It took more than an hour's delay but it finally happened. Earlier this afternoon the Vancouver Whitecaps announced their list of protected and unprotected players for the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft that will see the Montreal Impact pick the fringes of their new team.
Protected: DF Jay DeMerit, DF Jordan Harvey, DF Carlyle Mitchell, DF Alain Rochat, MF Davide Chiumiento, MF Gershon Koffie, MF Shea Salinas, MF/FW Atiba Harris, MF/FW Long Tan, FW Eric Hassli, FW Camilo Sanvezzo
Protected Automatically (Homegrown/Generation Adidas): GK Brian Sylvestre, MF Bryce Alderson, MF Philippe Davies, MF Nizar Khalfan, MF Michael Nanchoff, MF Russell Teibert, FW Omar Salgado
Unprotected: GK Joe Cannon, GK Jay Nolly, DF Michael Boxall, DF Bilal Duckett, DF Greg Janicki, DF Jonathan Leathers, MF Jeb Brovsky, MF John Thorrington, MF Peter Vagenas, MF/FW Mustapha Jarju
There probably isn't a serious surprise on the list. Some of us will quibble with individual selections but I don't think there's a single player who will provoke outcry; not one who will cause fans to leap to their feet and say "wait, we're letting him go?" Fan favourites like Jay Nolly and Joe Cannon are being risked, but most fans understood their position. Likewise, while there are a few unprotected players like Jeb Brovsky and John Thorrington who showed some promise nobody is counting on them as part of their 2012 first eleven.
Besides, it's possible (likely, even) that the Impact won't select any Whitecaps players. The cast-offs of the worst team in MLS aren't likely to be popular when Montreal has teams like the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake to pick for plunder. In all likelihood this announcement is much ado over nothing for Whitecaps fans, although at least it shows what the organization thinks of a few of the players.
After the jump, a convenient sortable table of the Whitecaps roster with their expansion draft protection status as well as a bit of analysis.
|Pos||Player Name||2011 Base Salary||2011 Guaranteed Salary||Protection Status|
|GK||Sylvestre, Brian||$32,600.04||$32,600.04||Protected (HG)|
|MF||Alderson, Bryce||unknown||unknown||Protected (GA)|
|MF||Davies, Philippe||$32,600.00||$32,600.00||Protected (HG)|
|MF||Khalfan, Nizar||$60,000.00||$61,250.00||Protected (HG)|
|MF||Nanchoff, Michael||$60,000.00||$95,000.00||Protected (GA)|
|MF||Teibert, Russell||$50,004.00||$55,604.00||Protected (GA)|
|FW||Salgado, Omar||$80,000.00||$121,868.67||Protected (GA)|
It becomes instantly clear that the Whitecaps are planning to do quite a remodeling on their defense. Only one of three goalkeepers, Brian Sylvestre, is protected: he's protected automatically as a homegrown player and has played zero career minutes of MLS action. Defensive lynchpins Alain Rochat and Jay DeMerit remain as does promising newbie Carlyle Mitchell, but the rest are being left to sink or swim. Even though Cannon, Nolly, Leathers, Duckett, Boxall, and Janicki will certainly survive the expansion draft as Whitecaps, it certainly indicates where the team thinks it has a weakness.
Of course, given Joe Cannon's untouchable contract it may just be that the Whitecaps know he won't be taken and thus want to keep his protected slot available. There are only a few defensive players I expect to see gone by next season: Duckett and Janicki, certainly, probably Nolly... but Cannon might hang on.
It's all interesting to see those players who got opportunities late in the season and passed or failed their tests. Being protected has to be considered a victory for Long Tan, who languished in relative obscurity until the last month of the year, made himself a cult favourite, and is now considered worth keeping. Likewise, Carlyle Mitchell apparently passed his audition and the team must still see something in Shea Salinas. Jeb Brovsky, on the other hand, might have been hamstrung by his awful turn at right back; on his form in the first half of the season he certainly would have edged out Salinas. A month into the season, Boxall's being unprotected was inconceivable and now here we are.
The availability of Mustapha Jarju will draw headlines but I'm not putting his Whitecaps career in the grave yet. The Impact are almost certain not to pick Jarju: if they want a high-priced big name there are choices like Omar Bravo and Freddy Adu available. It's smart asset management even if you want to keep Jarju: he's probably the safest guy in the expansion draft but the Impact might have considered grabbing a cheap youngster with promise like Tan or Mitchell had they been available.
This list is also a tribute to the value of the MLS Expansion Draft. Two players, Omar Salgado and Michael Nanchoff, are automatically protected: if Nanchoff wasn't an automatic there's no chance he wouldn't have been exposed. The remaining players from that draft are all available: Brovsky, Boxall, Duckett, if Nick de Santis wants them they're his at no cost. This isn't a terribly uncommon thing; most of the other MLS availability lists follow the same pattern. SuperDraft!
This Whitecaps list isn't surprising and probably isn't relevant. At least it's interesting.