The Colorado Rapids have released their list of protected and unprotected players for the 2022 MLS Expansion draft. Tomorrow, St. Louis City SC will select five players from 23 other MLS teams, including the Rapids.
Teams could protect up to 12 players. Homegrowns are automatically protected. There’s a bunch of other complicated rules about the draft. Click here to read them. Now let’s look at who’s protected and unprotected, and who the Rapids could lose.
Goalkeepers (1): William Yarbrough
Defenders (3): Lalas Abubakar, Keegan Rosenberry, Gustavo Vallecilla
Midfielders (4): Bryan Acosta, Max Alves, Jack Price, Braian Galván
Forwards (4): Michael Barrios, Jonathan Lewis, Sam Nicholson, Diego Rubio
Homegrown Players Automatically Protected:
Goalkeepers (1): Abraham Rodriguez
Defenders (4): Sebastian Anderson, Michael Edwards, Aboubacar Keita, Jackson Travis
Midfielders (3): Cole Bassett, Oliver Larraz, Ralph Priso
Forwards (2): Dantouma “Yaya” Touré, Darren Yapi
Players Available for Selection:
Goalkeepers (1): Clint Irwin
Defenders (5): Steven Beitashour, Lucas Esteves, Anthony Markanich, Drew Moor, Danny Wilson
Midfielders (3): Felipe Gutiérrez, Philip Mayaka, Collen Warner
Forwards (1): Gyasi Zardes
There aren’t too many surprises here. You can make an argument for not protecting Acosta due to his salary. St. Louis isn’t picking up a guy costing $707,000 a year for that output. Barrios is turning 32-years-old in April. Maybe they could have gotten away with leaving him unprotected because of his age. He did take a step back this year in terms of minutes and production. Sam Nicholson’s relatively under the radar in terms goals and assists as well.
In terms of unprotected players, the only possible surprises are Esteves and Wilson.
The club’s announced Irwin and Mayaka will not be returning. Moor has retired. St. Louis won’t consider Beitashour, Gutiérrez, or Warner because of their ages.
Markanich played in three MLS games this year. He was decent in one and poor in the other two. If City want a second round SuperDraft pick with one year of MLS experience, there’s better options elsewhere.
Zardes is eligible for free agency. Based on the expansion draft rules, the only advantage the expansion team has in selecting a free agent is the opportunity to offer slightly higher pay raises than other teams. Zardes made $1.4 million in 2022. I don’t see ANY team in MLS offering him that. St. Louis has said publicly they won’t be big spenders. If they want the ability to offer a future free agent more than any other team in the league, they’ll select players other than Zardes.
Wilson could be worth St. Louis taking a second look. He’ll be 31 next month. He’s got club options for 2024 and 2025. This year he had a guaranteed compensation of $355,000. You want a veteran center back who knows the league, is a leader, and a good passer? That’s Wilson. He is still an international player though.
The rules aren’t clear about whether St. Louis selecting Esteves means they automatically exercise the $1 million purchase option. As previously stated, I don’t think St. Louis is going to spend big. Either they take Esteves and in doing so agree to spend that money or simply get the negotiation rights. I think they’ll want all five players they select to be guaranteed under club control.
As I’ve written, tweeted, and podcasted, I think all of this is moot. My prediction is no Rapids player gets taken in the Expansion Draft tomorrow. If I had to pick a most likely to get taken, I’d lean Wilson.