Two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts selected first overall in MLS Expansion Draft

Two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts is headed to his fourth MLS team in five seasons after he was taken first overall by Orlando City SC in the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Ricketts was arguably the biggest name selected in the draft between 2015 expansion franchises Orlando and New York City FC, and one of three players with an MLS Cup title to his credit snatched up by the newest clubs in the league.

Ricketts has spent the past two-and-a-half seasons with the Portland Timbers and won the Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2013, when he backstopped the team’s run to the best regular season record in the Western Conference. He also won the award in 2011, the same season he won the MLS Cup title with the LA Galaxy.

NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis opted to go with three bedrock players he knows well from his previous spell with Real Salt Lake, bookending his 10 picks with MLS Cup winners Ned Grabavoy and Chris Wingert to begin the building process in the Big Apple. Kreis also used the team’s sixth pick to grab Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, who played with Kreis at RSL in 2006-07.

Kreis coached both Grabavoy and Wingert during the best stretch of success for RSL between 2009-13, winning the MLS Cup title together in 2009 and reaching the league’s title game in 2013. Both players also featured prominently during the team’s run to the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final.

Outside of the veteran Ricketts, meanwhile, Orlando opted to use their picks on a slew of youngsters, including Houston midfielder Tony Cascio (24), Philadelphia midfielder Pedro Ribeiro (24) and Houston forward Mark Sherrod (24). They also pounced on two former top-10 draft picks in Seattle defender Jalil Anibaba (26) and former MLS SuperDraft first overall pick Danny Mwanga (23).

They also plucked two steady players from the Columbus Crew SC: Veteran Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta and defender Eric Gehrig.

The club also picked D.C. United veteran midfielder Lewis Neal and former US national team regular Heath Pearce, the 30-year-old defender now on his fifth club since joining MLS in 2009.

NYCFC mixed both youth and experience with their picks, offsetting the selections of veterans Grabavoy and Wingert with the selection of New England Revolution forward Patrick Mullins (22), D.C. United midfielder Thomas McNamara (23) and Toronto FC midfielder Daniel Lovitz (23), as well 25-year-old striker Tony Taylor, a former US youth international who played in Portugal before joining MLS earlier this year.

They also picked up a leading veteran defender in San Jose Earthquakes regular and New York City native Jason Hernandez, as well as FC Dallas defender George John and Kansas City midfielder  Sal Zizzo.

Per MLS rules, if the player selected by either team is already under contract - guaranteed or option was exercised - then the club assumes that player's contract for 2015. If the player is not under contract he has the right to negotiate, but if he is eligible for the Re-Entry Draft he will need to come to terms before Friday or he will need to opt out, otherwise he will go through the re-entry process.

ROUND ORLANDO CITY SC NEW YORK CITY FC
1 GK Donovan Ricketts (POR) MF Ned Grabavoy (RSL)
2 MF Tony Cascio (COL) FW Patrick Mullins (NE)
3 DF Jalil Anibaba (SEA) DF Jason Hernandez (SJ)
4 MF/FW Pedro Ribeiro (PHI) MF Daniel Lovitz (TOR)
5 MF Lewis Neal (DC) FW Tony Taylor (NE)
6 FW Jairo Arrieta (CLB) MF Mehdi Ballouchy (VAN)
7 DF Heath Pearce (MTL) DF George John (DAL)
8 FW Danny Mwanga (COL) MF Thomas McNamara (DC)
9 FW Mark Sherrod (HOU) MF Sal Zizzo (SKC)
10 DF Eric Gehrig (CLB) DF Chris Wingert (RSL)

 

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