With the 2019 Expansion Draft just days away, LAFC revealed its list of 12 protected players ahead of the selection process:
|Eduard Atuesta||Lamar Batista|
|Tristan Blackmon||Steven Beitashour|
|Latif Blessing||Mohamed El-Munir|
|Adama Diomande||Phillip Ejimadu|
|Mark-Anthony Kaye||Alejandro Guido|
|Pablo Sisniega||Jordan Harvey|
|Diego Palacios||Dejan Jakovic|
|Brian Rodriguez||Lee Nguyen|
|Diego Rossi||Adrien Perez|
|Eddie Segura||Javi Perez|
|Carlos Vela||Josh Perez|
|Walker Zimmerman||Danilo Silva|
Set to kick off in the 2020 season, Inter Miami and Nashville SC have five selections each in the Expansion Draft. The MLS debutants will select from the pool of unprotected players designated by the teams participating in this year's draft - D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, and Vancouver Whitecaps are exempt having had a player selected by FC Cincinnati in 2018.
On Friday, teams finalized and submitted protected lists to the league. MLS made those lists public on Saturday.
For the 2019 Expansion Draft (Nov. 19 at 2:30pm PT), MLS sides participating have been allotted one extra player than years prior to their protected lists. Despite the extra spot, teams have to make difficult decisions when compiling their lists of 12 players to protect.
Only Generation adidas and Homegrown Players are automatically protected and, therefore, don't count towards a team's protected quota. That means even Designated Players must be named to the list in order to be safe from selection. With that in mind, a quarter of LAFC's protected list goes to Designated Players Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Brian Rodríguez straight away.
Filling the remaining nine spots from the 24 players remaining on LAFC's roster requires a considerable amount of deliberation.
It might be easier if lists were comprised of simply the 12 best players on a roster regardless of age, salary, and contract status. But the Expansion Draft takes place prior to the start of player movement through free agency, waivers, and the re-entry process.
Teams have to weigh the option of protecting a player against the likelihood of that player being selected - it's why a player like Steven Beitashour, who can test free agency on Nov. 25 and would need to sign a new contract or be free to sign elsewhere if selected, is left unprotected as opposed to a player under contract for next season.
Considering how LAFC benefitted ahead of its inaugural season, the Expansion Draft is a "necessary evil" as John Thorrington succinctly put it in his "State of the Club" interview a little over a week ago. While the core of LAFC's side is protected and intact, the fixed number of protected slots was always going to result in the possibility of important players being left available for selection.
That's just the reality we'll need to get used to as MLS continues to expand in the years to come.