Some might disagree, but I would protect Daniel Woolard from the MLS expansion draft
Alright. Y'all already had your shot. The Protectinator was our attempt at crowdsourcing the D.C. United protection list for next week's MLS expansion draft, in which Jesse Marsch will be selecting 10 players to be inaugural members of the Montreal Impact.
Now its my turn. In a feature column today for SB Nation D.C., I revealed the 11 players that I would choose to protect on United's roster. And yes, there are some differences from the 11 players that the consensus picked in the Protectinator poll. After the five virtual locks (Dwayne De Rosario, Perry Kitchen, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Pontius, and Brandon McDonald), here are explanations for the other six players that I would protect.
The list gets just a bit murkier after those five building blocks are secured, but Santino Quaranta, Chris Korb, and Josh Wolff should all be protected with little question. Quaranta missed much of the season with concussion symptoms, but was a vital piece for United's attack late in the year. Whether starting in place of the injured Pontius or coming on as a substitute, Quaranta was always involved, and finished the season with a goal and four assists. Korb is one of United's promising young players who was called into action more often than many would have guessed due to injuries to other defenders. D.C.'s second round draft choice earned two assists in 12 games in 2011. On the opposite side of his career, Wolff took over Jaime Moreno's job of veteran leader of the attack quite capably, notching five goals and seven assists on the year.
The final three spots on United's expansion draft protection list face some steep competition. The team could choose to protect Montenegran designated player Branko Boskovic, who saw the field only four times in 2011 due to injury. Boskovic has shown the potential to be an elite MLS player, but has not yet made an impact on the league, and carries a heavy price tag that would likely prevent an expansion team from drafting him. Charlie Davies is also a candidate for protection after scoring 11 goals for D.C. this season, but he is only in MLS on a one-year loan, and appears more likely to return to Europe this offseason. The Impact would be taking a major risk by selecting either Davies or Boskovic, therefore rendering them unlikely to earn protection from United.
The players most likely to occupy the final three protected spots are Clyde Simms, Stephen King, and Daniel Woolard. Simms has been a starter for United in the defensive midfield since 2007, but looks likely to lose his job to Kitchen going into next year. Still, Simms has a high value for Olsen as a substitute, and would be a starter for many other teams in this league. United wouldn't want to lose him without receiving compensation in return, so Simms should make the protection list. King and Woolard each appeared in more than 20 matches for United in 2011 and are two of Olsen's favorites, making them also the favorites to earn the final two spots on the 11-man protected list.
This will leave Austin Da Luz, Blake Brettschneider, and Joe Willis on the outside looking in, and as the most likely candidates to be selected by the Impact. Da Luz arrived in D.C. in a trade with the New York Red Bulls midway through the season and was a frequent contributor, while Brettschneider earned a goal and two assists for his work as a forward this season after getting drafted by United in the fourth round. Willis filled in admirably for Hamid in goal when necessary in three matches, and could be a capable backup again next year. But each of these three players is fairly replaceable if selected. While United would certainly hope not to lose them, moving on without Da Luz, Brettschneider, or Willis wouldn't be impossible.