Earlier this week SB Nation welcomed two new blogs to the fold to represent the two new incoming teams in MLS: The Mane Land for Orlando City FC and Hudson River Blue for New York City FC. To kick off their tenure with Major League Soccer, we held a Mock Expansion Draft ahead of the real deal next Wednesday.
For the Portland Timbers there has been a lot of hand wringing over who to protect in the expansion draft. The question of who to leave exposed among the trio of Will Johnson, Liam Ridgewell, and Gaston Fernandez has proven a tricky one, particularly given the assumption that whichever player is left unprotected will be taken.
In the end, Liam Ridgewell and his Designated Player contract was left out in the open by our own Chris Rifer.
After ten rounds and twenty picks in the mock draft, however, Ridgewell remained with the Timbers and it was journeyman defender Danny O'Rourke who was plucked off the roster by Orlando City FC.
Passing over Ridgewell, plus available players like Michael Harrington, Pa Modou Kah, and Norberto Paparatto, came as a bit of a surprise, but O'Rourke's versatility, experience, and cheap price tag certainly beckoned to a team that has largely been constructed of younger players coming up through the Orlando USL system. (Plus Kaka.)
Still, with trades to be made, cuts to be announced, and plenty of changes to come before the expansion draft itself, this result rings hollow.
While O'Rourke was a valuable member of the team in their ultimately disappointing 2014 campaign, the Timbers could stand to lose much more if a team were to propose a trade for Ridgewell, or if Kah and Paparatto were raided, or in any number of other circumstances.
The true protected lists will be released on Monday, at which time the real worrying can begin, but for now the expansion draft should remain a source of vague dread for Timbers fans everywhere, even if they are fine with losing a player like O'Rourke.