Mock MLS Expansion Draft: How will Orlando City and New York City FC build their core?

Six years ago, the Seattle Sounders got their expansion draft just about right, picking up solid if unspectacular contributors at every level of the field. They made their way to the playoffs in 2009, their inaugural season, and haven't missed out since.

That's the bar that Orlando City SC and NYCFC have to hit on Wednesday afternoon. THIS list is full of contributors, proven MLS guys who know how to win in this league and are willing to play a complementary role in order to let the stars – and yeah, both teams already have stars – do their thing.

So this is our shot at playing GM and making sure the league's newest teams get out of the gate strong. Andrew selected the Orlando City picks, while Matt took NYCFC's selections (in the video above Andrew goes against Jason).

Also note, in line with Expansion Draft regulations, we pulled back a player from the non-expansion team's unprotected list when a player from that team was taken (noted in the NA section, for "Not Avaliable"). In addition, once two players are selected from a team, that team's players are off the board for the rest of the draft.

Let us know in the comments section below how you think we did...

MLSsoccer.com Mock Expansion Draft
Team Pick Analysis

M Ben Speas (CLB)
NA: Eric Gehrig

You might be surprised to see Speas get things started – what with some big names available and others who’d serve as potential trade bait – but the 23-year-old Crew product has serious talent. Affordable, versatile attacking ability that we’ve yet to see get a prolonged run. That’s a valuable commodity.


D A.J. Soares (NE)
NA: Patrick Mullins

If he doesn't go to Europe – and there are rumors that's where he's headed – I’m getting an in-his-prime central defender who just started in MLS Cup, who’s proven to be reliable and durable over his career and comes in at a cap number I can live with. He’s not Nesta, but I love the idea of pairing him with an experienced import to anchor the back line.

D Mark Bloom (TOR)
NA: Jackson

Orlando needs a right back, and Bloom (27) won’t break the bank after making 26 starts for Toronto FC in 2014. Plus, both Bloom and his wife hail from Georgia and had their first child this year, so a southern return makes sense personally. He’ll compete with youngsters Rafael Ramos and Tyler Turner.


M Ned Grabavoy (RSL)
NA: Carlos Salcedo

This midfield will possess the ball, and Grabavoy has quietly been one of the league’s best possession players for a decade and an absolute workhorse. I need as much “smart and reliable” as I can get – someone who’ll let Frank Lampard & David Villa be the game-breakers.

D Chris Wingert (RSL)
NA: RSL out

This is a no-brainer for Orlando after RSL chose to protect a valuable asset in Salcedo. Luke Boden is already signed at left back, but Wingert is a proven winner in MLS. Either way, he’s a valuable commodity in the trade market. Better believe Kreis will want the New Yorker with him at NYCFC.


D Corey Ashe (HOU)
NA: David Horst

We saw once again in MLS Cup how valuable smart, overlapping fullbacks are in this game. Ashe has been exactly that for a long time for some pretty damn good teams, is still just 28 and has a palatable cap number. He's a starter from Day 1.

M Davy Arnaud (DC)
NA: Kofi Opare

Despite Arnaud's cap hit, he's a shoo-in to get taken on Wednesday. The combination of expansion (Montreal) and rebuilding (D.C. United) experience will be invaluable for either Orlando or NYCFC. The former will be delighted to grab the 34-year-old and plug him in as one of two deep-lying midfielders.

F Charles Eloundou (COL)
NA: Grant van de Casteele

We've just found three starters, which means I can take a flier on youth and (electrifying) talent. Eloundou was misused or outright ignored in Colorado, but in the Bronx he’ll turn into NYCFC’s version of Joao Plata by 2016. This pick is all upside.

M Cordell Cato (SJ)
NA: Adam Jahn

Trinidadians unite. That would be Cato and Kevin Molino, who’ll make up a potent duo of Caribbean attackers in Orlando. He’s young (22), has MLS experience (55 GP, 4 G, 5 A) and will fit perfectly in Heath’s 4-2-3-1. A breakout year could be on the horizon.


M Danny Cruz (PHI)
NA: Pedro Ribeiro

There’s no real position for Cruz in the diamond, but if we go 4-2-3-1 or a flat 4-4-2 I’m very, very happy to have him as an option out wide. Never going to be a pretty player, but he’s 1000 percent committed and both smarter and more effective than most give him credit for.

D/M Jorge Villafana (POR)
NA: Jack Jewsbury

With Wingert possible trade bait, Villafaña could fill in at either left back or left midfield. At 25, Sueño already has eight MLS seasons under his belt and played in a 4-2-3-1 with Portland last season. He's a value pick (quality depth), but one that could change depending on what else Orlando do in the early rounds.

F Bright Dike (TOR)
NA: TOR out

Can he stay healthy? If the answer to that is “yes” then we’ve got an international caliber No. 9 who does all the Sabo-style dirty work in and around the 18, carving out space for Villa. His injury history makes it a risk, but one I can live with.

D Leo Gonzalez (SEA)
NA: Dylan Remick

"But Orlando doesn't need more left-back depth," you say. And you're right, but this is about accumulating assets, and Gonzalez has value. In this scenario, could the Lions flip both Wingert and the Costa Rican? Sure, and that might be the ideal scenario.

M Steve Neumann (NE)
NA: Revs out

Smart, good vision and committed on both sides of the ball. He’s like an elongated, younger version of Grabavoy – not a game-breaker, just a guy who knows how to ball on both sides of the field and makes everyone around him better with simple, efficient play.

F Conor Casey (PHI)
NA: PHI out

Yes, he's 33 years old and has been felled by injuries in the past year. But he still managed 18 goals over the past two season in 43 starts, and it's his hold-up and combination play that could really help Orlando. Think of the space Casey could open for Kaka...

M Benji Joya (CHI)
NA: Kyle Reynish

Something crushed Joya's confidence in Chicago after a pretty solid start there, but he’s young, skilled and cheap, which is what I’m looking for now. He needs to increase his range of passing, but he could eventually become a Marcelo Sarvas-esque worker bee.

M/F Soony Saad (SKC)
NA: Jorge Claros

See A.J. Soares. If Thailand doesn't work out – and it's worth remembering that SKC haven't officially announced a move – Saad could fit snugly in either outside attacking midfield spot. It's worth taking a flier on the Lebanese international in case things don't work out or the move falls through.

F Aaron Schoenfeld (CLB)
NA: Crew SC out

I love his movement off the ball, I love his better-than-you-think passing, and I love the fact that he’s a scrapper in the box. Can’t finish worth a damn, which I don't love, but neither could Chris Wondolowski at that age. At worst he’s a back-up for Dike, at best he wins the starting job and gives me 8-10 goals.

D Stephen Keel (DAL)
NA: Brian Span

If they keep Keel, he's a possible starter and at worst valuable depth. If Dallas wants him back, then maybe Orlando could get Brian Span and a bit more – think draft picks or allocation – in return. Span, I'll remind you, spent the 2014 season on loan at the USL PRO side.

D Dan Gargan (LA)
NA: End of Line

If I’m building a championship team, then I want champions. Gargan was huge for the Galaxy in 2014, is a fantastic locker room guy, and can give me valuable minutes as a back-up or fill-in starter. He’ll help shape the culture for this team – and be a bit of a secret weapon.
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