In a week, Sporting Kansas City and the other 17 Major League Soccer teams will reveal their protected lists for the 2011 Expansion Draft. Players who are not on his team's protected list are eligible to be drafted by the Montreal Impact during the 10-round draft on Nov. 23.
It's hard to even guess at what Montreal's strategy will be, but I know one thing: Sporting stands a good chance of losing a quality player -- they just doesn't have enough spots to protect everyone.
The only question in my mind is will they lose Michael Harrington, Seth Sinovic, Davy Arnaud, Kei Kamara or Soony Saad?
Any one of those five would fit just about any plan for an expansion team -- quality (Harrington), value (Sinovic), experience (Arnaud), instant offense (Kamara) or upside (Saad). If I were a betting man, though, I'd say Harrington is the obvious choice.
Without any insider knowledge (other than a good feel for how Sporting like to go about their business), here is my best guess at the 11 players KC will protect.
Worth noting: Kansas City doesn't have to use a protection spot for its two homegrown players Jon Kempin and Kevin Ellis.
These players are the spine of the team and the building blocks for the future. All of them will be 26 or under when the 2012 season starts. (Actually, six of them will be 25 or under.) All are starters. This part is easy.
1. Teal Bunbury*
2. Matt Besler
3. Aurelien Collin
4. Roger Espinoza
5. Chance Myers
6. C.J. Sapong
7. Graham Zusi*I'm assuming that Teal Bunbury will graduate from the Generation adidas program. He's logged enough minutes in two seasons to shed the protection it offers. If he stays a GA, then he is automatically protected and KC has another roster spot. But that's very unlikely. The Internationals
One of the major rules for this process is that a team can only make a certain number of international players available. The rule:
Clubs are restricted in the number of international player(s) that they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players minus three, provided that if a club has three or fewer international players it may make available not more than one.
So, no matter what, KC has to protect at least three internationals. I've already listed Collin. There have to be two more.
8. Jimmy Nielsen
I don't expect that Julio Cesar will be a popular pick -- he turns 33 this week and he's a tad expensive. Why not dangle him out there and protect someone else? Well, because I'm not sure who else to protect. Korede Aiyegbusi? Daneil Cyrus? Milos Stojcev? Peterson Joseph? Surely not. I don't think KC would be attached to any of them.
The only other international I'd entertain is Craig Rocastle really.The Last Two In
I think Peter Vermes and Robb Heineman can go just about any direction with these last two slots. I have Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud, Michael Harrington and Soony Saad in this group. Here are my two picks.
10. Kei Kamara
11. Seth Sinovic
In the end I weighed Kamara vs. Arnaud, and opted for Kamara because of age (27) and importance to the team (KC is severely lacking in players who can handle the right wing). Arnaud was supplanted by Zusi and Espinoza despite being the nominative team captain.
I went back and forth writing and deleting and writing and deleting Seth Sinovic and Soony Saad on the 11th spot. I wound up protecting Sinovic for the simple fact that he's a starter and is more important (and harder to replace in, say, the SuperDraft) than a 19-year-old striker the team lucked in to mid-season.The Unprotected
Korede Aiyegbusi (INT), Davy Arnaud, Daneil Cyrus (INT), Birahim Diop, Michael Harrington, Eric Kronberg, Peterson Joseph (INT), Lawrence Olum, Craig Rocastle (INT), Soony Saad, Milos Stojcev (INT), Shavar Thomas, Konrad Warzycha.
A moment of silence for Shavar. I can't fathom how he didn't make the protected list.
The expansion lists are due in on Monday, Nov. 21. The draft will be Wednesday Nov. 23.