Who will find the way to San Jose?
November 15, 2007
MLS Cup is just around the corner, but with Metro obviously not involved, let's look at an important event next week: the MLS Expansion Draft. With San Jose re-joining the league for 2007, they will have to pick at most one player from 11 of the league's 13 teams. Last year, Toronto was in a similar position, yet no player selected remained with the team for long (for example, Metro lost Danny O'Rourke, who was immediately traded to Columbus). So, who would we expect on the protected list that will appear Tuesday?
Metro will be forced to protect 11 players, leaving at most one senior international exposed. Generation Adidas players do not need to be protected, but with Jozy Altidore most likely graduating to a senior slot, that does not affect Metro. What is not known is whether Designated Players need to be protected, but we will deal with both scenarios in this case.
What also needs to be remembered is the man in charge of Metro's list, Jeff Agoos, is a lame duck, with his position being eliminated.
So who will be on the Metro list? The obvious protections are Juan Pablo Angel, Jozy Altidore, Hunter Freeman, Dema Kovalenko, Jeff Parke, Dane Richards, and Seth Stammler. That's eight. If Claudio Reyna has to be protected because of his DP status, that's nine. So we're left with two or three players needing to be protected from the following list: Jon Conway, Francis Doe, Kevin Goldthwaite, Chris Leitch, Mike Magee, Clint Mathis, Carlos Mendes, Dave van den Bergh, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Joe Vide, and John Wolyniec. Everyone else on the roster seems marginal at best.
Conway seems like a top protection candidate from that list. He started his MLS career in San Jose, Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop knows him, and he is a solid backup, if not starter. More importantly, Metro has no MLS goalkeeping experience beyond Conway.
Vide seemed to have earned his spot for next year. He would likely move up from his developmental slot and $12,900 salary, but even in that case, he would be a bargain.
Mendes would be next on the list. He got into Bruce Arena's doghouse late in the season, but with Arena gone, we have a solid MLS defender with a low salary cap number.
So this gives us ten, with Reyna a floater. If Metro is forced to protect him, we have our 11. If not, then you obviously expose Reyna, for San Jose will not waste a DP slot on him (only Metro was dumb enough to do that). So who would be that last player protected?
Let's leave Leitch, Magee, and Wolyniec exposed. All three are long-time Metro contributors, but none is a starter. Magee has the most potential, but he seems headed for premature retirement. Which leaves us with Doe, Goldthwaite, Mathis, van den Bergh, and Ubiparipovic for the final slot.
And then it's anyone's guess. Mathis and van den Bergh are the most useful, but have high salary cap numbers (of course, those can be renegotiated) and are unlikely to be taken. Goldthwaite seems like a perfect expansion draft candidate (cheap and young, if not good). Doe and Ubiparipovic are both young, with potential. However, with Altidore possibly leaving for Europe next year, Metro might want to have that extra striker on the roster.
So, our final protected list: Angel, Altidore, Freeman, Kovalenko, Parke, Richards, Stammler, Conway, Vide, Mendes, and Doe.