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Plenty of talent in expansion draft field

A handful of big names highlight the list of players left unprotected for Friday's MLS Expansion Draft, through which the two new MLS teams, Real Salt Lake and Club Deportivo Chivas USA, will stock a portion of their rosters.

The two expansion clubs will have several talented goalkeepers, all of whom have served as starters at some point this season, to choose from, including Kansas City Wizards 'keeper Tony Meola, MetroStars 'keeper Jonny Walker and Chicago Fire backstop Henry Ring. Meola is one of the most successful goalkeepers in MLS history and a former MVP, while Walker, with his experience playing for soccer clubs in Chile and his ability to speak Spanish, may appeal to CD Chivas USA. Ring stepped into the starter's role in Chicago this year, but it seems the Fire have ended their dilemma of having to choose between him or Zach Thornton by leaving the younger of the two exposed.

In Dallas, Scott Garlick was left open to selection after seeing his starting job taken away from him by Jeff Cassar, and the New England Revolution decided not to protect Adin Brown after the remarkable performances turned in by reserve 'keeper Matt Reis during Brown's extended recovery from a midseason concussion.

Some veteran field players were left unprotected by their teams, as well, including three team captains. Revs defender and captain Joey Franchino appears on New England's unprotected list and the MLS Cup champion D.C. United left their captain Ryan Nelsen unprotected, while San Jose Earthquakes skipper Jeff Agoos, who has won a record five MLS Cups, is also available for selection Friday. Joining Agoos on the Quakes' unprotected list is midfielder Ronnie Ekelund, a player who was an unsung hero in the Quakes' run to an MLS Cup title in 2003. Another big midfield name on the list of available players is Preki, the 41-year-old two-time MVP who missed nearly all of the 2004 season with a severe ankle injury.

Chicago Fire midfielder Andy Williams may continue his role as a journeyman if he is chosen at the end of the week, and midfielder Brian Maisonneuve, one of only three players to have been with only one team for each of MLS' nine seasons, could see his run with the Columbus Crew come to an end. Colorado Rapids' defender Antonio de la Torre is on his club's unprotected list, the Mexico native's stint with the Mile High club possibly coming to a close after just one season.

Elsewhere, two young and promising midfielders were left open to selection. The Los Angeles Galaxy's Marcelo Saragosa is unprotected after a strong season in which he asserted himself as a talented defensive midfielder, and the MetroStars' Pablo Brenes is also available. Brenes' brightest moments in 2004 came with the Costa Rican U-23 team at the Olympics in Athens.

D.C. United left unprotected a total of eight players who helped the team lift the cup this season. In addition to Nelsen, United's list includes midfielders Kevin Ara, Tim Lawson, Eliseo Quintanilla and Earnie Stewart (who has said he is returning to Holland this winter), defender Ezra Hendrickson, goalkeeper Troy Perkins and forward Thiago Martins.

The 2004 MLS Cup runners-up, the Kansas City Wizards, have made six players available for selection Friday. They are Meola, Preki, midfielders Francisco Gomez and Igor Simutenkov, forward Matt Taylor and defender Alex Zotinca.

Aside from Ring and Williams, the Chicago Fire left unprotected midfielders Alexandre Boucicaut and Scott Buete, defenders Evan Whitfield and Orlando Perez, forward Dipsy Selolwane and goalkeeper D.J. Countess. The Rapids elected not to protect midfielders Joey DiGiamarino and Darryl Powell, defenders de la Torre, Jeff Stewart and Seth Trembly and goalkeeper Scott Vallow, while the Crew did the same with Maisonneuve, defenders Nelson Akwari and Stephen Herdsman, midfielders Eric Denton and Manny Lagos, goalkeeper Matt Jordan and forwards Erick Scott, David Testo and Dante Washington.

FC Dallas' unprotected list includes Garlick, defenders Matt Behncke and Philip Salyer, midfielders Ty Maurin and Oscar Pareja and forward Toni Nhleko. The Galaxy did not protect Saragosa, defender Paul Broome, goalkeeper Dan Popik or midfielder Arturo Torres.

Forward Sergio Galvan Rey, midfielders Tim Regan and Joselito Vaca, defender Craig Ziadie and goalkeeper Zach Wells join Walker and Brenes on the MetroStars' unprotected list, while the New England Revolution's list consists of Brown, Franchino, defenders Steve Howey, Brian Kamler, Carlos Llamosa and Rusty Pierce and forward Joe-Max Moore.

Joining Agoos and Ekelund on the Earthquakes' list of unprotected players are forwards Chris Brown and Jamil Walker, goalkeeper Jon Conway and defenders Wes Hart and Chris Roner.

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.