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LAFC could lose player in FC Cincinnati’s expansion draft

A year after being the beneficiary, they’re on the other side of it.

MLS: LAFC New Performance Center Grand Opening
LAFC GM John Thorrington will have to make a list of players to hide from FC Cincinnati.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MLS announced on Friday the procedures for the next Expansion Draft, to be held for FC Cincinnati on Dec. 11.

The quick and dirty detail is that Los Angeles Football Club could lose a player from their 2018 roster to the newest expansion team, should Cincinnati select one.

The details: MLS is treating FCC’s expansion draft and LAFC’s last year as a package deal, as though they were held together (although a year did separate them). What this means is that the five teams that lost a player in LAFC’s Expansion Draft — Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew SC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, and San Jose Earthquakes — will not be involved in this upcoming Expansion Draft, since precedent in the Expansion Drafts of the past is that teams cannot lose more than one player.

FC Cincinnati will get an extra bump in allocation money with fewer teams involved this time around, and that means the chance that LAFC will have a player taken increases.

However, it’s not guaranteed LAFC will lose anybody: FCC will pick five players, so the odds are still decent that no one will be taken.

The other teams, including LAFC, will need to submit lists of players protected before Dec. 10. There are a lot of particulars, but the gist is that LAFC can protect 11 players on their roster, and a few other classes of players, including Generation adidas (Joao Moutinho is in this group) are automatically protected already. So LAFC will be able to protect 12-15 players, depending on the roster rules.

There is sure to be a lot of talk about the utility of the Expansion Draft in the coming weeks, but LAFC showed last year value could be had in a restricted draft of just five selections. They took Tyler Miller, who turned out to be their starting goalkeeper, Latif Blessing and Marco Ureña, who provided significant contributions and were part-time starters across the season, and flipped their other two selections, Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards, for Laurent Ciman, their first captain and a stalwart in defense until he was sold in August. Teams can’t just assume they’ll get quality, but LAFC showed they could get full value in an Expansion Draft.

So now it’s up to John Thorrington and LAFC’s front office to make their list for the Expansion Draft. There’s plenty of strategy that goes into this kind of thing, sometimes a trade consummated around it as a handshake agreement, too. We’ll see if LAFC is involved in any of that.

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