Monday, LAFC released their list of protected and unprotected players for the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, which MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati will take part in ahead of their debut season.
Cincy will have five picks and can pick a maximum of one player per team, not including Seattle, Kansas City, San Jose, Columbus, and Toronto, as LAFC selected players from them last year.
There are a few categories of player that will be available for Cincy to pick if they want one of LAFC’s players. Some are out of contract. Some are free agents and unlikely to be picked, because picking a free agent only gives the team first crack at signing them. The others are straight up unprotected and could be swept away.
Out of contract players from LAFC available for Expansion Draft:
Nico Czornomaz (midfielder)
Dejan Jakovic (defender)
Charlie Lyon (goalkeeper)
Calum Mallace (midfielder)
James Murphy (midfielder)
Quillian Roberts (goalkeeper)
Steeve Saint-Duc (forward)
Marco Urena (forward)
These players, as they are out of contract or just had options declined, will likely not be drafted, as they can go through the Re-Entry or Waiver Drafts or could end up being free agents if no team picks them up. It would not do much more for Cincy to pick them in the draft and use a pick on them. Worth noting, however, is that Jakovic and Urena could be more than useful for teams looking for some depth or even a starter.
Free agents from LAFC and ended loans, also eligible for Expansion Draft:
Danilo Silva (defender) - loan ended
Benny Feilhaber (midfielder) - free agent
Jordan Harvey (defender) - free agent
Luis Lopez (goalkeeper) - loan ended
These players, as they are free agents, are pretty sure not to be picked. For Silva and Lopez, we can count on their names not being called, as if you draft a player like one of them, who played in MLS but does not currently, you just get their rights in case they come back. That would apply a little more to Silva than Lopez, but Cincy is not going to pick one of them. Feilhaber and Harvey, on the other hand, should attract some free agent interest from teams in the league.
Available LAFC roster players:
Steven Beitashour (defender)
Tristan Blackmon (defender)
Josh Perez (midfielder)
This is where it gets a bit tricky for LAFC. These are the three players that there is a legitimate chance they are picked. Blackmon is a 22-year-old defender who went on loan to Phoenix Rising in the USL for the last half of the season. I think Cincy will pass on taking him, just because the Expansion Draft is one of the first steps of building your roster. It is unlikely they would take Blackmon over other available options.
Josh Perez is a bit of a different case. Perez is just 20 years old and was just brought in from Fiorentina by LAFC. He’s widely regarded as a player with a decent amount of upside. This would be an interesting move if he was taken, because although he has a lot of promise, we haven’t seen him turn into that player yet. LAFC like him and want to keep him around, and he is very much a look for the future, but I don’t think Cincinnati will pick him based on what he has shown in MLS right now.
Then, there is Steven Beitashour. This is the player that, when you look at the pool of available players, LAFC has a legitimate chance of losing. Beitashour was the starting wing-back for Toronto in their record-breaking championship season, then came over to LAFC. In LA, he established himself quickly and firmly as the starting right-back, regardless of the formation that Bob Bradley was using, especially early in the season. Beitashour is an established veteran who can be counted as one of the top five right-backs in MLS, and adds to the game offensively and defensively. Cincinnati could lock down their RB spot for the season by picking him, and LAFC essentially ran out of spots to protect him with. LAFC stands a decent chance at losing Beitashour if Cincy thinks he would work in their system.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!