Note: this has been updated because I admittedly forgot about the HG player rule and them being automatically corrected and was not aware that it is now 12 players instead of 11.
ICYMI, MLS cup happened, and it was actually enjoyable even though I wish the other team had won.
And since it is silly season, let's start with a very silly thing that MLS still thinks it needs to do. Yes, the expansion draft.
PTFC lost Valentin two drafts ago so the club was hook last time but not this year. So, Ned gets to pick
11 12 players that he is going to make sure are safe and going to play for St. Louis (or the team they picked him for to make the trade for to get the xAM which St. Louis just should have gotten in the first place--yes, silly!).
There is only one team picking and they only get 5 and there will be plenty of players to choose from so PTFC losing a player is not all the great. But, better safe than sorry.
So, here are my thoughts about who needs to stick around and who can be unprotected. And, this year seems easier than other years because 5 years ago you absolutely would have locked up the Dos Diegos, Blanco, Mabiala and this year we don't.
Leave unprotected without hesitation:
Sebastian Blanco: Too high of a salary, getting older and trouble staying healthy.
Jaroslaw Niezgoda: Underperforming DP
Yimmi Chara: See above
Larrys Mabiala: A vet like him could be a good asset, I guess. But, very unlikely given age and salary. Let's just admit the St. Louis would be doing us a gigantic favor if they picked up one of the above.
David Bingham: Low likelihood he would get picked and getting another backup GK won't be that hard.
Protect without hesitation:
Aljaz Ivacic: Who had him as Supporters Player of the Year on your bingo card in May?
Claudio Bravo: Young and good LBs are not easy to find.
Bill Tuiloma: Hey, anyone want an MLS veteran CB in his prime that can also give you a few free kick goals a year?
Zac McGraw: Good upside and a low salary? Yeah, he would be snatched up so lock him up.
Santi Moreno: Does this need explanation?
Eryk Williamson: Yeah, he might want out, but still don't let him leave for nothing. Homegrown player; no need to protect.
Dairon Asprilla: Leading scorer from last year and pretty sad that he may be our most consistent goal scoring threat.
Juan David Mosquera: Looked pretty good the few games he played. RB of the future.
Nathan: With Mora being injured and Niezgoda possibly on the way out, we probably need forward depth and he's young and has upside.
Dario Zuparic: Are we staying with 3 in the back? If so, probably better protect. Plus, if Mabiala is gone this leaves PTFC thin at CB even if we do bring someone else in. (this was one I moved up from questionable since we now have two more slots.
The ones that are left and are a question mark:
Diego Chara: Yes, this seems like sacrilege, but is St. Louis going to take a 36-year-old? (And yes, I feel bad for typing this.)
Cristhian Paredes: Solid player and we're going to have to give DC a rest every now and then.
Felipe Mora: Is he a risk being taken after his injury and he is also 30?
David Ayala: Is young but did he show enough for St. Louis to be interested?
Marvin Loria: Low salary guy that seems like a good team guy and good depth piece.
Justin Rasmussen: Probably will never be anything other than a backup, but depth is never bad.
Pablo Bonilla: Is his time up here?
I am not going to concern myself with Sulte, Gutierrez and
Ikoba (HG) as they are T2 players mostly and think they will be left unprotected. I think that is everyone on the senior roster.
I also think who we protect depends on what the plan for this year is. Are we going to make big moves to get back into the playoffs and make a run? Or are we going to have a rebuilding year and let our young players get playing time and not worry as much about results next year? If it's the former, we protect Diego Chara and Paredes. If it's the latter, I would pick Paredes and Ayala since we don't know what is happening with Eryk.
Curious what other's thoughts are about who needs to stay. Who would you switch around?