Almost a year ago, Los Angeles Football Club took part in their MLS Expansion Draft, building the first part of their roster outside of Designated Player Carlos Vela. In the draft, LAFC selected Tyler Miller from the Seattle Sounders, who became the team’s starting goalkeeper. Their second selection was Latif Blessing from Sporting Kansas City, a game-changer who came off the bench. They also took Marco Urena from San Jose, who was starting striker until the arrival of Adama Diomande. The final two picks, Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards, were flipped for Laurent Ciman from Montreal, who became the club’s first captain.
Now, LAFC must prepare for an Expansion Draft that is not their own, as MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati will partake in their own edition of the draft on December 11. The difference between this one and the last one is that MLS is considering the two as a package deal, meaning that the clubs who lost a player in the Expansion Draft last year will be eliminated from the event this year, as if one of their players were already selected in the draft. This means that Seattle, Kansas City, San Jose, Columbus, and Toronto do not have to worry about losing anyone, but also means that there is that much more of a chance of LAFC having a player picked.
LAFC is allowed by MLS rules to protect 11 players in the draft between their Senior, Supplemental, and Reserve rosters. Homegrown and Generation Adidas players are exempt and already protected. For LAFC, this means that Joao Moutinho is already protected without counting against that count of 11. Aaron Kovar is also designated as a Homegrown player, which means he is automatically safe as well if he is counted as an LAFC Homegrown.
It’s worth noting that LAFC can have a maximum of one player picked in the draft and that Cincy only has five picks. LAFC is not at too much of a risk of losing a major piece, but they will still have to protect those who they least want to lose.
Designated players are not automatically protected, which means that LAFC will protect Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Andre Horta almost by default. This means LAFC has eight more slots.
With those eight slots, LAFC should basically protect their most valuable players so that they cannot lose them, just in case. My best stab at those eight would be:
- Latif Blessing (Forward)
- Adama Diomande (Forward)
- Benny Feilhaber (Midfielder)
- Mark-Anthony Kaye (Midfielder)
- Tyler Miller (Goalkeeper)
- Lee Nguyen (Midfielder)
- Christian Ramirez (Forward)
- Walker Zimmerman (Defender)
This would mean that the available players to draft from LAFC would be:
- Steven Beitashour (Defender)
- Tristan Blackmon (Midfielder)
- Shaft Brewer (Forward)
- Nicolas Czornomaz (Midfielder)
- Jordan Harvey (Defender)
- Dejan Jakovic (Defender)
- Luis Lopez (Goalkeeper)
- Charlie Lyon (Goalkeeper)
- Calum Mallace (Midfielder)
- James Murphy (Midfielder)
- Josh Perez (Forward)
- Quillan Roberts (Goalkeeper)
- Marco Ureña (Forward)
Obviously, the big ones left available that are at real risk of being scooped up are Harvey, Beitashour, Jakovic, and Ureña. That would be both starting fullbacks, a defender who is in the rotation pretty regularly, and a striker who started for half the season.
One player who we know is currently out on loan and will not be eligible to be drafted is Steeve Saint-Duc, who is currently in Norway at Strømman. He will not be able to be picked in the draft.
These selections are based on the information we have right now about LAFC’s roster, so when they release new information about roster moves I reserve the right to make changes, but two players that we are not aware of how their roster status plays into the expansion draft is Eduard Atuesta and Danilo Silva. Both are admittedly pretty important for the team going forward, but both were on loan at LAFC at the end of the season, so it is not yet clear as to how they are considered. A similar situation is true for Brewer, who is classified as Homegrown on LAFC’s roster, but since he isn’t a typical academy-produced Homegrown player by LAFC, will he be exempt from selection automatically?
LAFC, going into the expansion draft, needs to go with a policy of not over-thinking who they want to protect. The team gets 11 players to protect, and while they can only lose one at the most, they also have a slightly increased chance of having someone picked. LAFC was able to start their roster off on the right foot a year ago, and want to protect the most important players first in order to be as little affected by the draft as possible.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!