The sun rose over this cold Sunday in December, the first official day of the offseason. You’d think that, hours after Toronto hoisted the MLS Cup and with fans still nursing hangovers, the league might give everyone a day to catch their breaths before launching into offseason madness.
You would be wrong.
First there was the half-day trade window, which started way too early in the gottang morning on a Sunday. A handful of deals were made, some sensible and others very Galaxy Brain. The Fire made a move of their own, sending Arturo Alvarez to Houston for a second round draft pick.
With the trade window out of the way, teams across the league started announcing their protected lists ahead of the Expansion Draft on Tuesday.
For those who need a quick refresher: every team has to select 11 players to shield from selection in the draft. Homegrown Players are protected automatically, and teams get to pick another 11 on top of that to make sure their best players don’t go wandering off to LAFC. Teams can only lose one player to the Expansion Draft, so no one team can have their roster completely raided. There’s a bunch of other complicated rules too; it’s MLS, it’s weird, I don’t even pretend to understand it all.
Earlier today the Fire announced their protected list, along with who they’re leaving exposed. Without further ado, here’s who’s definitely not going anywhere on Tuesday and who could potentially find themselves being sent to SoCal.
Protected (11): David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac, Brandon Vincent
Unprotected (13): David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Matej Dekovic, John Goossens, Michael Harrington, Daniel Johnson, Matt Lampson, Joao Meira
Homegrown (5): Joey Calistri, Drew Conner, Patrick Doody, Collin Fernandez, Djordje Mihailovic
For what it’s worth, this is more or less what we had for SBN’s Mock Expansion Draft last week, with a few exceptions. We left Juninho unprotected— since he’s leaving anyway— and we kept Michael de Leeuw and Matt Lampson. (We also kept Alvarez, which is a moot point now.)
The Fire leaving MdL exposed is... an interesting choice. I can only guess they feel they can cut bait with him because they’re pursuing an attacker with a similar skillset. Obviously, you can never assume anything with this team or the league, but reading the tea leaves on this one lends to some interesting speculation.
We’ll be monitoring the Expansion Draft on Tuesday afternoon and will post updates if/when any of our guys feel the irresistible pull of sunshine and art deco visual branding.