The MLS Expansion Draft will take place sometime in December according to Atlanta United. To get ready for what lies ahead for the club, we are beginning this new series to examine possible available players from each MLS team. First up: Chicago Fire
This was a tough one to project. The Fire have been one of the worst franchises in the league for quite some time now. Any talent they possess will be scraping the bottom of the barrel in MLS. However, we tried our best to come up with a few names that could be a good fit and plausibly be available in the draft. Here’s what we came up with:
Projected Protected List:
- Brandon Vincent
- Matt Polster
- John Goosens
- Jonathan Campbell
- David Accam
- Rodrigo Ramos
- Johan Kappelhof
- Michael de Leeuw
- Khaly Thiam
- Luis Solignac
- Joao Meira
- Arturo Alvarez
- David Arshakyan
- Razvan Cocis
- Eric Gehrig
- Michael Harrington
- Sean Johnson
- Nick LaBrocca
- Matt Lampson
- Patrick McClain
- Alex Morrell
- Michael Stephens
Chicago has had some tough times in recent years, and the overall quality of their roster shows it. That said, there are some players who could benefit from a change of scenery.
When we look at potential targets for Atlanta United, we try to look at a variety of factors rather than just recent form or perceived value. We try to consider where they might fit with the players who are already signed to the club, salary cap implications, and more.
Potential Targets for Atlanta United: Michael Stephens, Sean Johnson, Arturo Alvarez, and Michael Harrington
Jason: Sean Johnson is a no-brainer for Atlanta’s target list. The Brookwood High School graduate has been among the best goalkeepers in MLS since he joined the Fire in 2010. He has made appearances for the U.S. national team. Velko Paunovic has rotated Johnson with Matt Lampson this season, so he would likely be available in the expansion draft rather that protected. Whether Atlanta selects him would depend on what other goalkeepers are available and whether they value his skill set. One knock on Johnson is his ability to play with his feet and his distribution.
I like Michael Stephens and have felt like he’s always been underrated. He’s versatile, but might be best suited to make a midfield duo with Chris McCann. He’s young enough to be the Brad Evans of this Expansion Draft and be with the club for a long time.
Arturo Alvarez has never quite lived up to the early hype in his career, but he is a skillful player. He could be a different type of wide player to play opposite Hector Villalba, or he could play as a playmaker in the middle of midfield.
Michael Harrington is decent at left back and knows the league well. His value might increase depending on the other options at outside back.
Rob: Frankly, I’m not very high on Sean Johnson. His local ties make him attractive, but his price tag and subsequent performance does not. There are plenty of other goalkeepers out there that are more appealing, in my opinion.
Michael Stephens seems like the best candidate from the Fire, if he is indeed available. He’s a player that can come off the bench or start and not interrupt your team’s flow. He’s got decent technical skills and can pick out a pass. No one will ever confuse him with being a star, but as a role player for an expansion team, he could be very valuable as a holding or box-to-box midfielder for depth purposes.
I don’t see Arturo Alvarez as being very attractive to a team like Atlanta United who are looking to go young. He’s an average player in the league and is getting up there in age. There will surely be better and more dynamic options in the draft, we can hope.
Michael Harrington is very intriguing to me. “Serviceable” is a good word to describe him as a full-back. He’s been consistently above average in this league for a while and is only 30 years old. While, I wouldn’t necessarily want him as a starter on my club, having him as a versatile role player along the back line makes a lot of sense. If there’s not many defensive options, he’s certainly worth consideration.