Way Too Early Expansion Draft Analysis
|Today, Toronto FC is expected to name Mo Johnston as its first head coach. The merits of that decision can be debated, but one thing for certain is that Johnston will have the chance to pick up a couple of decent players in the expansion draft.|
I say "a couple of decent players" because that's all that can really be expected out of it, especially looking back at the 2004 edition. Only five players remain on with RSL (Andy Williams, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown) or Chivas USA (Orlando Perez, Matt Taylor), and only Williams has had any kind of real impact.
On the other hand, the 1997 edition saw the Chicago Fire get a few players that really helped them in their title run: Zach Thornton, Francis Okaroh, and Diego Gutierrez. They also traded their first two selections (Danny Pena and Kevin Hartman) back to the Los Angeles Galaxy for Chris Armas and Jorge Campos. Very smart.
This year's version will be different because only one team is joining the league. That means that Toronto should be better off than RSL/Chivas. Of course, we can't forget that Toronto's player rules will be different. Canadians will count as domestic players, and Americans as foreigners. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but here's what I previously read: In addition to the normal 4 SIs, Toronto will be allowed to have 3 more additional American senior roster players. They will also get 5 youth international spots (under 25). Every MLS team gets 3 normally, but the expansion teams get 5 for the first two years. So Toronto could have 12 non-Canadians on their 28 man roster.
But they won't be able to keep that many guys from the expansion draft, because they can only draft senior roster players. Here were the rules from the last time:
Existing MLS teams are allowed to protect 12 players on their senior roster, and players on the developmental roster are exempt from the draft. Teams are allowed to leave no more than one Senior International player unprotected. After each player is selected, his team is allowed to remove one exposed player from their list, and teams are not able to lose more than three players.
That's what I'll use to guess which players might be available this year. One key thing to remember is that while there are only 6 senior roster players available for selection from each team, the real number is less than that because teams will leave unsigned and old, expensive players unprotected (I don't include any such players below). I'm also unsure if any developmental players may "graduate" before the draft occurs. I think if they turned 25 before the draft, then they will. Any other circumstances, then I don't know.
Having said that, here's the best guys whom Toronto FC might be able to grab from each team:
CHV-Orlando Perez, Matt Taylor, Brent Whitfield
CHI-Floyd Franks, Ryan Johnson, Logan Pause
COL-Matt Crawford, Luchi Gonzalez, Chris Wingert
CLB-Ezra Hendrickson, Chris Leitch, Johnny Walker
DAL-Jeff Cassar, Clarence Goodson, David Wagenfuhr
DC-Bryan Namoff, Brandon Prideaux, Jamil Walker, Nick Rimando, John Wilson
HOU-Craig Waibel, Zach Wells
KC-Jack Jewsbury, Alex Zotinca
NE-Avery John, Marshall Leonard, Khano Smith
RSL-Chris Brown, Scott Garlick
As you can see, there isn't a lot here worth taking. Serioux or Jazic could be left unprotected, but I doubt they would let Toronto have them for free. One thing I want to note is that they may be able to take a few younger guys, then try to sign them to developmental deals.
At the very least Toronto should be able to get a good (backup?) goalkeeper, and a decent player from DC. Avery John is worth a look as well. They should be able to get another role player or two, maybe a couple younger unproven players that I didn't list and that's about it. With the roster restrictions, they may not even use all their picks.