Next week, Los Angeles Football Club will participate in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft. They’ll have the opportunity to select five players who are eligible (that is in MLS parlance, “unprotected”) for selection, with only one player allowed to be selected per existing team.
In order to gear up for the real thing, we harnessed the power of SB Nation to make a mock expansion draft for LAFC. Writers from around the SBN network submitted full lists of protected and unprotected players, and we here at Angels on Parade (Patrick Stoll, Ryan Goodwin and myself) picked players. The results are below.
A couple caveats before we jump in: First, we banned trades from this exercise. While in real life trades will almost certainly be made around the draft, either to block LAFC from taking unprotected players or to flip assets for more/different players, it’s simply too complicated to do this and account for potential trades.
Additionally, we avoided players on expiring loans. There was one player we seriously considered taking who was on an expiring loan deal, but we opted not to take him because we couldn’t remember an occasion where a team took a player whose loan was expiring in the expansion draft, and gaming out if it was actually allowed or not made our brains hurt. Good ‘ole MLS.
Here we go!
Alexander Ring (midfielder, New York City FC)
When perusing the lists of players made available by our fellow SB Nation bloggers, Ring immediately jumped out. The Finnish-German-Belgian holding midfielder brought a much-needed steel to NYCFC’s midfield, and if not for the bumper crop of talented newcomers in MLS this year, he would have been brought up far more often as one of the best new faces in the league. Ring would be the kind of building block piece that any expansion team would jump at picking up for free. The main concern? He’s an international player and will require an international slot on LAFC’s roster.
Do we think in real life NYCFC will leave Ring unprotected? No. He’s far too important for the starting XI under Patrick Vieira. But this shows that there may be a few shocking faces in the mix, and when you see an instant contributor available, most of the time you don’t need to think twice.
Romell Quioto (forward/winger, Houston Dynamo)
Will Quioto be available for selection in real life? Again, most likely not, but if he is, the 26-year-old would be a savvy pickup for any team looking for scoring options. The Honduran scored at a rough rate of once every three games, which is solid in MLS terms for a player who is not a central striker and was normally the third or fourth scoring option on the field for his team in 2017.
Of course, Quioto is also an international, so LAFC could opt to steer clear if they want to keep as many slots open as possible for signing internationals through other mechanisms. If they’re looking for a combination of MLS experience, a player in the prime of his career, and a track record of production, you could do far worse than Quioto.
Will Bruin (forward, Seattle Sounders)
Speaking of experience, production and a player in his prime, there’s Will Bruin. The striker, typically not fancied while playing for a series of mostly dire Houston Dynamo sides, has seen a significant rehabilitation in his reputation this year after moving to the Sounders. He was brought in as insurance in attack, and with Jordan Morris being injured and/or ineffective nearly all of the season, Bruin was very savvy insurance indeed, scoring 11 goals in 31 regular season appearances, and to date, two goals in four playoff games this season for Seattle.
Seattle’s team is stacked, so there’s bound to be a player or two who is very attractive but who the Sounders can’t protect in the expansion draft. Don’t be surprised if LAFC can leverage that into a trade with the Sounders in exchange for not picking one of their players. Otherwise, Bruin or another good MLS contributor will be available for the taking.
Drew Moor (defender, Toronto FC)
And on the topic of being stacked, a good indication of how stacked TFC are is that we seriously considered multiple TFC players left unprotected for our mock expansion draft. In the end, we went for an American with oodles of experience, a central defender, and a captain in Drew Moor. He’s 33, and he’s had some injuries, so this would not be a pick without risk. But he’s also been a starter for TFC in their quest to finish with the best-ever season in MLS history, including in the playoffs. He’s not been sent onto his dotage. At the same time, TFC have multiple central defenders who have gotten extended minutes this year, and so if they have to make a hard choice, there’s a decent chance Moor will be the odd man left unprotected. If that’s the case, he’s the perfect leader in the back to launch an expansion team with.
There is the question of whether he’ll be a free agent after MLS Cup. If that’s the case, he may or may not be eligible in the expansion draft, but assuming he’s available, he looks like a good option to take.
David Bingham (goalkeeper, San Jose Earthquakes - MLS rights)
I’ve already lobbied for LAFC to sign Bingham, but if he’s left unprotected in the expansion draft due to being out of contract with the Quakes and he doesn’t have an imminent deal to sign in Europe, picking him in the expansion draft seems like a no-brainer. Bingham is 28, is in the U.S. Men’s National Team mix, and is largely underrated after playing for a mostly awful San Jose side. The thinking here is again, if he doesn’t have an imminent deal abroad, LAFC should take Bingham and woo him to a new deal. It’s not a guarantee but I think LAFC could make a good case.
If it’s not Bingham here, we are fairly convinced LAFC will pick a goalkeeper of some sort in the expansion draft. Among the candidates made available for selection in the mock draft were Clint Irwin and Alec Kann, both starters at points this year. It does seem that between the expansion draft and free agency, there will be a good goalkeeper to pick up who can either be the No. 1 or No. 2, depending on who else is brought in for the 2018 season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!