players do not get taken? Do you protect a young an up-and-coming player like Boyd Okwuonu or do you leave him unprotected in the hopes that he might slip by unnoticed?

These questions (and so many more) will need to be answered. I personally have just begun to debate these questions in my own mind. There are so many things to weigh when considering who to protect. And I am not even taking some factors into consideration like contract length (which is hard information to obtain). I will write a follow up article in the next week or so going over the 11 I would chose to protect. In the meantime, who would you protect? Leave your answers down in the comments or tweet at me (ccb1212) and let me know your list.

And time is still marching on……

(Bonus points to you if you get the song reference in this post)