MLS clubs were required to submit the names of eleven players that each team would protect from selection by New York City FC and Orland City SC ahead of this Wednesday's expansion draft. The Fire's protected list includes a few minor surprises in Juan Luis Anangono and Robert Earnshaw. Because clubs are required to "protect" a certain number of internationals (total number minus three) both Anangono and Earnshaw were added to the list although neither is expected to return next season. In Anagono's case, he has had some success on loan at LDU Quito and the Fire may be able to move him to an interested club in South America this January.
Among the other nine names protected by the Fire there aren't many surprises. Alex's option was not picked up and the Fire are looking to bring him back at a lower rate than his 2014 salary so his inclusion may be considered another small upset. He also no longer qualifies as an international since he received a green card last June. Quincy Amarikwa, Razvan Cocis (the third international), Sean Johnson, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko, Lovel Palmer, and Matt Watson are the others on the safe list.
Homegrown players Harry Shipp, Chris Ritter, and Victor Pineda are also exempt from selection although Pineda is out of contract.
The list of players available to the two expansion teams on Wednesday are:
In Cochrane's case the Fire did pick up his option but left him unprotected for the expansion draft. It's also still possible that Ward could be back although his loan deal has expired and he has returned to Tottenham.
Here's the complete list of players available for NYCFC and Orlando on Wednesday. Clubs can remove one player from the list once one of their players is selected. Teams can only lose a maximum of two players on Wednesday. It should also be noted that this list is only the names of players available in the expansion draft and not necessarily the list of players that will be available via the Re-Entry draft.
In other news, the official signing of former Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens is expected soon. Stephens spent the last season with Bob Bradley's Stabaek.