As the noted poet/defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said, "There are known knowns ... and there are known unknowns."
We find ourselves in this exact position this morning as it pertains to the state of Sporting Kansas City's protection list. Each Major League Soccer team must provide its protection list this afternoon (they'll be made public approximately 4 p.m.) and the expansion draft with Portland and Vancouver is tomorrow. Each team can protect 11 players, with special exemptions (Generation adidas, home-grown players).
The knowns: The team doesn't have to protect Teal Bunbury (Generation adidas) or Jon Kempin (home-grown player); the team will have to protect Roger Espinoza and Chance Myers if they want to keep them (both graduated from Generation adidas this year and are no longer exempt); the team doesn't have to worry about Omar Bravo (he's apparently not considered for this list as I understand it); and the team would be dumb not to protect currently out-of-contract fullback Michael Harrington (it would be dumber to not re-sign Harrington).
The known unknowns: There are seven internationals on roster (Korede Aiyegbusi, Sunil Chhetri, Zoltan Hercegfalvi, Nikos Kounenakis, Ryan Smith, Craig Rocastle and Jimmy Nielsen) and four of them must be protected (NOTE: You have to protect three less than the number of internationals on your roster), who makes the list?; Are vets Jimmy Conrad (currently out-of-contract), Josh Wolff (high salary, lack of playing time) and Shavar Thomas (solid defender, not getting any younger) part of the team's future plans?; Matt Besler and Jack Jewsbury could literally go either way; and with the defense as bad as it was this year, are any back-line players safe at all?
The good news is that the unknown shall be known (in some way shape or form) later this afternoon.
So, my best guess at Kansas City's list right now:
Ryan Smith (I)
Craig Rocastle (I)
Jimmy Nielsen (I)
Sunil Chhetri (I)
Teal Bunbury (GA)
Jon Kempin (HG)My thought process:
Arnaud, Auvray, Espinoza, Harrington, Kamara, Smith and Rocastle are no-brainers. Besler and Zusi are young players with decent ceilings that would definitely be scooped up by the expansion teams. Chhetri is an international the team has invested a lot of time and money into, I can't see them exposing him at this stage. Nielsen is a player they could protect or expose, but I wouldn't risk losing him right now just to protect Jack Jewsbury or Jimmy Conrad (more on them in a second).
The following players would be exposed:
Korede AiyegbusiA few thoughts:
In an earlier list, I had Thomas protected. I've changed my mind. I think the team would go younger and risk losing him at this stage. Jewsbury and Conrad would be tough losses, but both are expendable at this point really. For Jewsbury, he's a great substitute for KC and would be a great addition to an expansion team. On Conrad, he's a professional who took losing the captaincy in stride, but isn't getting any younger. Zoltan makes too much money and The Greek is still very much unknown to the rest of the league (and the Sporting fans). I think it's safe to expose Myers, his injury history might scare off Portland and Vancouver.
What does everyone else think? Am I waaaaay off or close to what you're thinking?
(Also, if anyone is having problems with anything on the site today, please let me know in the comments or via email.)