MLS News
Examining New York City FC's and Orlando City SC's Biggest Needs
MLS News
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 11:07

New York City FC and Orlando City SC beefed up their squads in the expansion draft on Wednesday, Dec. 10 and also executed a few trades. However, the MLS season doesn't start until March, so they both have plenty of time to add more players. 

The two teams each have a couple of positional needs which will be examined in this piece.

 

Orlando City SC

The most important trade for Orlando was to acquire Aurelien Collin and Amobi Okugo which gives them two proven MLS players in key positions. They now respectively have an established center back and a player who can play as a holding midfielder or on defense. 

Orlando is set with their goalkeepers. Tally Hall will be injured for the first few weeks of the season, but that's why the club picked up Donovan Ricketts in the expansion draft. The Jamaican is an experienced, formidable MLS starter even as he approaches 40.

Heath Pearce is a valuable addition, but he struggles in the air and with his tackling, so Orlando's brass could sign an upgrade to play alongside Collin. Youngsters like Tommy Redding could eventually become starters, but for now it may be best to try and find someone else.

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Turner and Rafael Ramos can both play on the right, so that position seems to be sorted. Meanwhile, Luke Boden has been a stalwart on the left flank, so head coach Adrian Heath may rely on him. However, signing another player for depth purposes would be a smart idea.

Okugo and Kaka will respectively provide the defensive and attacking duties in midfield. Estrela and Darwin Ceren will probably help Okugo, while Kevin Molino, Tony Cascio and Lewis Neal add some depth. The flanks could be boosted further by Brek Shea, who according to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel is on the verge of signing with the club.

Honduran striker Bryan Rochez inked a designated player contract with Orlando, per MLSSoccer.com. That's a big move, since Jairo Arrieta is an inconsistent scorer. Also, Danny Mwanga and Pedro Ribeiro are going to be long-term projects and are still inexperienced.

 

New York City FC

The Frank Lampard saga continues to dominate New York City FC. The on-loan midfielder has performed admirably with Manchester City so manager Manuel Pellegrini wants to retain him, per the BBC. If Lampard ends up remaining in England for a longer period of time, that will alter NYCFC's offseason plans.

New York City's goalkeepers may not have as much collective experience as Orlando's but are still three solid shot-stoppers who can be capable starters in MLS.

The projected back line would probably have either Josh Williams or Jeb Brovsky at right-back and Chris Wingert on the left. Jason Hernandez and George John would most likely be the starting center backs. Brovsky, Wingert and Williams are solid, but centrally, there are worries.

John had season-ending knee surgery in the summer and has suffered chronic injuries for a few years. However, if the ex-Washington Husky can stay healthy, he'd be an exceptional player for New York City.

Hernandez has played in 218 MLS regular-season games but was a rotation option with the San Jose Earthquakes. The 31-year-old isn't terrible, but considering John's injury problems and the lack of depth, NYCFC has to sign at least one more center back.

Lampard is clearly NYC's best midfielder, but his potential absence in the opening match will create a dilemma for head coach Jason Kreis.

Mehdi Ballouchy was a reserve with the Vancouver Whitecaps last season after recovering from severe knee injuries when he was with the Earthquakes. Ned Grabavoy and Andrew Jacobson are the only other options to start in the heart of the midfield.

Thomas McNamara tore his ACL after a promising start to his rookie campaign in 2014, but he was electric in an attacking role with Chivas USA. That's another area in which NYCFC is thin, so midfielders have to be on the wish list.

David Villa is the clear No. 1 striker in the squad, with Patrick Mullins and Tony Taylor fighting for the second spot. Omar Salgado is rumored to be sold to an international club soon, per the MLS website, so he won't be a part of the team by the time March rolls around.

New York City has more work to do compared to Orlando, but both sides have plenty of available international slots, so there should be several moves coming down the pipe.

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10 Players Who Would Be Brilliant, and Viable, Additions to MLS in 2015
MLS News
Friday, 12 December 2014 05:00

Identifying an exciting addition to Major League Soccer is a complicated exercise. The player needs to be very good, preferably with name recognition.

But he can't be too good, or the thought of having him leave his current situation to play in MLS would be absurd.

In so many ways, Landon Donovan was the perfect MLS star. He was a transforming talent for the Galaxy and had great moments for the United States men's national team. But while he played in Europe, he never established himself as a star there such that returning to MLS would be too much of a drop in level to make sense.

Now Donovan is gone. Some of the players listed in this piece could go a long way toward filling the star void Donovan left in MLS. Some would just be intriguing additions to the league.

Judge for yourself whether these players would consider making the move to MLS now, and whether they would have an impact if they did.

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Progress Report on Orlando City Squad Following MLS Expansion Draft
MLS News
Thursday, 11 December 2014 23:10

Following a few years of play in the lower divisions of American soccer, Orlando City will join Major League Soccer in 2015. 

The Lions may not have the fancy association to a European club like fellow expansion side New York City FC, but they have potential to be a real contender in the Eastern Conference in 2015. 

Managed by Adrian Heath, Orlando has a marquee designated player in Kaka, and it has built up a solid spine in the last week. 

Before we analyze the roster of the club, here is a look at who will be playing for the Florida-based side in 2015: 

 

Goalkeeper

The Lions aren't messing around went it comes to the goalkeeper position, as they have brought in two league veterans to man the space in between the pipes. 

Tally Hall is the younger of the two 'keepers, and he should be around for the long term. However, the 29-year-old former Dynamo player is in the process of rehabbing a torn ACL.

With that in mind, Orlando City picked Donovan Ricketts with the No. 1 pick in the expansion draft. The 37-year-old Jamaican has played for three clubs in MLS over the last six seasons with Portland being his latest home. 

Ricketts will be the starting 'keeper for the first match of the season, but he may not keep his spot in the starting 11 for the entire season.

Regardless of who starts in net in 2015, the Lions will not have to worry about a lack of experience in goal. 

 

Defense 

The big name in the Orlando City defense is Aurelien Collin, who was acquired from Sporting Kansas City during Monday's four-hour trade window. 

Collin is one of the top defensive enforcers in the league, and he will bring plenty of attitude to a young defensive corps.

Alongside Collin will be Heath Pearce, who was chosen in Wednesday's expansion draft. The 30-year-old American has been rescued from the perils of Montreal to partner the imposing Frenchman at center-back. 

On the wings, the Lions may be sporting a younger look with Tyler Turner and Luke Boden poised to earn starting positions. 

Orlando City did acquire Eric Gehrig in the expansion draft, but the former Columbus player was sent to Chicago after the draft ended. Jalil Anibaba was also selected in Wednesday's draft, but he was shipped off to Sporting Kansas City to finalize the Collin trade. 

With those players out of the picture, it looks like Turner and Boden will be handed an opportunity to replicate their 2014 USL Pro seasons in MLS. 

To round out the defensive depth chart, the Lions have homegrown player Tommy Redding at center-back and Rafael Ramos, a 19-year-old right-back, who was signed by the club near the end of the 2014 USL Pro season. 

Just like NYCFC, Orlando is not finished acquiring players at this position, but it does have a solid foundation in place. 

 

Midfield

The biggest star on the Orlando City roster is Kaka, who will be one of the many new designated players entering the league in 2015. 

At 32, Kaka still has a few years left in his legs, and it would not be a surprise to see him star during his first season in the United States. If he is half the player he was at AC Milan or Real Madrid, he could finish in the top five in goals or assists in 2015. 

In the defensive half of midfield, the Lions have a rock in Amobi Okugo. The 23-year-old is a defensive midfielder by trade, but he was utilized at center-back during his final two seasons in Philadelphia as well.

If he is able to finally settle into his true position in Orlando, Okugo has the potential to climb into the United States men's national team discussion. Do not be surprised if he also makes the 2015 MLS All-Star team.

In the expansion draft, Orlando obtained Tony Cascio from Colorado, Lewis Neal from D.C. United and Pedro Ribeiro from Philadelphia. The trio of players has the potential to be major contributors in Orlando, but it all depends on how they fit into the club's system. 

Cascio is expected to open things up on the wing, while Ribeiro should earn a shot to backup Kaka or even play up top at some point. Neal has been a solid option off the bench for D.C. over the last three seasons and should play the same role in Orlando. 

The other two recognizable faces in the Orlando midfield are Kevin Molino and Darwin Ceren. Molino was the first player signed to an MLS contract by the club, while Ceren is a useful player who is the captain of the El Salvador national team. 

Harrison Heath, who is the son of manager Adrian, is also on the roster, but at 18 years old he is a prospect for the future. Estrela, 19, will also be another reserve to watch in regard to development. 

 

Forward

The Lions still have some work to do up top, but they have acquired a few nice pieces at the forward position. 

Jairo Arrieta is the best forward on the current roster, as he brings 17 MLS goals with him. The Costa Rican's playing time in 2014 was cut short due to injuries. But when he is healthy, he can be a key contributor in the goal department. 

Orlando also added 19-year-old Bryan Rochez from Honduran side Real Espana this week. Despite his young age, Rochez has turned himself into a proven asset in front of goal. Over the last three seasons in Honduras, Rochez scored 30 goals, per Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel. 

Former MLS SuperDraft No. 1 overall pick Danny Mwanga was also taken in the expansion draft. Since entering the league in 2010, Mwanga has scored 15 goals for three different teams. He hasn't scored a league goal since his brace for Portland against San Jose on September 19, 2012. 

If Rochez can extend his talents into MLS, the Lions may not be in bad shape up top. However, it would be ideal for them to bring in another forward in case one of the current players does not produce. 

 

Progress Report Grade: B+

It can be argued that Orlando has built its roster in a better fashion than New York City FC over the last few days. 

Bringing in Collin and Okugo to shape the team's spine was an excellent move by the front office. As was the addition of Ricketts with Hall on the mend in goal. Some work can be done at the forward position, but Arrieta and Rochez are good for the time being. 

Depth is an issue at the moment, but we can expect the Lions to build that up throughout the rest of the offseason. If they improve on their depth with quality signings, they could earn a higher grade when the offseason ends. 

 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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Ranking the 5 Best Defenders from the 2014 MLS Season
MLS News
Thursday, 11 December 2014 01:42

The 2014 Major League Soccer season was all about the impressive attackers who took to the pitches across North America. But there were a few defenders who stood out in a year dominated by goalscorers. 

While it may have been a down year for both full-back positions, plenty of center-backs enjoyed successful seasons for their respective clubs.

All five of the players we rank on this list are center-backs who proved to be game changers for playoff-bound clubs. 

Here's a look at the five best defenders from the 2014 MLS season. 

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Progress Report on NYCFC Squad Following MLS Expansion Draft
MLS News
Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:12

With less than four months remaining until the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season, expansion side New York City FC is beginning to mold its roster. 

Before Wednesday's expansion draft, the sister club of Manchester City only had a few players on its roster, including Frank Lampard and David Villa.

Now that Jason Kreis' side has had the chance to bolster its roster through the expansion draft, it is time to take a closer look at how the roster is being formed.

Here is a list of the current players who have been acquired by New York City FC over the last year: 

 

Goalkeeper

Kreis opted for experience in net over the summer, when he signed Josh Saunders on a free transfer. Before joining up with NYCFC, Saunders spent time with the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. 

Saunders has never been a consistent No. 1 'keeper in the league, but he does bring a good amount of experience with him to the pitch. 

It appears as though Saunders will have a chance to mentor a young player at the position, as the club acquired Ryan Meara on loan from the New York Red Bulls, per Soccer by Ives' Ives Galarcep: 

Meara is a prospect with a high upside, who was not going to get playing time with the Red Bulls due to the presence of Luis Robles. 

Sending Meara out on loan works for both sides, as the player can gain experience while NYCFC does not have to spend a ton on a first-choice goalkeeper. 

The 24-year-old did play in 18 games for the Red Bulls back in 2012. But he hasn't seen much action since, which could concern some fans during the first month or two of the regular season. 

 

Defense 

In the process of shaping his back four, Kreis called upon two players he is extremely familiar with from his days at Real Salt Lake. 

Kwame Watson-Siriboe was acquired in a trade with RSL over the summer, while Chris Wingert was obtained in the expansion draft. 

Rounding out the current defensive unit are Josh Williams, Jeb Brovsky, George John and Jason Hernandez. On paper, the six players may not form a formidable unit, but there is a foundation being built at the position.

The one guarantee we can make right now about the NYCFC defense is Wingert will be the starting left-back when March rolls around. The 32-year-old has been one of the most consistent full-backs in the league over the last seven years with Real Salt Lake. 

The other three starting positions are still up in the air, but we could see some of the players listed above in the franchise's first starting lineup.

Watson-Siriboe, Williams, Hernandez and John are all natural center-backs, but Williams has been utilized at both full-back positions during his career. 

When healthy, John could become the team's best option at center-back. But he did not play in 2014 due to a right knee injury for which he underwent surgery on in July. 

Brovsky is the club's best right-back at the moment, and there is a high possibility he will be employed at that position to start the season. 

While the play at both full-back positions is not a concern, the performance of the center-backs is something to worry about at the moment. However, NYCFC will have to add more defenders throughout the offseason for depth so do not bank on some of the current players to start in the first match. 

 

Midfield

The big question hanging over the franchise at the moment is the status of Frank Lampard, who is currently out on loan at Manchester City. 

Director of football operations Claudio Reyna will be in Manchester this week to discuss the status of Lampard among other things, per Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated: 

Beyond Lampard, the midfield is filling out quite nicely so far for the young club. Ned Grabavoy, Mehdi Ballouchy and Tommy McNamara were added to the squad in the expansion draft along with Sal Zizzo, but Zizzo is rumored to be a part of the Meara loan deal. 

Before the expansion draft, Andrew Jacobson and Matt Dunn were the two midfielders not named Lampard on the roster. Jacobson, who has spent time at three different MLS clubs, was on loan at Stabaek in Norway this season. Dunn was acquired in the Chivas USA dispersal draft held in November. 

The key acquisition at the position is Grabavoy, who became one of the most reliable central midfielders in the league during his time at RSL. If Lampard does return in time for the MLS season, Grabavoy will most likely line up next to the English star. 

Jacobson is another reliable player to have in the squad, and he also brings with him the experience of playing with an expansion side. He was a part of Philadelphia's inaugural season in 2010. 

McNamara and Dunn are young prospects, who like Meara, have a ton of potential waiting to be unlocked by Kreis. How the two former Chivas USA players respond to Kreis will determine how big of a role they play in 2015. 

As for Ballouchy, his selection in the expansion draft was a bit odd considering he has played in 20 games over the last three seasons. How NYCFC utilizes him, if they hold on to him, will be interesting to say the least. 

 

Forward

The marquee name at the forward position is David Villa, who joined the club after a successful 2013-14 campaign with Atletico Madrid. 

Villa's potential strike partner was obtained Wednesday in the form of Patrick Mullins. The 22-year-old was seen as one of the top picks in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but he dropped all the way to 11th where New England picked him up. 

In his lone season with the Revolution, Mullins impressed a good amount of people by scoring four goals in 21 games. He also played a major role in the equalizer scored by the Revolution in Sunday's MLS Cup Final. 

By joining NYCFC, Mullins gained a golden opportunity to study under Villa and become a better player for the long run. 

Tony Taylor was the other New England forward taken in Wednesday's expansion draft, but not many people know a lot about the 25-year-old. He does have a bit of European experience, as he played in Portugal and Cyprus before arriving in MLS. But he was not handed much playing time with the Revolution due to the success of Charlie Davies and Mullins. 

What NYCFC gets out of Taylor remains to be seen, but the club must love the potential of a Mullins-Villa partnership heading into 2015. 

 

Progress Report Grade: B- 

NYCFC made plenty of progress in the expansion draft with the acquisitions of Grabavoy and Mullins. But there still is plenty of work to be done for Kreis and Reyna to put a successful product out on the pitch in March. 

The defense still needs to be worked on, and the Lampard situation needs to be solved sooner rather than later. 

NYCFC also has a third designated-player spot open, which we can assume will be used given the wealth behind the club. 

The B- grade we issue here can certainly be improved upon during the offseason. We also trust that Kreis, who built RSL into what it is today, will use his eye for talent to bring in players who are sure to be successful at the club right away. 

 

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MLS Expansion Draft 2014 Results: List of Picks for Orlando City FC, NYC FC
MLS News
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 13:49

The 2014 MLS Expansion Draft took place Wednesday, as new franchises Orlando City FC and New York City FC were given the chance to add 10 players each to start finalizing their rosters for the 2015 MLS season.         

Orlando won the right to the first overall pick and selected veteran goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from the Portland Timbers. New York moved for Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy to add some physicality to its midfield.

Below is the full list of selections:

TSN's Luke Wileman reports Lovitz' tenure with NYCFC was shortlived:

With just three minutes permitted between selections, the pace of this year's draft was furious. Both clubs came in with a clear strategy, and it quickly became clear the mock drafts of numerous pundits were close to spot-on.

Ricketts wasn't a particularly flashy selection for Orlando, but the veteran will add a ton of experience to the squad and compete for the starting position from Day 1, as shared by MLSsoccer.com's Darrell Lovell:

People had been mocking Grabavoy to New York City for weeks, making for arguably the least surprising selection of the entire draft. The 31-year-old midfielder is a smart and reliable player and should combine well with stars Frank Lampard and David Villa.

Salt Lake used the opportunity to move Carlos Salcedo to the protected list, something that somewhat surprised Goal's Ives Galarcep:

New York City also made an intriguing selection with its second pick, going after the New England Revolution's Patrick Mullins. The talented youngster looked very solid throughout the MLS playoffs, and ITV's Kristan Heneage loved the selection:

Orlando added Lewis Neal, who became somewhat of a fan favorite during his one season with Orlando City of the USL Pro. Galarcep wasn't a huge fan of the selection but understood the mechanics behind the pick:

New England became the first team to be taken out of the draft after New York City selected forward Tony Taylor in the fifth round.

New York made the conscious choice of going after high-risk, high-reward type players, including several players who will come with some injury concerns. Galarcep didn't mind, however:

Grabavoy will be a big piece of the team's midfield moving forward, while Mullins has the potential to develop into a very good MLS contributor. Chris Wingert will also be returning home, a move that will no doubt sit well with the fans.

Orlando appears ready to attack the trade market with a bevy of young prospects, and while the selection of Ricketts will not excite the fans as much as someone like Grabavoy would, adding experience is never a bad thing. Houston's Mark Sherrod could turn into the steal of the draft after showing plenty of potential during his rookie season.

 

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2014 MLS Expansion Draft: Best Values Available for New York and Orlando
MLS News
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 05:59

On Wednesday, Major League Soccer's two expansion teams, New York City FC and Orlando City SC, will partake in MLS' expansion draft.

Each of the current 18 MLS teams were allowed to protect 11 players on their current roster with the remaining players on each team available for selection by either expansion team.

However, picking players in the expansion draft is not as easy as simply selecting the most talented players, as each of the new teams will have to abide by MLS' salary cap rules. The object of the draft is to pick the best players at the lowest price.

Using 2014 salary numbers provided by the MLS Players Union, and the average league salary by position (calculated last season by Liviu Bird for the blog Sounder at Heart), here are the best values available in Wednesday's draft.

 

Defenders

Looking at back-line players, there are several good choices available. The 2013 league average for defenders was $110,000.

One of the most appealing, despite his above-average $165,000-per-year salary, is the Houston Dynamo's Corey Ashe.

Ashe is an experienced and talented defender, who helped the Dynamo win three conference championships. However, since the arrival of DaMarcus Beasley, Ashe has become surplus to requirements in Houston.

Ashe is also a left-back, not an easy roster position to fill. At 28 years old, he should still have a number of good years left in him and would be a good building block for either expansion team.

Another good option is center-back Austin Berry. While Berry didn't have a spectacular 2014, only starting six games for the Philadelphia Union, he was a regular in 2012 and 2013 with the Chicago Fire and won league Rookie of the Year honors in 2012.

Berry is only 26 years old and, at a yearly salary of only $87,000, could be a steal for either team willing to take a shot on him.

Finally, there is LA Galaxy defender Dan Gargan. While Gargan is an MLS journeyman, and 31 years old, he won many admirers this season while earning 29 starts for the league champions. Best of all, his yearly contract will only cost whichever team selects him $48,500 per year.

 

Midfielders

There aren't any slam-dunk choices in the midfielder pool, but there are a number of players Orlando and New York should take a long look at.

Dominic Oduro made his name as a striker, and is a bit overpriced at $250,000 (compared to the 2013 league average of $128,000 for midfielders), but Toronto FC proved this year that he can be used very effectively as a winger.

New York and Orlando have both already signed high-profile attacking midfielders who would be able to get Oduro the ball in wide spaces. In those spaces, Oduro's pace makes him a nightmare to defend against.

Another interesting choice would be the New England Revolution's Steve Neumann. Neumann played 23 games for the Revs in his rookie campaign (although only three of them were starts). He came into the league this spring as a highly touted college player and, given the room and time to grow—he is only 23 years old—he could be a great long-term pickup for either expansion squad. Best of all, his $65,000-per-year salary puts him well below the league average.

Also available is the Philadelphia Union's Danny Cruz. Cruz isn't a household name, but he has a ferocious work rate on the pitch and is a true competitor. He played 26 games for the Philadelphia Union this season, is only 24 years old and has a current salary of $125,000 per year—just below the league average.

 

Forwards

The pickings are slim at forward, especially when it comes to value.

The best choice available is Revolution forward Patrick Mullins. Mullins played 24 games for the Eastern Conference champions this year, starting 14. Best of all, he's only 22 years old and has a low salary at $70,000 per year (the 2013 league average for forwards was $220,000). He tallied four goals in his rookie campaign in 2014 and, given the right opportunity, could flourish.

Another option at forward is Gaston Fernandez. Fernandez—who can also play as an attacking midfielder—scored seven goals for the Portland Timbers in 2014. His salary, at $150,000 per year is very favorable, even if his age, 31, is not.

Orlando and New York could also take a shot at a couple of high-risk/high-reward choices. D.C. United's Eddie Johnson was left unprotected. He's expensive, at $505,000 per year, especially for a player who only scored seven goals in 2014. However, everyone knows EJ is capable of much more, as he scored 15 goals just two years ago in 2012.

The New York Red Bulls also left Peguy Luyindula and Tim Cahill unprotected. Luyindula is 35 years old, but did score eight goals in 2014. He's also a value at $90,000 per year.

Cahill isn't a value at $3.5 million per year, but he is a big name and capable of playing a number of positions. It would also not be a surprise if he's eager to get away from the Red Bulls after being benched late in the 2014 season.

 

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Ranking the 5 Best Midfielders from the 2014 MLS Season
MLS News
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 00:50

After taking a look at the top forwards from the 2014 Major League Soccer season on Tuesday, we shift our attention to the league's best midfielders. 

Most of the star midfielders this season turned in impressive attacking displays week after week, but there were a few players who turned games around with their defensive qualities as well. 

Two of the midfielders ranked in the top five left the league on a high note after announcing they would not return to their respective clubs in 2015. 

Here's a look at the five best midfielders from the 2014 MLS season. 

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LA Galaxy Make Landon Donovan Tribute Video to Mark Retirement After MLS Cup Win
MLS News
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 06:22

Landon Donovan retired a champion after winning the MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy on Sunday, and the club has marked the occasion with a tribute video.

"This is the end of an era," the video begins, and it charts a great career, which saw him join the Galaxy in 2005.

As the MLS champions won their fifth title, it actually marked Donovan's sixth (he picked up two with the San Jose Earthquakes before winning four with LA Galaxy).

A fine way to bow out, and a fine video to pay some respect to the best American player of his generation.

[YouTube, LA Galaxy]

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MLS Expansion Draft 2014: Date, Start Time, Format, Rules and Schedule
MLS News
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 01:00

The MLS will have its first expansion draft since the 2011 season on Wednesday, December 10, with Orlando City SC and New York City FC each having 10 selections to help build their rosters ahead of the 2015 campaign.

The rules for this year's draft don't deviate much from the previous ones, but they remain relatively complicated nonetheless. In this article, we'll provide a layout of the draft schedule and basic rules as provided by the MLS.

All rules are courtesy of the MLS and can be accessed by clicking here.

 

Date and Start Time

The draft will take place on Wednesday, December 10 and starts at 2 p.m. ET.

 

Format and Schedule

Each team will have 10 selections and will alternate making picks. Orlando won the right to select first. As a result, the schedule looks simple:

Each of the existing 18 MLS clubs had to submit a list of 11 protected players by Friday, December 8, and the MLS is expected to make the list public before the start of the draft, via Opta's Ben Jata. At the time of writing, the list had not yet been made public:

Orlando and New York will make their 10 selections based on the list of unprotected players. Once one of the current MLS teams has lost two players to the draft, it's automatically eliminated from the rest of the draft.

 

Rules

Protected Players

Players on both the senior and supplemental rosters will have to be protected. Expiring contracts also count toward the team's roster.

Generation Adidas players who have yet to graduate and Homegrown players on the supplemental roster are automatically protected and don't count toward the list of 11 players.

The protection of international players is tricky. Teams have to protect a minimum of three international players unless they have three or fewer of those players on the roster. They may not make more players available than the total number of internationals they have minus three. This table shows the possibilities:

Any non-domestic U.S. player will count as an international player.

Designated Players are not automatically protected unless they have a no-trade clause in their contract. In that case, they will automatically take up one of the 11 slots on the list of protected players.

If a player is claimed from a club's non-protected roster, that club has the right to move one player to its protected roster.

 

Contracts

Orlando City and New York City have been given the right to renegotiate a player's contract once they've selected him without said player being placed on waivers or his former club receiving a first right of refusal.

 

Preview

The right to renegotiate contracts opens up an array of possibilities and only further complicates what will already be a number of difficult decisions. New York head coach Jason Kreis confirmed the process isn't quite straightforward, via the club's official Twitter feed:

While logic would point toward youngsters being the popular choice for high picks, we've seen teams like Vancouver Whitecaps FC build almost instant playoff contenders through the draft.

Veteran players with experience often come with big contracts—but star power attracts fans, something new teams always need, and contracts can always be renegotiated.

Expect to see a nice mix of young and veteran talent to be selected on Wednesday, with the top picks being perhaps a bit older than you might expect.

 

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