The expansion draft protected list has to be turned in to the league today. Others have taken their stab at what that is or should be so I thought I would do the same. This list is not a prediction. It is what I would do.
First off, these players do not have to be protected and do not take up a protected slot.
Bunbury (Generation Adidas)
Kempin (Home Grown)
Bravo (not on roster yet)
Generation Adidas players that have not graduated do not need to be protected. Homegrown players do not need to be protected. Bravo does not have to be protected since he is not on the roster yet.
My first two players to protect. Outside backs turned into a strength last year. If Kansas City strengthens other positions they will have a little more freedom to create offensively as well.
Not only is he the Chipotle and Twitter King, he was also the team's Golden Boot winner. A constant fan favorite, Kei plays with passion and wants to score. ALL the time. He matured last year when he had to play on the outside instead of the middle and not only learned to deal with it, he made it work. He wants to be back in the middle and will compete hard against his friend and team mates to get there. Competition is good.
4. Smith (I)
5. Rocastle (I)
The first two of the three required internationals to protect. Smith has so much skill that he draws opposing defenses to him. His second year in the league should allow him to improve and produce even more. Rocastle is just the physical presence Sporting Kansas City needs to combat the more hacking teams.
A healthy Auvray interrupts the flow of the other team. Without him the Wizards did not play as well. With him on the field and healthy opposing teams could never take their time on the ball. Arnaud is more passion for the team. Described as the heart and soul of the team he never gives up.
Zusi has the skill and ability to turn into a star. Reserve league and senior team games will determine if he can live up to that potential. I think he will.
Honestly, I could stop here. I think the team would be okay with only protecting this many players. Any exposed players taken at this point would either not be in the plans or would be replaceable through draft or signings. But since MLS wants 11, I will complete the list.
Speed, good natured, great guy. Can play outside or in the middle in defense and can go forward a bit or play mid even. Good backup utility guy for several spots.
I would protect Matt. I think he got a bit of a undeserved bad reputation with the coaches last year after the Seattle game. I think Besler is a good defender who was misused on the outside his rookie year but he will do what you ask. He needs to work on outlet passes and willingness to get physical (maybe even a little nasty). Perhaps we should sign him up for some MMA classes? Hometown (not home grown) guy that is great for community. Being protected might give a boost of confidence.
11. Nielsen (I)
At least one more international has to be protected. I will not protect Aiyegbusi, Zoltan and Kounenakis (explanations below). That leaves Nielsen or Chhetri. Since I do not think another team will take either one this is more of a symbolic protection slot. We know Nielsen is a good goalie, we know he is a good team player. This would signify that we want him back.
Leaving these guys exposed
Aiyegbusi (I) - good player but experience and size may make him unattractive to other teams.
Beasley - gone already
Conrad - much loved but I doubt he will be back, would be expensive option for an expansion team to take
Chhetri (I) - talented but unproven striker at this level
Diop - always smiling but not at top of skills chart, still manages to score though
Hohlbein - competent defender
Jewsbury - fantastic utility player but expensive
Kounenakis (I) - nobody has seen him except in practice
Kronberg - good keeper but with Nielsen in front of him and Kempin rapidly improving he should not be protected
Myers - really skilled player but can't seem to stay healthy
Thomas - solid central defender but not speedy
Wolff - his age and salary will make him less of a target for expansion teams
Zoltan (I) - salary and injury would make him unattractive to other teams
If a player is taken, another player can be protected. For me that would be either Chhetri, Myers or Aiyegbusi. I am certain the team will sign at least one central defender soon so the only central defender that I protected is Besler. His career is ahead of him still and has the chance to develop.
It will be interesting to see what the actual list is.
What do you think? Who should they protect? Who should go even if they are not taken in the expansion draft?