The MLS expansion draft is almost upon us once again, it’s hard to believe that around this time just one short year ago Atlanta was the one picking and choosing players to pluck from other teams. Even though we were in this position not long ago it can be difficult to wrap your head around some of the rules and methods that MLS has in place. For those of you who need a bit of a reminder of how this whole process will go down:
- Teams are allowed to protect a total of 11 players form their senior, supplemental and reserve roster.
- Generation Adidas players and homegrown players are on supplemental rosters are automatically protected and exempt from the expansion draft.
- Only one player per existing team is eligible to be claimed from their non-protected list. Once a player is claimed that team is then eliminated from the draft and not allowed to lose any other players
- Since there is only one team entering the league the draft will consist of 5 picks
After much anticipation here are the official Protected and Unprotected player lists for Atlanta United:
- Miguel Almiron
- Josef Martinez
- Tito Villalba
- Brad Guzan
- Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
- Carlos Carmona
- Brandon Vazquez
- Michael Parkhurst
- Alec Kann
- Julian Gressel
- Greg Garza
- Mikey Ambrose
- Kevin Kratz
- Chris McCann
- Jacob Peterson
- Romario WIlliams
- Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu
- Tyler Pasher
- Kevin Oliveira
- Jeff Larentowicz (Contract Expired)
- Jeffrey Otoo (Option Declined)
- Bobby Boswell (Option Declined)
- Mark Bloom (Option Declined)
- Zach Loyd (Option Declined)
- Tyrone Mears (Option Declined)
- Kyle Reynish (Option Declined)
- Andrew Carleton (HG)
- Chris Goslin (HG)
- Miles Robinson (GA)
The Dirty South Soccer staff projected 10 spots on the list correctly except for Romario Williams, he is left unprotected while goalkeeper Alec Kann takes his spot on the official protected list. It is a bit of a surprise considering that Williams was the top scorer in USL last season and looked poised to be a part of the Five Stripes’ squad next season. Atlanta recently signed USL goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt (who is also exempt from the expansion draft) so by protecting Kann it looks as if they are putting an emphasis on having 3 strong and capable keepers for the 2018 season.
It is worth noting that Atlanta did make an unusual trade with expansion side LAFC earlier today. ATL will send a one year international roster spot to LA and in return they have acquired a 4th round 2018 SuperDraft pick. This is an interesting move to say the least; it goes against what we have seen from Atlanta In the past. You would think a team with such an international influence would not want to reduce the amount of international players they can have on the roster.
That being said, since it was with LAFC and so close to the expansion draft you wonder, could this be another strategic move from the front office? Maybe this can act as some sort of peace treaty until after the draft. Something along the lines of, we’ll give you an international spot but you don't take any of our players. And although the 4th round SuperDraft pick may not be glamorous it could be another great tool to round out the new USL squad for next year.