>Tuesday Lunch Special: Mock MLS Expansion Draft

Posted: November 23, 2010 in mls
Tags: , , , ,


By Evan and Matt Ream











On Wednesday November 24th, 2010, the newly formed Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are going to partake in the MLS Expansion draft. The purpose of an expansion draft is to give expansion teams a pool of players to work from so they don’t have to sign all of their own as free agents, thus making the transitional period into the league much easier.

The Rules of the expansion draft are simple:

· Each team takes turns selecting players from the list of available (unprotected) players until they have selected ten or passed

· Each MLS team can protect 11 players

· Generation Adidas players are automatically protected and do not count towards the 11 that a team may protect

· Each team can lose a maximum of two players

· If a team losses a player, it has the right to protect and additional player for the rest of the draft.


These are just a summarized version of the rules. For the full version click here and if you wish to see the list of available players, click here.


For this mock draft, I took charge of the Timbers while Matt took the Whitecaps. Here are Matt’s thoughts before the draft:

[Matt’s] thinking before the mock draft was that a) Vancouver need a solid base to work with, because defense wins games, b) not many amazing attacking players would likely turn up and c) it helps to have a few years of MLS experience. Although Vancouver have a full squad of players in camp right now trying out for the team, many of them don’t have a whole lot of professional or MLS games under their respective belts, or if they do, the games were in lower division European or other foreign leagues. I used this knowledge to make some picks I thought would help Vancouver be successful (and not finish dead last as some expansion teams have done). 


Meanwhile here is what I was thinking:

Portland have already signed some interesting players from lower leagues in Steve Cronin, Eddie Johnson (not the one who plays for Fulham), Ryan Pore, and Bright Dike. Both Cronin and Pore have MLS experience, which should help them, although neither of them was particularly impressive in their first stint. Meanwhile they also traded for New York Red Bull’s castoff Jeremy Hall who has a ton of potential and should be an opening day starter. Out of these five players, Cronin is a starter for sure and I think they hope that two of the remaining four will become regular starters. I think Portland are looking for the best deals possible in this expansion draft, and looking to come away with some definite starters.


So without further waiting, here are our picks (note, Portland has the first pick):


1. Portland select midfielder Dax McCarty of FC Dallas, Dallas protects midfielder Eric Avila

Evan: I think this is the clear #1 pick. McCarty may not be the best player on the list (Jimmy Conrad is probably better), but he is the best combination of skill, age, salary (around $150,000) and potential out of everyone on this list. He is a proven starter at a position that is tough to find (central midfield) and a possible All-Star. McCarty is clearly the best deal on this list.

Matt: I agree, the Whitecaps would have loved to start their draft out with Dax McCarty.


2. Vancouver select defender Julian Baudet of Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle protects midfielder Nathan Sturgis

Matt: Colorado used this big, strong central defender as a late game sub in the playoffs, but I think he could easily start for an MLS team. This will help Vancouver build a strong spine to compete with.

Evan: I’m not so sure about this pick. I think if Vancouver wants a central defender to pair with Jay DeMerit they pick Jimmy Conrad, or if they want to go younger, Patrick Ianni, but you obviously rate Julian Baudet a lot higher than I do.


3. Portland select defender Jimmy Conrad of Sporting KC, KC protect forward Birahim Diop

Evan: As I said before, Conrad is probably the best player on this list and drafting him along with McCarty give Portland two definite starters and a very strong spine to start off with. Conrad is a great locker room player and a proven winner; he could be Portland’s inaugural captain.

Matt: I didn’t pick Conrad because I think he and DeMerit are too similar of players, but I definitely thought about it.


4. Vancouver select midfielder Ned Gravaboy of Real Salt Lake, RSL protects defender Robbie Russell

Matt: David Duchovny look-a-like and midfielder extraordinaire, Grabavoy is a two-way force in the center or outside of midfield. He was an integral part as a sub in the playoffs during his 2005 and 2009 MLS championships.

Evan: This is the definition of a safe pick. Gravaboy will never be a great player, but he will always be a good one and he is a valuable addition to any team.


5. Portland select defender Anthony Wallace of Colorado Rapids, Colorado protects midfielder Wells Thompson

Evan: This could be the steal of the draft. Wallace started at left back for the MLS Cup winning Rapids. Left back is often the hardest position to fill when building a team, so to get a player on the rise that is a solid starter is great.


6. Vancouver selects midfielder Dema Kovalenko of LA Galaxy, LA protects forward Mike Magee

Matt: Every team needs a hard-hitting workhorse and with LA’s Supporter’s Shield run of last year, I think Kovalenko still has a few years left in the tank. It killed me to pick him, (because I hate him), but I think he will help prevent Vancouver from being countered on with his tireless running and covering of teammates (as well as professional fouls every now and then).

Evan: Dema is certainly a useful player, but is he too old?


7. Portland select defender Kyle Davies of FC Dallas, Dallas is eliminated from the player pool

Evan: Kyle Davies was the U-20 captain at the last U-20 World Cup, and is apparently MLS ready right now. He didn’t find much playing time last year, playing behind George John and Ugo Ihemelu who are much more polished. Davies also struggled with injuries, but this looks like the perfect opportunity for him to develop.


8. Vancouver select defender Dasan Robinson of Chicago Fire, Chicago protects midfielder Peter Lowry

Matt: I like Robinson because he can play center back or outside back, is very athletic (think poor man’s Marvell Wynne), and has some experience.


9. Portland select midfielder Collen Warner of Real Salt Lake, RSL is eliminated from the player pool

Evan: This pick makes a ton of sense. Warner was stuck behind a stacked midfield in Utah, unable to get playing time. Warner played his college soccer at Portland and had a stint with the Timber’s U-23 team.


10. Vancouver selects midfielder Miguel Montano of Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle is eliminated from the player pool.

Matt: Although he did come off with a red card during his first MLS start, Montano does have a bright future. He possesses the skill, vision, and dynamic off the ball movement that few players in MLS can boast. I think he’d help Vancouver stay competitive as an expansion team.


11. Portland select forward Joseph Ngwenya of Houston Dynamo, Houston protects midfielder Corey Ashe

Evan: Ngwenya doesn’t have the best goal scoring record, but I think he is a player that a lot of teams are interested in. He still hasn’t had a breakout season yet, but he is better than most of the other attacking players in the expansion draft, and could be a starter for Portland.


12. Vancouver selects forward Ilija Stolica of New England Revolution, New England protects midfielder Pat Phelan.

Matt: The big forward helped make a difference in a New England side lacking offensive punch without Taylor Twellman. It’s always good for a team to have a target and Stolica will provide one for Vancouver.


13. Portland select forward Chad Barrett of Toronto FC, Toronto protect forward O’Brian White

Evan: Chad Barrett may get a lot of crap for his inability to finish, but he does average about a goal every four games in his career, which is better than most of the players on this list. Barrett is not the answer, but he is certainly a stopgap.


14. Vancouver select defender Tim Ward of San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose protects midfielder Brad Ring

Matt: Ward is a versatile, young, and an underrated passer. A large part of San Jose’s run to the Eastern Conference Final, he will help Vancouver on either side of the defense.


15. Portland select midfielder/forward Arturo Alvarez of San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose is eliminated from the player pool.

Evan: It is rare to find a player with this amount of flare and skill in the expansion draft. Alvarez is still relatively young and can be an impact player, it just remains to be seen if can be a more consistent threat.


16. Vancouver selects midfielder Shea Salinas of Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia protect midfielder Andrew Jacobson

Matt: Salinas is super-fast and can be used just about anywhere (played forward in college, midfield in San Jose, Peter Novak tried him at outside back in Philly).  He’ll help Vancouver stretch the field and maintain possession.


17. Portland select defender Devon McTavish of DC United, DC protect defender Jordan Graye.

Evan: McTavish, though not always a starter, is as versatile as they come. He is capable of playing any defensive position as well as outside midfield. He is by no means an amazing player, but every winning team needs a few “glue” guys like McTavish.


18. Vancouver selects midfielder Luke Sassano of New York Red Bulls, NY protect midfielder Austin da Luz

Matt: Sassano was getting some playing time at center midfield in New York until Tony Tchani was drafted and Rafael Marquez was signed. He has played outside back as well, although it was under the failed experiment that was Juan Carlos Osorio. I’d expect him to provide midfield and defensive depth for Vancouver, as well as help build for the future.


19. Portland select defender Cory Gibbs of New England Revolution, New England is eliminated from the player pool

Evan: Cory Gibbs is the perfect type of player to take a late round flier on. Though he is 30 years old, Gibbs provides invaluable experience from the national team as well as from Europe. Gibbs has been injury prone in MLS, but he can certainly start the first few games while Portland prepares Kyle Davies. Gibbs can also play left back if needed.


20. Vancouver selects midfielder Gerson Mayen of Chivas USA

Matt: Mayen is yet another midfielder who can play in the back. Good skill and passing ability, and can also attack well down the right flank.


There are definitely some quality players available, even ones that we didn’t pick, such as Sanna Nyassi, Patrick Ianni, Nathan Sturgis, and Pat Phelan. I think both teams hope they come up with four to five quality starters tomorrow, and if this mock draft is any indication, they definitely will. Join us tomorrow for our Expansion Draft Recap!


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