The Chicago Fire have announced the players the club will protect—and will leave unprotected—ahead of Tuesday’s Austin FC Expansion Draft, and it gives a clear picture of which players the club feels are most important.
Nine players were left unprotected by the club, most notably Boris Sekulić, Johan Kappelhof, Kenneth Kronholm, Elliot Collier and Wyatt Omsberg. The other four players are guys the team has already announced are not coming back: CJ Sapong, Brandt Bronico, Micheal Azira and Connor Sparrow.
The club was able to protect 12 players: midfielder Ignacio Aliseda, forward Robert Berić, defender Jonathan Bornstein, defender Francisco Calvo, midfielder Przemysław Frankowski, midfielder Gastón Giménez, midfielder Fabian Herbers, midfielder Álvaro Medrán, defender Miguel Navarro, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, midfielder Luka Stojanović, and defender Carlos Terán.
Homegrown players born during or after 1995 are automatically protected, so these players are all safe: goalkeeper Chris Brady, midfielder Javier Casas Jr., midfielder Brian Gutiérrez, midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr, midfielder Djordje Mihailović, midfielder Alex Monis, defender Andre Reynolds II, midfielder Allan Rodriguez, defender/midfielder Mauricio Pineda, goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, and defender Nicholas Slonina.
The draft is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m CT. Austin FC will be able to select up to five players to add to its inaugural roster for next season. Once one player has been selected from a team’s unprotected roster, that team cannot lose any further players.
Sixteen MLS clubs had to make players available for the draft. The remaining ten were exempt, after having players selected in last year’s Expansion Draft: Atlanta United FC, Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati, Los Angeles FC, Minnesota United FC, New England Revolution, New York City FC, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City.