The MLS expansion draft will be held on Wednesday and the Fire’s list of protected players includes a surprise or two. The team has elected to protect both Mike Banner and Calen Carr while making two designated players and this year’s opening day goalkeeper available for selection by either Vancouver or Portland.
The Fire’s protected list includes:
Unprotected: Castillo, Dykstra, John, Krol, Ljungberg, Lowry, Robinson, Thorrington, Umanzor
With the thought that both expansion teams would be looking for younger, inexpensive options to fill out their initial rosters one can understand the desire to protect both Banner and Carr while leaving expensive options such as Castillo and Ljungberg exposed. Castillo would certainly not be selected due to his salary and performance while Ljungberg could be an attractive option if either the Whitecaps or Timbers decide they really want to stoke the flames of an immediate rivalry with Seattle. The Fire is gambling that Ljungberg’s various options and possible overseas contract offers is sufficient to scare away the two MLS expansion sides while continuing to negotiate a new deal with the former Arsenal man.
I would have rated Lowry, Robinson, and Dykstra ahead of both Carr and Banner. Lowry has had some success, is young and inexpensive and could be a player that is lost this Wednesday. Robinson’s injury concerns could be enough to keep him in red next season and the Fire may be in the market for a more experienced veteran back up to support Sean Johnson thereby making Dykstra available. I wonder if San Jose’s goalkeeper can be signed?
The remainder of the names on the unprotected list should come as little surprise to anyone as both John Thorrington and Collins John both have health issues and hefty salaries making them unattractive options for an expansion team. The Fire also explored some options in the trade market but nothing materialized.
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