Rob and I started this series back in September, going team by team and looking at who they might protect in the upcoming Expansion Draft and who might be a consideration for Atlanta United. Before we get into a Big Board of the top potential prospects in the Expansion Draft, I wanted to put together an update of where each team stands today in terms of their roster.
Keep in mind that under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams must notify players no later than Nov. 30 of their contract status for next season. Some teams have already done this, some have not announced it yet. Little is known from the teams still in the playoffs.
Here’s a reminder of the timeline that also has to be considered for Atlanta United in building their roster:
December 10: MLS Cup at 8:00 p.m
December 11: Trade window open from 9:00 a.m. through 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. No trades will be permitted between 12:00 p.m. and the conclusion of the Expansion Draft.
December 12: Expansion Draft protected player lists and eligible Free Agents released.
December 13: Expansion Draft starts at 2:00 p.m. MLS Free Agency begins at 5:00 p.m.
December 14: Wavier Draft eligible players list released.
December 15: Waiver Draft starts at 2:00 p.m. Clubs can no longer sign their own Re-Entry Draft eligible players after 5:00 p.m. List of players eligible for Stage 1 of Re-Entry Draft will be released.
December 16: Re-Entry Draft Stage 1 starts at 3:00 p.m.
December 21: Clubs can no longer sign their own Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 eligible players after 11:00 a.m. List of players eligible for Stage 2 of Re-Entry Draft will be released.
December 22: Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 starts at 3:00 p.m.
Some regulations on each of the drafts below:
MLS Free Agency: Players 28-years-old and older with eight years of MLS service who are out of contract, or have not had their option exercised, are eligible for Free Agency in 2016, allowing them the freedom to negotiate a new contract with any MLS club, including their previous club, subject to certain restrictions. A player has fulfilled a year of service if he was on a club’s roster prior to August 15 or played in at least one regular season or postseason game in the relevant year.
Waiver Draft: It will consist of players who have been waived by their clubs and are not eligible for Re-Entry or Free Agency. Under contract players who are selected in the Waiver Draft will be automatically added to the drafting club’s roster. Clubs that claim Out-of-Contract players in the Waiver Draft must issue a genuine offer to the selected player. Atlanta United will pick 21st in the Waiver Draft.
Re-Entry Draft: Players who are available in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft are at least 23-years-old and have a minimum of three MLS service years whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2017), players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four MLS service years who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2016 salary), and eligible MLS Free Agents that choose to participate.
In Stage One, clubs may select Option Declined Players at their option price and Out of Contract players at their Bona Fide Offer price. In Stage Two, clubs may select players that were unselected in Stage One and who may be under contract or not under contract at that time. If a player is not under contract and the club selects such player, the club will be required to make a genuine offer to the player within seven (7) days (subject to League Office approval). If a player is not selected in either Stage One or Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process, such player will be available on a first come first serve basis to all clubs.
Atlanta United will pick 21st in each stage of the Re-Entry Draft.
Chicago Fire: Hot Time in Old Town looked at the Fire’s potential list back in September. In more recent news, rumors have Chicago chasing Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger. FOX Sports is discussing a three year, $16.5 million deal reportedly on the table.
We’ll see if the Schweinsteiger chase will affect their Expansion Draft protected list. The club recently announced their club options for 2017 and there are a few talking points. The Fire picked up the option on both Matt Lampson and Sean Johnson. We expected the club would leave one of the goalkeepers off of their protected list. They also picked up the option on Arturo Alvarez, which was not a given when we originally covered the Fire back in early September. Luis Solignac, Michael Stephens, and Khaly Thiam did not see their options picked up.
Colorado Rapids: Burgundy Wave did a story on their potential protected players in September. The biggest difference between our list is that they feel certain that Caleb Calvert will be protected by the Rapids due to his youth and potential.
Marlon Hairston has graduated from Generation adidas and will need to be protected by the Rapids, and it would be a surprise if he was left unprotected.
Columbus Crew: The Massive Report posted an article last week asking readers about their thoughts on the protected list. The Crew announced their contract extensions this week, and goalkeeper Steve Clark is one of the bigger names on the list of players who did not have their option picked up. We expected that Clark might be available in the Expansion Draft due to the midseason signing of promising young goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Michael Parkhurst also had his option declined. He has been discussing an extension with the club for months now with no progress. Parkhurst, the Crew’s captain and a former USMNT center back, could prove to be an intriguing option for Atlanta in the Expansion or Re-Entry drafts.
D.C. United: So far, the biggest off-season move made by D.C. has been the permanent acquisition of Luciano Acosta from Boca Juniors. He was on loan for the 2016 season and D.C. had an option to complete a purchase.
FC Dallas: Big D Soccer posted a great recap of Dallas’ roster situation heading into the off-season after they picked up the option on ten players this week. Chris Seitz was one player that we had on the unprotected list who had his contract option triggered. He still could be left unprotected once that Expansion Draft list is submitted.
Houston Dynamo: With Wilmer Cabrera now in charge of the Dynamo moving forward, attention turns to what they will do to improve a roster that earned a 19th place finish in the MLS table in 2016. Two players that are in limbo at the moment are Cubo Torres and DaMarcus Beasley. Cruz Azul has an option to buy the on-loan striker for $2.5 million, but that is probably unlikely due to the lack of playing time Torres received while on loan. Torres and Cabrera have a good relationship dating back to their Chivas USA days. If he returns to the Dynamo, he would likely be protected in the Expansion Draft.
Beasley is out of contract and the club has not put forward an offer yet. David Horst and Collen Warner are also out of contract. General manager Matt Jordan said the club is negotiating with them.
The club somewhat surprisingly declined their option on Argentine midfielder Cristian Maidana. He will be eligible for the Re-Entry Draft and could be enticing for Atlanta United. While we do not know what his option year salary would be, his 2016 salary of under $240,000 could be comfortable for Atlanta’s salary cap.
LA Galaxy: LAG Confidential posted their proposed protected list on Monday, before the news that Bruce Arena will likely replace Jurgen Klinsmann as manager of the USMNT. We’ll have to wait and see if that changes anything on their protected list.
If the Galaxy decide to promote from within to replace Arena, Curt Onalfo could be their next manager.
Since we published our list, news has come that Robbie Keane will be leaving the Galaxy. That would mean that he would definitely be unprotected, unless his rights are traded ahead of the lists being submitted.
The Galaxy have been linked to Sami Khedira. NYCFC and NY Red Bulls are also in the running for the German midfielder.
Montreal Impact: With the Impact still alive in the playoffs, nothing has come out about their option decisions. Didier Drogba, who lost his starting job late in the season, will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
New England Revolution: The Bent Musket reported that coach Jay Heaps recently went to Turkey on a scouting trip. The club said they are looking at TAM level players at a number of positions.
The Revolution announced their option decisions. Local product Jordan McCrary will be available in the Waiver Draft after his option was declined. Teal Bunbury did have his option picked up by the club, but still could be left exposed in the Expansion Draft.
New York City FC: Frank Lampard announced earlier this month that he is leaving the club. Andoni Iraola and Mehdi Ballouchy also announced their retirements.
On the incoming side, the Citizens have been linked to Sami Khedira. LA Galaxy and NY Red Bulls are also in the running for the German international.
NYCFC announced their roster decisions, with seven players leaving the club this offseason.
New York Red Bulls: Center back Aurelien Collin is out of contract. He has said he wants to return to the club, but it is unclear if they want to re-sign him.
The Red Bulls have been linked to Sami Khedira. LA Galaxy and NYCFC are also in the running.
The club declined options on Karl Ouimette and Ronald Zubar, but are negotiating with Zubar on a new deal. Local outside back Chris Duvall had his option picked up by the Red Bulls.
Orlando City: The Lions announced that they declined options on six players earlier this week. Seb Hines was a player that we expected to be on their protected list, but a defensive makeover is clearly on the cards for Orlando.
We do know Kaka will be back for one more year in Orlando.
Philadelphia Union: The Union announced their options earlier in the month. Eric Ayuk is one player that we thought might be left unprotected whose option was picked up by the club. He still could be available in the Expansion Draft, depending on who Philadelphia decides to protect.
Leo Fernandes and Charlie Davies are out of contract.
Walter Restrepo, Cole Missimo, Taylor Washington, Anderson, and Matt Jones had their options declined. If they are not re-signed by the Union to a new contract, they will be available in the Waiver Draft on December 15.
Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe is rumored to be on the shopping list of Celtic. There are questions on whether he would be able to get a work permit though.
Dairon Asprilla, who was loaned to Colombia’s Millonarios, has reportedly expressed an interest in returning to the club at the conclusion of the loan next summer.
Real Salt Lake: Club legends Javier Morales and Jamison Olave will be leaving the club. We expected that both would be exposed in the Expansion Draft even if they were re-signed as RSL has some tough decisions to make on who they protect.
San Jose Earthquakes: Chad Barrett will be leaving the Earthquakes after one season. He signed a one year deal last year as a free agent, and will be available through MLS Free Agency again.
Last year, the team did not announce their option decisions until December 1 and they have not announced anything as of yet this year. Barrett came out publicly about the club’s decision not to retain him.
Seattle Sounders: Two players, Cristian Roldan and Damion Lowe, graduated from the Generation adidas program and would have to be protected in the Expansion Draft.
Sounder at Heart posted an open thread on who the Sounders’ fans would like to see protected.
Sporting Kansas City: Ike Opara was recently signed to a new contract through 2017, with club options for 2018 and 2019.
The club picked up five options for next season, let five expire, and have another four out of contract. Nuno Coelho and Jacob Peterson were on our protected list for the Expansion Draft and both are currently out of contract.
The Blue Testament’s staff voted on their protected list, and it differed a bit from ours. One bit of news from their article, Matt Besler must be protected due to a no-trade clause in his Designated Player contract.
Toronto FC: Will Johnson, who has lost his starting position late in the season, will be likely exploring MLS Free Agency at the end of the season. Other decisions will likely have to wait until the end of the Reds’ playoff run.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Pedro Morales is the biggest name whose option was not picked up by the Whitecaps. He would likely be left unprotected, which means Atlanta United could draft him in the Expansion Draft or three days later in the Re-Entry Draft if he’s still available.
Another change to our projected protected list would be Fraser Aird, who appears to be headed back to Rangers after his season-long loan expires.