And San Jose Steals...
The 2007 Expansion Draft will occur on November 21st. This is the day many MLS teams graciously give away a player to help those less fortunate teams currently without any. But who will San Jose want? And who will DC United protect? These are the questions that we will attempt to answer today.
Firstly, we have to figure out who DC United will protect. To do this we must figure out what the DC United of 2008 will look like. Some of these questions are as of yet unanswerable. Where will Gomez end up? What is happening with Moreno? Will we sign Juan Sebastian Veron? Will Sohen and Kasper see anybody else the like in the land of steak and tango? It make sense for them to be down there hammering out a deal with Veron before the Expansion Draft because that is going to have big effect on their decisions. There has been a lot of discussion about these questions lately, but the two best pieces we have seen are Goff's roster analysis and UnitedMania's preview of 2008. Both of those links are must reads.
Now that you have read up on where DCU's roster might be next season we have to move on to their Expansion Draft player protection plan. I just made that term up, but I like it. We will run through different scenarios here just get our thoughts out there. Obviously United may not have all the information about who is leaving and staying before the 21st, they might and if they do it changes who they protect. Remember these are just best guesses, while we consider ourselves knowledgeable, there is a reason we are blogging and Payne/Kasper/Soehn are running the show.
If Gomez and Moreno Leave:
Emilio, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Carroll, Burch, Vanney, Boswell, Namoff, McTavish, Perkins
It makes the Expansion Draft easy but next year amazingly hard. Hopefully this won't happen. Moreno becomes a lot more important if Gomez leaves as one of the few players that can currently hold the ball - something I don't think we will be getting from the "super"draft or waiver board, but might with the right designated player. Basically United .07 was a team that was 13 players deep with some role players (Dyachenko, Moose, Mediate) coming in and out of the picture. If United really think Dyachenko was coming on strong at the end of the season the may protect him over Carroll but I seriously doubt it.
If Gomez Leaves:
Moreno, Emilio, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Burch, Vanney, Boswell, Namoff, McTavish, Perkins
Carroll gets dropped because United has the depth at D-Mid to do so (especially if Veron signs) and his salary is very high for a substitute. Some would argue Vanney here and that may happen if United can't re-tool his contract but we need veteran leadership in the back and Vanney brought some of that at the end of the season even if he failed in some other (read aerial) areas. Again this "veteran leadership" United probably will not be able to get from the waivers and definitely won't get from the draft. It might be worth it for United to go out and spend big money on a foreign defender, but that hasn't been the way they have operated in the past. Obviously this one can also be used if just Moreno leaves by swapping Moreno and Gomez.
If Nobody Leaves:
Moreno, Emilio, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Burch, Vanney, Namoff, McTavish, Perkins
The question now becomes, Vanney or Boswell? I would lean towards protecting Boswell because of his low salary and potential, but according to Goff United seem to be headed in the opposite direction. Either choice is valid especially after I just waxed on about how hard it is to find veteran leadership in the back. One possible twist is that if the Veron deal goes through before the Expansion Draft United may choose to protect Boswell for salary cap reasons.
And San Jose Steals:
There are plenty of better D-Mids in the league but none of them are going to be up in the Expansion Draft. It is a valuable position, but one that an allocation usually isn't used for. That leaves the Expansion Draft and the "Super" Draft for the Earthquakes to find a quality D-Mid. Not too many players are going to be able to jump in to the starting D-Mid spot right from college (the obvious exception being this year's Rookie of the Year). The Earthquakes might take Vanney but I doubt it because he has quite a large salary and there are other decent options out there for defenders. That said if Yallop sees him as Agoos 2.0 he is gone in a flash.
I still hold out hope for that 2% chance that Gros is just player rope-a-dope for the Expansion Draft and will be back for next year, but unfortunately I think his career is done. This is very sad, especially for somebody like me who could describe his former soccer playing years like a "poor man's Josh Gros."
I would love it if United could work out a trade with San Jose for some of the talent that will be available to them. United basically needs quality 3rd and 4th forwards, a winger sub to replace Josh, and quality center defender if Vanney or Boswell are taken. Houston has a plethora of quality wingers and fourth forwards on some teams would make third forwards on United. The expansion draft deals in role players which is what United needs most right now.
Mr. Lifton over at Booked for Dissent thinks that we should leave Gomez unprotected if MLS rules against a second DP per team. His reasoning is that Donovan will surely be headed to San Jose if this occurs and there is a decent chance United signs Veron and will then run into salary cap issues. Interesting thinking, but I don't think you roll the dice like that, but that's just me.