UPDATED: The consensus is that Jonathan Lewis has one more year with Generation adidas, even though it can’t be confirmed with MLS, so I’ve updated my protected list.
The 2019 MLS Expansion Draft is coming up on Tuesday, November 19 at 5:30 p.m. ET. It will be an opportunity for Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC—the two newest expansion teams—to add some experienced players to their rosters. Each current club’s list of protected and unprotected players will be released on Friday, November 14 before 8 p.m. ET. and D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, and New York Red Bulls are exempt from this year’s Expansion Draft, as they all had players selected by FC Cincinnati last year.
- Inter Miami won the coin toss and chose to go first
- Each expansion side can choose five players total and no more than one player per club
- Current MLS clubs can protect 12 players total from their Senior, Supplemental, and Reserve Rosters. According to the official MLS Expansion Draft rules, “if the player’s contract expires at the end of 2019, he will still be considered part of the club’s Roster. If a club protects a player, it is not obligated to exercise the player’s option. It may renegotiate a new contract with the player as in previous years, subject to the CBA. Option Decline Free Agents and Out of Contract Free Agents are part of the Expansion Draft and are not automatically protected.”
- Generation adidas players and Homegrown Players 25 years old and under are automatically protected
- DPs are not automatically protected
- If a player has a no-trade clause in his contract, he must be on the protected list
- “Clubs with four or more international players must protect at least three international players, excluding any automatically protected players. If a Club has only three international players, it must protect two. If a Club has only two international players, it must protect one. A Club that has only one international player is not required to protect that player.”
Who the Colorado Rapids should protect
First, the guys who are automatically protected, in alphabetical order.
- Sebastian Anderson
- Cole Bassett
- Kortne Ford
- Matt Hundley
- Jonathan Lewis (the consensus is that he has one more year left with Generation adidas)
- Sam Raben
- Dillon Serna (barely included, since he is 25 years old this year)
- Sam Vines
Here’s my list of who is left and (in my opinion) should be protected, in alphabetical order. The Rapids currently have six international players on the roster, which means at least three of them need to be protected:
- Kellyn Acosta
- Clint Irwin
- Niki Jackson
- Kei Kamara
- Nicolas Mezquida (International)
- Sam Nicholson
- Kofi Opare
- Jack Price (International)
- Keegan Rosenberry
- Diego Rubio
- Andre Shinyashiki (International)
- Tommy Smith (International)
Who’s left unprotected?
Mostly guys who didn’t see the pitch much in 2019 (or at all), or who I think the Rapids might be letting go anyway:
- Andre Rawls
- Abdul Rwatubyaye
- Axel Sjoberg
- Danny Wilson
- Deklan Wynne
- Johan Blomberg (technically he’s on loan - thanks for the reminder, Jason!)
Note: Since Columbus Crew still own Lalas Abubakar’s contract, they will need to protect/not protect him, which is why he isn’t on this list anywhere.
That being said, there are two players on the unprotected list that I’m iffy about: Abdul Rwatubyaye and Andre Rawls. Jackson has potential if the club is willing to develop him and give him playing time, but when it comes to the offense, I think that Shinyashiki and Rubio should be the priority as far as young players go. I initially chose Kofi Opare over Jackson to protect, but then when Lewis’ slot opened up, I added Jackson in.
I also chose Opare over Abdul Rwatubyaye because of Opare’s MLS experience, but given Rwatubyaye’s success with the Switchbacks, I don’t feel super strongly about it one way or the other and would be okay with either one. I like Rawls a lot and there’s obviously a need for another keeper with Tim Howard retiring, but the club could just as easily bring in another young back-up.
However, compared to the options that might be available with other clubs, I’m not sure there’s much of a risk to leave these seven players unprotected anyway.
I want to hear your opinion! Do you agree with my lists? What would you change?