Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 MLS Expansion Draft: One Player Each Team Will Definitely Lose

AP Photo/TOny Gutierrez

Now that the 2010 season is over, two new teams—the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps—have officially joined MLS. And they’ll get to build their teams through the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday.

The list of unprotected players has been released and there is a lot of talent on this list. Designated Players Juan Pablo Angel and Geovanni are on it, as is former MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Those players are making max money however, and expansion teams usually lean towards cheaper and much younger options.

With two teams picking players this year, some MLS clubs may lose two players. But here is a list of one player from each team most likely to get selected.

Chivas USA: Giancarlo Maldonado

The players left unprotected by Chivas are all a bit of a mystery. A lot of them just haven’t had much time in the league. But Maldonado is intriguing. He’s Venezuela’s all-time leading goal scorer (20 in 53 appearances). Sure it’s not the most prestigious country, but he’s also played for some good clubs teams and scored for them as well.

He started his career off at River Plate, and spent a lot of time with Atlante (Mexico) while also going on loan with Xerez in Spain. At Atlante he scored 32 goals in 77 league appearances.

He’s got a lot of soccer experience and is still only 28-years-old.

Chicago Fire: John Thorrington

Thorrington would be a good veteran presence, necessary for any team starting from scratch in order to build chemistry. He’d also be invaluable to help guide the younger players—which there probably will be many—on how to be a professional and to learn the ropes of MLS.

Thorrington is also a versatile player, able to slide into any position in the midfield.

Colorado Rapids: Wells Thompson

Thompson has been a solid contributor for some successful teams. As a rookie in 2007, he started and played every postseason game with the New England Revolution, a team that went to the MLS Cup. He also just recently won the MLS Cup with the Rapids.
He knows what it takes to win, and that is an invaluable intangible to bring to a team, especially a new one.

Columbus Crew: Eric Brunner

He’s a tall (6’4”), relatively young (24) center back with good promise in the league. In 2009 he started 23 games for the Columbus Crew, who were a strong defensive minded team. And against Colorado in the second-leg of the first round playoff matchup he played all 120 minutes of the game.

He also earned the league minimum $40,000 base salary, so he is a cheaper option.
Young players with lots of potential and small salaries are gold mines in the expansion draft.

FC Dallas: Dax McCarty

McCarty is a serious talent in the midfield.

In the league since 2006 and made 93 regular season appearances (71 starts). He also started all four playoff games this season.

He was a star at the youth international level, and is in the current Senior team player pool. And he’s still only 23-years-old.

He’s been in the dog-house with FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman, so a change of scenery will only help him and the further development of his game.

He has a reasonable price-tag and is a tremendous talent. If he does not get selected it would be a huge surprise and a big mistake.

D.C. United: Adam Cristman

Injury issues have clouded his productivity, but he can make contributions to his club. He scored twice in 17 games, including one game-winner, and had an assist. Both were good enough to be fifth on the team leader board. Makes you wonder what he could’ve produced if completely healthy.

His base salary is the league minimum, so he could be worth a flier.

Houston Dynamo: Pat Onstad

A Vancouver native, he talks fondly of his home and many believe that the Whitecaps will bring him on. And even at 42, the oldest active player in MLS, he can still play. He’s the league’s all-time leader in goals against average (1.05) and if he does indeed go to Vancouver, he would not only fill one of the mandatory Canadian-player slots, he would team up with already signed defender Jay DeMerit for a strong and experienced center of the defense.

Sporting Kansas City: Josh Wolff

Experienced and talented goal scorers are hard to come by, but Wolff has been a great player in MLS. He has scored 71 career league goals.

He was a member of the U.S. 2002 World Cup squad that had that magical run to the quarterfinals, and assisted on a goal.

He is a fantastic locker room guy as well, and his soccer resume may be too good to pass up.

LA Galaxy: Mike Magee

Magee is a nice piece for any team to add. He can play either forward or midfield and he’s scored some big goals for his teams, including the only Galaxy goal in the 2009 MLS Cup.

He has a good work ethic and he can be counted on to give a great effort, no matter the amount of playing time he’s receiving.

His base salary is less than six-figures and he’s only 26-years-old. He’s been a substitute, but can be a solid starter. He’s a hole-filler on the roster. Just a solid contributor.

New England Revolution: Cory Gibbs

It’s slim picking from the New England roster, but Gibbs could be a valuable asset to either team.

He started and played 25 games for the Revs this past season and has loads of soccer experience. He has spent some time with the U.S. National team and has experience not only in MLS, but Europe as well, most notably Feyenoord in the Netherlands.

It seems like he’s healthy and productive, so he’d be a nice piece on any backline.

New York Red Bulls: Conor Chinn

The rookie showed a lot of poise up front for the Red Bulls. In the preseason he was the second leading scorer, behind only regular season team leader Juan Pablo Angel. In four appearances in the U.S. Open Cup he scored three goals. He also scored in a mid-season friendly against Italian powerhouse Juventus.

It was a little bit surprising that Chinn didn’t get more opportunities with the first team, but he’s young and has had strong showings. He could develop into a very nice goal-scoring threat and is certainly a building block one of these new teams should include.

Philadelphia Union: Shea Salinas

Of the past three expansion drafts, Salinas has been selected twice (San Jose and Philadelphia). He’s only 24, can play either midfield or defense, and earns the league minimum salary.

His constant movement in the league isn’t because he’s invaluable. On the contrary, his age, versatility, talent, and contract situation all make him attractive to teams starting from scratch. With two teams selecting players, one team most likely will snag him.

Real Salt Lake: Collen Warner

He didn’t get much game-time for Real Salt Lake, but none of their young guys did. At 22-years-old he is a good prospect, believed to be a box-to-box midfielder.

He’s got a lot of talent, and could be especially appealing to the Timbers, as he played his college ball at the University of Portland.

San Jose Earthquakes: Arturo Alvarez

Playing in the MLS since 2003, Alvarez has tons of professional experience and is still only 25-years-old.

He can be a bit of a hot-head at times, but he’s still got a lot of talent. He’s able to play anywhere in the midfield as well as up-top. He is a good box-to-box midfielder and has yet to hit the prime of his career. He’s already a talented player, and is getting regular playing time with the El Salvador National Team, but he is also still progressing as a player.

He is certainly capable of leading a midfield.

Seattle Sounders FC: Sanna Nyassi

Nyassi is young (21-years-old) and extremely fast. He was a valuable super-sub for the Sounders, playing in 24 games, and his two goals in the U.S. Open Cup final won Seattle the trophy.

His speed can cause a lot of damage on the wing, and he’s still young and developing. Again, his 2010 base salary was the league minimum, so all things considered he will definitely be picked up by one of the two teams.

Toronto FC: Fuad Ibrahim

He’s only 19, but he’s been in the league for four years already. He hasn’t played in many games, but he’s acclimated into the league. At 16 he was the second-youngest player to ever be selected in the MLS Superdraft, going in the second round. He’s graduating from the Generation Adidas program, which may be why he was left unprotected, but he’s a promising striker.

Ibrahim is a member of this year’s U.S. U-20 World Cup team, adding to his resume. Last year Philadelphia put together a fairly young team to develop, and Ibrahim would fit that mold should either expansion club follow that model.

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