The MLS silly season is in full swing, and this week it will conduct an expansion draft for St. Louis CITY SC. St. Louis are still building their roster and will have the opportunity to select up to five players from other teams. This could impact the Chicago Fire, so here’s everything you need to know.
Who is automatically protected?
Firstly, every club that had a player picked in last year’s expansion draft is ineligible for this draft. Thus, Austin FC, Atlanta United FC, DC United, LAFC, and NYCFC are all in the clear. The Fire, though, are not.
Any homegrown player under 25 is automatically protected, too, though. That means that Brian Gutiérrez, Mauricio Pineda, Javi Casas Jr, Victor Bezerra, Alex Monis, Chris Brady, Sergio Oregel Jr, Missael Rodríguez, Allan Rodríguez, and Justin Reynolds are all protected. Even though Andre Reynolds II is leaving the club, he, too, is ineligible for the draft.
Who should the Fire protect?
The Fire would receive $50,000 in GAM as compensation if a player is picked. So, who should be protected to avoid losing a player for that fee?
Jhon Durán — It’s a no brainer to protect Durán. He’ll either be a key player next season, or will leave the club for $10 million or higher. It would be silly to leave him exposed.
Chris Mueller — Mueller has been one of the best players for the Fire since his arrival in the Spring, there’s no doubt he’ll remain a key piece in 2023.
Xherdan Shaqiri — It would be ridiculous to leave as big of an investment as Shaqiri unprotected.
Gastón Giménez — Like Shaqiri, Gastón is too big of an investment to lose for next to nothing. The team is also lacking in midfield depth.
Fede Navarro — U22 initiative players, unlike homegrowns, are not protected, so Navarro is protected.
Rafa Czichos — As the captain of the team Czichos will continue to be a core player next season.
Carlos Terán — Terán will be fighting for the starting job in 2023 and is currently the incumbent at center back; he will be back next year.
Wyatt Omsberg — Omsberg will battle with Terán for the starting job and was one of the Fire’s better players in 2022.
Miguel Navarro — As currently the only left back on the first team roster, Navarro has to stick around, and of course, he will be protected.
Kendall Burks — Burks should be protected because he is a depth piece that will be valuable in 2023. Ezra Hendrickson has stated that Burks will play a bigger role next year than he did in 2022, and he has the potential to be a very useful player for this team.
Jairo Torres — The Mexican DP has been a huge letdown and disappointment in Chicago, but as a $6 million investment, it would be a ludicrous decision to risk losing him for $50,000 in GAM. The incentive for the Fire is to get as much as possible back on that investment, even if it takes a year or two.
Kacper Przybyłko — The Fire should get rid of Przybyłko this offseason, no doubt. However, his signing in 2022 cost $1.25 million in GAM, and losing him for a twenty-fifth of that would be a catastrophe.
Who would be left unprotected?
Jonathan Bornstein — Though both Boris Sekulić and Jonathan Bornstein are out of contract, they are still eligible for this draft, technically as members of the Fire roster. There’s no reason to protect them.
Boris Sekulić — Sekulić had an interest in staying with the Fire, and there’s a good chance his next club is elsewhere in MLS. St Louis could add him to their expansion roster if they offer him a new contract, and that would be a great addition for them.
Stanislav Ivanov — The Bulgarian winger rarely plays for the Fire and has been a huge failure of a signing. He will likely be sold in January, and he will be left unprotected.
Spencer Richey — It's unclear what the goalkeeping situation is for 2023. Hendrickson has said that goalkeeper is a position in which the Fire could invest, and with Chris Brady locked in for next year, there’s a chance that Richey is replaced.
Jhon Espinoza — Espinoza is simply not at the level to play in MLS, so if St Louis wants to take him, there shouldn’t be any complaints.
Fabian Herbers — This is a tough one, but Herbers is someone who could be left unprotected. He isn’t a key player on the team, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he were to be picked up with the Fire receiving some allocation money.