CHICAGO - As mandated by Major League Soccer, the Chicago Fire has turned into the League office its rosters of protected and unprotected players in advance of the second MLS Expansion Draft, which will take place this Friday, Nov. 19 at 3:00 p.m. CT (live on ESPNews). Per League rules, each MLS club is allowed to protect 12 players from its senior roster, leaving the existing players exposed to being selected in Friday ' s special draft, which will be used to stock the League ' s 11th and 12th franchises - CD Chivas USA and ReAL Salt Lake - in preparation for their inaugural seasons in 2005.
The biggest names on Chicago ' s exposed list are goalkeeper Henry Ring, who garnered the 2004 Fire Honda MVP award, MLS veteran Andy Williams, who has led the club in assists in each of his two seasons with the Fire, and D/M Evan Whitfield, who has manned Chicago ' s right flank for over 100 games since the 2000 season. Also included on the unprotected list are veterans Orlando Perez, Dipsy Selolwane and D.J. Countess, along with rookies Scott Buete and Alex Boucicaut.
Among the players protected were all five remaining " Fire Originals " that suited up for Chicago during its inaugural season in 1998: midfielder and captain Chris Armas, goalkeeper Zach Thornton, defender C.J. Brown, midfielder Jesse Marsch and forward Ante Razov. The 2004 Fire/Budweiser Scoring Champion, forward Damani Ralph, and 2004 Fire Defender of the Year, Jim Curtin, were also shielded from selection, as were Costa Rican international Andy Herron, third-year veteran Kelly Gray and the talented young trio of Justin Mapp, Logan Pause and Nate Jaqua. Rounding out the Fire ' s protected roster are developmental players (automatically protected) Denny Clanton, Leonard Griffin and Matt Pickens and Nike Project-40 player Craig Capano.
Per 2005 MLS Expansion Draft rules, current teams can only lose a maximum of three players in the Draft. Once a player has been claimed from a current team ' s non-protected roster, that same team may move a player from its non-protected roster to its protected roster. The rights to unprotected players who are not selected by ReAL Salt Lake or CD Chivas USA in Draft will be retained by their original clubs. After winning a coin toss at MLS Cup 2004, CD Chivas USA has earned the first selection in each of the 10 rounds of the Expansion Draft.
This will mark the second Expansion Draft in League history, and the first since November 6, 1997, when Danny Peña and David Vaudreuil were selected first by the Fire and Miami Fusion respectively in what was then a 12-round draft. Chicago used key players from that Expansion Draft - such as Thornton, midfielder Diego Gutierrez and defender Francis Okaroh - to fuel its run towards a surprising Inaugural Season that saw the club capture a rare domestic " double " after claiming the MLS Cup ' 98 and 1998 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles.
Chicago Fire Unprotected Player Roster (by position):
Goalkeepers: DJ Countess, Henry Ring
Defenders: Orlando Perez, Evan Whitfield
Midfielders: Alex Boucicaut, Scott Buete, Andy Williams
Forwards: Dipsy Selolwane