PORTLAND, Ore. – Gavin Wilkinson’s office is wallpapered with lists.
The Timbers’ general manager and technical director has researched the rosters of every Major League Soccer team and watched countless games – constructing plans and contingencies for the rapidly approaching MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 24.
That’s when Portland’s debut MLS team will truly begin to take form with the addition of 10 players selected off the unprotected lists of the league’s current teams.
“It’s exciting,” Wilkinson told MLSsoccer.com. “I wouldn’t say we’re nervous about it. We’ve done a lot of homework. We’re as prepared as we can be without knowing what’s going to happen.”
Portland have the first pick and will alternate selections with the Vancouver Whitecaps for 10 rounds.
Current teams are allowed to protect 11 players, with the remaining unprotected players are eligible to be taken by the two new franchises. A team may lose up to two players during the expansion draft, but no more. Active Generation adidas players are automatically protected and will not be included in each team’s list of 11 players available for selection.
MLS expects to release the list of unprotected names at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 22. The draft follows on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
“We’ve gone through every squad and identified players we like,” Wilkinson said. “There are many different scenarios.”
Historically, the expansion drafts have enabled first-year teams to claim key players.
Last year, the Philadelphia Union selected Jordan Harvey with the first pick. Harvey, a defender, led the team in minutes played in 2010. The Union also used their fourth selection on former Sounders midfielder Sebastien Le Toux, who enjoyed a career year in Philadelphia this season and was named to his first career MLS Best XI.
Wilkinson said he expects the Timbers to land “four or five” starting players from the draft, adding to the four the Timbers already have on the roster.
“For the very first pick, we’ll take the very best player, regardless of position,” he added.
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