The Vancouver Whitecaps have revealed the 11 players protected from the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft, and while there are no real surprises on the list, a few useful roster players from 2014 will be available for New York City FC and Orlando City SC to select.
The Whitecaps chose to protect:
Pedro Morales. No question here, the Whitecaps best offensive player and reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year was never going to be left available for those vultures to pêck at. The Captain absolutely needed to be protected.
Kendall Waston. Another no-brainer. Waston is the physical, imposing center back the Whitecaps sorely missed when Jay Demerit was injured, and then re-tired. Again, there was no way he was being left unprotected.
Matias Laba. The best defensive player on the Whitecaps, and a neck-in-neck competitor for best player on the 'Caps with Pedro Morales, the 23 year old (on December 11th) Laba is an essential part of the Whitecaps roster.
Gershon Koffie. Another obvious one, although it does cloud the future for Russell Teibert, does it not? If Koffie had been healthy this year, how many minutes would Teibert have played? In any case, Koffie is coming back.
David Ousted. Ousted has grown into one of the best keepers in MLS, and the Whitecaps were smart to protect him. You might disagree with his salary, but you can't disagree with his 2014 stats, which include a league leading 13 clean sheets.
Kekuta Manneh. Manneh is one of the Whitecaps best prospects, so it's clear that he was going to be protected.
Steven Beitashour. Beitashour was my pick for the Whitecaps best player on the backline this season, given that Kendall Waston didn't come close to playing a full MLS season. Beitashour provided steady, reliable defending while pushing the ball up the pitch well. A great replacement for YP Lee, and a smart move to protect him.
Darren Mattocks. As a previous Luke Wileman article stated, just because the Whitecaps are protecting Mattocks doesn't necessarily mean he won't be traded away. He's got value, so it makes sense to keep him around.
Erik Hurtado. A young player with great energy and a knack for scoring pretty goals, Hurtado is worth protecting, even if the club explores putting him in the trade market. I like him as a depth option for 2015 if he does stick around.
Jordan Harvey. The status of the veteran defensive back was in doubt given the young players waiting in the wings, but the 'Caps clearly enjoy the offensive upside Harvey brings to his position.
Johnny Leveron. Surprising, given the club declined his contract earlier today. That means the club must be close to re-signing him to some sort of deal.
The Whitecaps also have several home-grown players who are exempt from the draft.
- Sam Adekugbe
- Marco Bustos
- Marco Carducci
- Caleb Clarke
- Kianz Froese
- Ethen Sampson
- Russell Teibert
- Mehdi Ballouchy
- Mamadou Diouf
- Sebastian Fernandez
- Andre Lewis
- Nicolas Mezquida
- Carlyle Mitchell
- Andy O'Brien
- Mauro Rosales
- Paolo Tornaghi