Brian Ching - November 3, 2011
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Dynamo leave Ching, Cruz exposed for Expansion Draft

HOUSTON – Just a day after the Houston Dynamo finished their MLS season, attention has already turned to 2012. Namely, which players might not be around next year because of the Expansion Draft.

Houston left nine players exposed for Wednesday’s draft that will stock the Montreal Impact’s initial roster in 2012.

The list included captain and club scoring leader Brian Ching, defender Hunter Freeman, midfielder Danny Cruz, Honduran international Carlo Costly, defender and original Dynamo Eddie Robinson, rookie goalkeeper Evan Newton, Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson, and injured forwards Jason Garey and Cam Weaver.

For Houston, the strategy was to take “calculated gambles”.

“They’re all tough decisions, and if you look at everyone’s list, they’re trying to take some calculated gambles,” Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti told Monday. “You try to look at the overall scenario with age, salary cap and sometimes injuries. Sometimes you venture to guess a player won’t get selected because one of those factors.”

The biggest name – and biggest gamble – on the list is Ching, who is the face of the franchise and has been since its inception in 2006. The 33-year-old forward captained the Dynamo in 2011, but injuries and a high salary cap number meant that Houston were willing to toss the dice and leave him on the unprotected list.

Other notable players that were exposed are starting right midfielder Cruz – who graduated Generation adidas – and Costly, who told Sunday night that he is returning to Mexican club Atlas.

“None of the teams want to lose players in the Expansion Draft, and none of us like to expose players – whether we discovered them or sign or drafted them,” Canetti said. “[We] try and figure out how to put ourselves at the least possible risk [of] losing players we really covet to have on the squad.”

While Houston are exposing nine players, they benefited from being able to protect six players thanks to Generation adidas or Home Grown designations. Players that fall under those categories are protected automatically.

In Houston’s case, the rule spared Will Bruin, Kofi Sarkodie, Alex Dixon, Josue Soto, Francisco Navas-Cobo and Tyler Deric, six players who are seen as key to the team’s future.

“Any time you get a chance to save a player from exposure, it’s good,” Canetti said. “I think it’s challenging when you can only protect 11 guys, it’s difficult. You want to hold onto more guys than that, so when you can save a slot on a GA or Home Grown, it’s a bonus.”

Houston’s Protected XI:

Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defense: Corey Ashe, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor
Midfield: Luiz Camargo, Colin Clark, Brad Davis, Adam Moffat
Forward: Calen Carr

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for