With the ending of D.C. United’s season all but official, it’s time to look towards the future.
United has plenty of young and promising players who will continue to develop and contribute over the coming years. What sucks though is that we might be losing one or two of them in November.
Yes, the expansion draft is just over three months away, and it’s never too early to start preparations.
With two new franchises entering MLS in 2011, and utilizing the assumption that the drafting rules will be identical to those used in the past, 20 players will change teams just a few days after the MLS Cup. Ten will go to the Vancouver Whitecaps, and ten will go to the Portland Timbers. I’ve always thought that it’s a shame that one or two players will only get to celebrate with their MLS Cup winning team for two or three days before being shipped out of town. Seems a bit harsh, but that’s the reality.
If the rules are not different from previous expansion drafts then each MLS team will get to protect ten current players. But there’s one thing that might be different this year.
At least I really hope it’s different.New to the formal MLS roster rules in 2010 was the addition of homegrown players – young players signed directly from a team’s developmental academy who do not count against the maximum 24-man roster. D.C. United has used this rule to their advantage more than any other team in the league. United has two homegrown players – Andy Najar and Bill Hamid – and each is probably worthy of protection in an expansion draft.
I have a feeling that the league will rule that homegrown players do not need to be protected in order to remain with their current teams. That has always been the rule for Generation Adidas players, and it’s likely that it will be the same for homegrown players.
If United doesn’t have to include Najar and Hamid in their list of ten protected players, the team isn’t likely to lose a key contributor in the draft. If not though, we could be in trouble. I’m sure Kevin Payne is lobbying the league as we speak to make sure that they go the right way with this.
Getting down to business, and making the assumption that homegrown players are safe, there are certain obvious choices for D.C. United: Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta, Rodney Wallace, Clyde Simms, Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Branko Boskovic, and Pablo Hernandez. That’s eight.
As for the last two spots, arguments can be made for several individuals:
Troy Perkins – The team gave up a lot to get him, and when he is playing well, he is among the best goalkeepers in MLS.
Marc Burch – Protected in years past, but hasn’t been a big factor this season due to injuries. The next three months will be huge for him.
Devon McTavish – Versatile utility player seems to have landed the starting right back position. The team has left him exposed previously.
Jordan Graye – The team’s fourth round draft pick and regular starter up until last week has shown plenty of maturity as well as potential.
Danny Allsopp – If Hernandez can help him get on track and start scoring, he might make this a hard decision.
Jaime Moreno – Olsen retired just days before the draft last year. What will Moreno do?
Stephen King – Many thought the Union would select him last year after the Sounders left him exposed. Could be a popular target again.
Kurt Morsink – Has the potential to be a league MVP (God I hope the Portland and Vancouver general managers read this!)
Who would you like to see D.C. United protect?