Expansion Draft

2022 MLS Expansion Draft: St. Louis CITY make 5 picks before inaugural season


St. Louis CITY SC further built their inaugural roster before their 2023 debut, selecting five players in the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft on Friday evening.

St. Louis made five selections from the list of eligible players revealed on Thursday. Per Expansion Draft rules, no MLS club could lose more than one player in the Draft.

Five teams were exempt from losing players after having players selected by Charlotte FC in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft: Austin FC, Atlanta United, D.C. United, LAFC and NYCFC.

Almost four months after Orlando City SC brought Gioacchini back stateside, the 21-year-old's on the move to MLS’s newest club.

The versatile US men’s national team pool forward logged just 134 minutes across six appearances with the Lions, never quite breaking into the rotation for head coach Oscar Pareja.

But there’s clear upside there, with Gioacchini previously featuring for SM Caen in Ligue 2 and on loan at French top-flight side Montpellier HSC. He’s got three goals in eight USMNT caps.

Vassilev is an interesting selection for St. Louis, as the 21-year-old winger is coming off his second season-long loan from Aston Villa to Inter Miami CF

The MLS newcomers would need to strike a deal with the English Premier League side to get Vassilev on the books for 2023. After he notched 5g/2a in 45 games (20 starts) for the Herons, there’ll be some urgency to accomplish exactly that.

Vassilev has played in six all-competition matches for Aston Villa and carries extensive US youth international experience.

Bell provided solid center-back depth for the New England Revolution the past two seasons, even contributing 2g/2a in his 27 appearances (19 starts). He was part of their record-setting Supporters’ Shield-winning team in 2021, deputizing Andrew Farrell or Henry Kessler when needed.

Now, the 25-year-old American is hoping a bigger role awaits as STL’s backline comes together. He’s certainly got the athleticism and profile to fit the New York Red Bulls-like playing style manager Bradley Carnell plans to instill.

The short version: When possible, it’s always wise to add budget-friendly domestic defenders who can contribute right away.

Nelson gives STL a second left back alongside twice-capped Bosnian international Selmir Pidro, who signed a long-term deal last February from FK Sarajevo.

The 24-year-old former US youth international could feasibly get the starter’s job, though. He’s coming off a 2022 MLS season with FC Cincinnati where he supplied two assists in 24 games (14 starts).

Previously, Nelson spent 2019-21 at FC Dallas. He underwent back surgery in September 2021, but has bounced back with conviction.


Expansion Draft choices don’t always stay with the selecting club; sometimes they get traded away for assets. That’s exactly what’s happened with LaCava.

LaCava was picked by St. Louis away from the New York Red Bulls and then flipped to Inter Miami CF. The newcomers will receive $150,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM) and up to $100,000 in GAM if certain performance-based metrics are met.

LaCava, 21, awaits his MLS debut, though impressed this past season while on loan from RBNY to USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies. The US youth international forward had 13g/6a in 39 matches – enticing Miami to make their move.