With the 2017 season coming up quickly, the MLS blogs here at SB Nation got together to give our newest compatriots, Dirty South Soccer and E Pluribus Loonum, the traditional welcome gift: a mock expansion draft.
The real deal is coming up next Tuesday for Atlanta United and Minnesota United, but in the mean time each SB Nation blog contributed a list of protected players and early this week the new blogs on the block made their picks. After the dust had cleared, the Portland Timbers were down a man.
Round 3, Pick 1: Atlanta United selects Jack McInerney from Portland Timbers
The hometown hero returneth. This move has seemed on the cards for years ever since it was announced that Atlanta would receive an MLS franchise. Jack McInerney grew up playing youth soccer in Georgia and has spoken in the past about a desire to play in Atlanta one day.
He seems a good bet to be left unprotected in the real draft and was in our mock draft. With a scoring track record like his, we couldn’t pass on him. Admittedly, this was before the club signed another striker in Brandon Vazquez, but his addition doesn’t necessarily alter this pick. Kenwyne Jones will only be able to play so many games this season with international duty and overall wear-and-tear of a long year. The club will need a reliable back-up for those grueling double-game weeks or short turnarounds from an international break. It’s unclear at this point if they view Vazquez as a short-term candidate for that role. It couldn’t hurt having someone of McInerney’s experience on the roster to ensure you have that reliable option.
McInerney has been a difficult player to quantify for the Timbers both in terms of his stats and his general fit with the team. Although he has been a consistent goalscorer throughout his career, including his time Portland where he scored seven goals in all competitions in 2016, McInerney just does not seem to bring the other dimensions that the Timbers need from a forward in order to be successful in their current set up.
Of course, McInerney could just as easily have been protected as not. There is plenty of lively debate to be had over who makes the list and who does not; and with offseason moves yet to come it is easy to envision a situation where the Timbers would want to hold on to him.
So, McInerney is not on his way out the door just yet, but this serves as another reminder that the offseason is not only about twiddling one’s thumbs and waiting for the preseason to begin.