Lee Nguyen - LAFC - Close up
USA Today Sports Images

Predicting who will be available in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft | Ben Baer

The 2019 Expansion Draft is less than a week away, with Inter Miami and Nashville SC set to select five players each on Tuesday (5:30 pm ET; live on MLSsoccer.com). The pool of players they will be selecting from is set to be announced on Saturday, but we don't have to wait that long to predict who those players are likely to be.

There are a lot of rules to the process of protecting players, which you can read about here, but basically teams can protect up to 12 players from possible selection and Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the season and Homegrown Players (ages 25 and under – born in or after 1994) on a club’s roster at the end of the season are automatically protected. Checking out the roster pages of every club from the end of the season could also offer some hints on why some players are automatically protected or not.

What makes this exercise even more difficult than usual is that the vast majority of clubs have not yet announced their decisions on which players' 2020 options they will be exercising or declining. That information would go a long way towards knowing which players clubs value.

On-field play, while obviously important, is not the only reason to protect or not protect a player. Age, contract length and salary are all factors that will likely play into these decisions. Remember that Miami and Nashville will also not just be picking for themselves, but other teams across the league could also ask the two teams to make picks for them and execute a trade.

You will notice that there are five teams who are not listed below: D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are exempt from this draft after having players selected in last year's Expansion Draft.

Atlanta United

It was a tough call, but Hector Villalba and Eric Remedi seem to be on the outs and Dion Pereira is a younger, cheaper option for the Five Stripes. Brandon Vazquez is another intriguing option.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Ezequiel Barco Mo Adams Mikey Ambrose
Franco Escobar George Bello Jon Gallagher
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez George Campbell Alec Kann
Julian Gressel Andrew Carleton Kevin Kratz
Brad Guzan Chris Goslin Brandon Moore
Emerson Hyndman Lagos Kunga Luiz Nascimento
Jeff Larentowicz Miles Robinson Eric Remedi
Pity Martinez   Brek Shea
Josef Martinez   Brandon Vazquez
Justin Meram   Hector Villalba
Dion Pereira    
Florentin Pogba    

Chicago Fire

Despite trading $400,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for him last year, it wouldn't be surprising if the Fire left Raheem Edwards unprotected. With Chicago making trades with both Expansion teams, I would expect no Fire player to be selected.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Micheal Azira Jeremiah Gutjahr Elliot Collier
Jonathan Bornstein Djordje Mihailovic Raheem Edwards
Brandt Bronico Andre Reynolds Marcelo
Francisco Calvo Gabriel Slonina Cristian Martinez
Diego Campos   Amando Moreno
Stefan Cleveland   David Ousted
Przyemyslaw Frankowski   Richard Sanchez
Nicolas Gaitan    
Fabian Herbers    
Johan Kappelhof    
Aleksandar Katai    
CJ Sapong    

FC Cincinnati

Gerard Nijkamp would love if someone took Fanendo Adi.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Leonardo Bertone Frankie Amaya Fanendo Adi
Allan Cruz Andrew Gutman Fatai Alashe
Mathieu Deplagne   Nazmi Albadawi
Greg Garza   Logan Gdula
Joseph-Claude Gyau   Jimmy Hague
Nick Hagglund   Justin Hoyte
Emmanuel Ledesma   Roland Lamah
Tommy McCabe   Forrest Lasso
Spencer Richey   Ben Lundt
Przemyslaw Tyton   Kekuta Manneh
Maikel van der Werff   Darren Mattocks
Kendall Waston   Jimmy McLaughlin
    Hassan Ndam
    Alvas Powell
    Caleb Stanko

Colorado Rapids

Not many tough decisions for the Rapids.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Kellyn Acosta Sebastian Anderson Johan Blomberg
Clint Irwin Cole Bassett Kofi Opare
Niki Jackson Kortne Ford Andre Rawls
Kei Kamara Matt Hundley Abdul Rwatubyaye
Nicolas Mezquida Jonathan Lewis Axel Sjoberg
Sam Nicholson Dillon Serna Deklan Wynne
Jack Price Sam Vines  
Keegan Rosenberry    
Diego Rubio    
Andre Shinyashiki    
Tommy Smith    
Danny Wilson    

Columbus Crew SC

The Crew have some tough decisions to make as players like Waylon Francis, Hector Jimenez and Josh Williams could all be valuable to other teams.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Lalas Abubakar Alex Crognale Luis Argudo
Harrison Afful Aboubacar Keita Ricardo Clark
Artur Edward Opoku Waylon Francis
Luis Diaz JJ Williams David Guzman
Jonathan Mensah   Jordan Hamilton
Youness Mokhtar   Federico Higuain
Darlington Nagbe   Hector Jimenez
Eloy Room   Jon Kempin
Pedro Santos   Ben Lundgaard
Wil Trapp   Connor Maloney
Milton Valenzuela   Eduardo Sosa
Gyasi Zardes   Josh Williams
    Romario Williams


Two starters (plus Lee Nguyen!) from the best regular-season team in MLS history could be available.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Eduard Atuesta   Lamar Batista
Tristan Blackmon   Steven Beitashour
Latif Blessing   Mohamed El-Munir
Adama Diomande   Phillip Ejimadu
Mark-Anthony Kaye   Alejandro Guido
Tyler Miller   Jordan Harvey
Diego Palacios   Dejan Jakovic
Brian Rodriguez   Lee Nguyen
Diego Rossi   Adrien Perez
Eddie Segura   Javi Perez
Carlos Vela   Josh Perez
Walker Zimmerman   Danilo Silva
    Pablo Sisniega
    Peter-Lee Vassell
    Rodolfo Zelaya

LA Galaxy

Some interesting depth central-midfield pieces here, and Julian Araujo could take over the starting right back role if Rolf Feltscher is picked.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Romain Alessandrini Efrain Alvarez Favio Alvarez
Uriel Antuna Hugo Arellano Servando Carrasco
Julian Araujo Bradford Jamieson IV Emil Cuello
David Bingham Diedie Traore Rolf Feltscher
Joe Corona Ethan Zubak Tomas Hilliard-Arce
Jonathan dos Santos   Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Giancarlo Gonzalez   Juninho
Sebastian Lletget   Perry Kitchen
Cristian Pavon   Matt Lampson
Diego Polenta   Joao Pedro
Daniel Steres   Jorgen Skjelvik
Diedie Traore   Justin Vom Steeg

Minnesota United FC

Kevin Molino or Angelo Rodriguez is the tough pick here.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Osvaldo Alonso Abu Danladi Miguel Ibarra
Michael Boxall Collin Martin Romario Ibarra
Thomas Chacon Dayne St. Clair Brent Kallman
Hassani Dotson Mason Toye Carter Manley
Ethan Finlay   Wilfried Moimbe-Tahrat
Chase Gasper   Kevin Molino
Jan Gregus   Ally Ng'Anzi
Robin Lod   Lawrence Olum
Vito Mannone   Wyatt Omsberg
Romain Metanire   Rasmus Schuller
Ike Opara   Bobby Shuttleworth
Angelo Rodriguez    

Montreal Impact

It's anyone's guess who Olivier Renard and Thierry Henry value at this point.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Zachary Brault-Guillard Clement Bayiha Victor Cabrera
Evan Bush Jason Beaulieu Rudy Camacho
Bojan Krkic Mathieu Choiniere Jorge Corrales
Lassi Lappalainen Daniel Kinumbe Clement Diop
Daniel Lovitz Thomas Meilleur-Giguere Rod Fanni
Orji Okwonkwo James Pantemis Anthony Jackson-Hamel
Ignacio Piatti Shamit Shome Ken Krolicki
Samuel Piette Karifa Yao Amar Sejdic
Jukka Raitala   Ballou Tabla
Bacary Sagna    
Saphir Taider    
Maxi Urruti    

New England Revolution

Scott Caldwell and Jalil Anibaba could be good pieces for any team, while the salaries of Michael Mancienne and Wilfried Zahibo are probably prohibitive for any team thinking about selecting them.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Juan Agudelo Isaac Angking Juan Fernando Caicedo
Jalil Anibaba Tajon Buchanan Scott Caldwell
Gustavo Bou Diego Fagundez Edgar Castillo
Teal Bunbury Nicolas Firmino Cody Cropper
Brandon Bye Zachary Herivaux Brad Knighton
Luis Caicedo Justin Rennicks Michael Mancienne
Antonio Delamea   Brian Wright
Andrew Farrell   Wilfried Zahibo
Carles Gil    
DeJuan Jones    
Cristian Penilla    
Matt Turner    

New York City FC

Ben Sweat should be the No. 1 pick if he's left unprotected, given his versatility, quality and salary.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Alexander Callens Justin Haak Luis Barraza
Valentin Castellanos James Sands Daniel Bedoya
Maxime Chanot Joe Scally Jeff Caldwell
Heber   Sebastien Ibeagha
Sean Johnson   Gary Mackay-Steven
Ronald Matarrita   Jesus Medina
Alexandru Mitrita   Eric Miller
Maxi Moralez   Abdi Mohamed
Keaton Parks   Ebenezer Ofori
Alexander Ring   Tony Rocha
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi   Brad Stuver
Anton Tinnerholm   Ben Sweat
    Juan Pablo Torres

Orlando City SC

Orlando are working on finding the core, but for now, there's only a few players that must be protected.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Tesho Akindele Cam Lindley Josue Colman
Carlos Ascues Benji Michel Alex De John
Dom Dwyer Joao Moutinho Adam Grinwis
Cristian Higuita Mason Stajduhar Will Johnson
Robin Jansson   Sacha Kljestan
Sebastian Mendez   Shane O'Neill
Kamal Miller   Santiago Patiño
Chris Mueller   Dillon Powers
Nani   Greg Ranjitsingh
Mauricio Pereyra   Robinho
Ruan   Oriol Rosell
Lamine Sane   Brian Rowe
    Kyle Smith

Philadelphia Union

Raymon Gaddis or Olivier Mbaizo (who is young and cheap) is the tough call here.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Alejandro Bedoya Brenden Aaronson RJ Allen
Andre Blake Jack de Vries Joe Bendik
Jack Elliott Anthony Fontana Cory Burke
Ilsinho Matt Freese Aurelien Collin
Olivier Mbaizo Mark McKenzie Warren Creavalle
Haris Medunjanin Matthew Real Marco Fabian
Jamiro Monteiro Auston Trusty Fabinho
Fafa Picault Cole Turner Raymon Gaddis
Kacper Przybylko   Michee Ngalina
Sergio Santos    
Kai Wagner    
Andrew Wooten    

Portland Timbers

There's some intriguing options here, with Jeff Attinella being a potential starting goalkeeper, Andy Polo being a Peruvian international and the two starting-caliber fullbacks.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Sebastian Blanco Marco Farfan Dairon Asprilla
Julio Cascante Foster Langsdorf Jeff Attinella
Diego Chara Eryk Williamson Claude Dielna
Steve Clark   Andres Flores
Tomas Conechny   Aljaz Ivacic
Jeremy Ebobisse   Modou Jadama
Brian Fernandez   Marvin Loria
Larrys Mabiala   Kendall McIntosh
Jorge Moreira   Andy Polo
Cristhian Paredes   Zarek Valentin
Bill Tuiloma   Jorge Villafaña
Diego Valeri   Renzo Zambrano

Real Salt Lake

Joao Plata has been in and out of favor in recent years. He's probably the toughest call on the board for RSL, even if it's unlikely he gets selected.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Kyle Beckerman Danilo Acosta Alex Horwarth
Nick Besler Luis Arriaga Luke Mulholland
Sam Johnson Corey Baird Justin Portillo
Damir Kreilach Justen Glad Andrew Putna
Everton Luiz Aaron Herrera Kelyn Rowe
Douglas Martinez Erik Holt Pablo Ruiz
Nedum Onuoha Brooks Lennon  
Joao Plata David Ochoa  
Albert Rusnak Sebastian Saucedo  
Jefferson Savarino Tate Schmitt  
Marcelo Silva Julian Vazquez  
Donny Toia    

San Jose Earthquakes

The Quakes have some tough decisions to make. Carlos Fierro's salary could be a reason to leave him unprotected.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Eric Calvillo Jacob Akanyirige Francois Affolter
Harold Cummings Gilbert Fuentes Matt Bersano
Magnus Eriksson Siad Haji Luis Felipe
Cristian Espinoza Nick Lima Carlos Fierro
Marcos Lopez JT Marcinkowski Danny Hoesen
Judson Emmanuel Ochoa Paul Marie
Florian Jungwirth Tommy Thompson Jimmy Ockford
Guram Kashia Casey Walls Kevin Partida
Andres Rios Jackson Yueill Shea Salinas
Vako   Andrew Tarbell
Daniel Vega    
Chris Wondolowski    

Seattle Sounders

The Nouhou show could be heading to a new city.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Xavier Arreaga Handwalla Bwana Saad Abdul-Salaam
Emmanuel Cecchini Danny Leyva Will Bruin
Stefan Frei Jordan Morris Jonathan Campbell
Joevin Jones Trey Muse Jordy Delem
Kim Kee-hee Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez Justin Dhillon
Kelvin Leerdam   Bryan Meredith
Nicolas Lodeiro   Alex Roldan
Victor Rodriguez   Harry Shipp
Cristian Roldan   Luis Silva
Raul Ruidiaz   Nouhou Tolo
Brad Smith   Roman Torres
Gustav Svensson    

Sporting Kansas City

There's a number of high-priced veterans that could be left unprotected among this group.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Botond Barath Gianluca Busio Eric Dick
Matt Besler Cam Duke Benny Feilhaber
Roger Espinoza Tyler Freeman Andreu Fontas
Gerso Fernandes Felipe Hernandez Nicolas Hasler
Felipe Gutierrez Wan Kuzain Erik Hurtado
Luis Martins Jaylin Lindsey Jimmy Medranda
Tim Melia Daniel Salloi Seth Sinovic
Krisztian Nemeth   Gedion Zelalem
Johnny Russell   Adrian Zendejas
Ilie Sanchez    
Graham Smith    
Graham Zusi    

Toronto FC

Ali Curtis has a few decisions to make among his wing options.

Protected (predicted) Automatically
Unprotected (predicted)
Jozy Altidore Ayo Akinola Jon Bakero
Auro Aidan Daniels Nicolas Benezet
Michael Bradley Marky Delgado Alex Bono
Nick DeLeon Griffin Dorsey Laurent Ciman
Erickson Gallardo Julian Dunn Tsubasa Endoh
Omar Gonzalez Liam Fraser Drew Moor
Richie Laryea Noble Okello Ashtone Morgan
Chris Mavinga Jacob Shaffelburg Patrick Mullins
Justin Morrow   Caleb Patterson-Sewell
Jonathan Osorio   Ryan Telfer
Alejandro Pozuelo   Eriq Zavaleta
Quentin Westberg    

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. In-person early voting has started in 44 states. Make a plan to vote.