Mike Fucito celebrates his brace on Comunicaciones.
Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle forced to leave several starters unprotected

When the Philadelphia Union nabbed Sébastien Le Toux in the 2009 Expansion Draft, there was much hand-wringing in the Pacific Northwest about the Frenchman’s departure. The next season, Seattle starters Nathan Sturgis and Sanna Nyassi were plucked from the roster by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Despite the turnover, general manager Adrian Hanauer’s squad was able to claim the second-best regular season record in MLS during 2011. And regardless of the likelihood of losing another player to MLS newcomers Montreal, Hanauer hopes to better the feat in 2012.

"Given the fact we've lost three players to expansion drafts the past two seasons, we are bracing ourselves for the possibility of losing someone," said Hanauer in a release from the club. "Despite those losses, we have developed a deep squad and grown stronger.

“We couldn't protect everyone, so some of those who contributed significantly to our success are bound to be exposed,” he added. “It will be interesting to see how Montreal approaches this."

The Expansion Draft always leads to some tough choices around the league, and Seattle’s list no different. Some regular starters found their names among the unprotected, including Mike Fucito, James Riley, Tyson Wahl and Leo González.

Fucito’s exclusion probably raised the most eyebrows among the Seattle faithful. While the 25-year-old’s two goals and two assists in league play are somewhat underwhelming, it’s worth noting that his team went 8-3-2 in his 13 starts. Fucito also started eight of Seattle’s final 11 MLS games of the season, including the second leg of the playoffs series against Real Salt Lake.

Riley was a fixture in the starting lineup, logging over 2,300 minutes and 27 league starts for the third consecutive year as Seattle’s first-choice right back.

On the other side of the field, Wahl and González split time as Seattle’s left back. Wahl earned 23 starts to González’s 12 and scored a stunning free kick goal against the New England Revolution.

O’Brian White, Nate Jaqua, and Servando Carrasco were also left unprotected.

Despite battling with injuries, both Brad Evans and Steve Zakuani find themselves protected, as do 2011 standouts Lamar Neagle and Erik Friberg. Generation Adidas member Michael Tetteh is exempt from the draft.

The Expansion Draft will take place on Wednesday and can be viewed on MLSsoccer.com.

Seattle’s Protected XI:

Goalkeepers: None
Defense: Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Michael Tetteh*
Midfield: Lamar Neagle, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Erik Friberg, Steve Zakuani, Álvaro Fernández 
Forwards: Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa

* Generation Adidas member Michael Tetteh is exempt from the draft.

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.