Two new clubs will join Major League Soccer in 2017, with Minnesota United moving from the NASL and the brand-new Atlanta United FC coming on board. The MLS Expansion Draft is scheduled for December 13th, only three days after MLS Cup 2016 is played.
New York Red Bulls Projected Expansion Draft Protected List
Each club is able to protect 11 players and the New York Red Bulls will want to make careful selections ahead of the draft. Homegrown players are exempt, automatically protecting players like Alex Muyl, Connor Lade and Sean Davis from leaving the roster.
Minnesota and Atlanta will make five selections each, with existing teams only losing one player at a maximum. With these rules in place, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch knows that the draft will not see several players on the move.
However, losing a key player ahead of 2017 would not be an ideal way to start the off-season.
With this in mind, we take a look at a projected list of the 11 players New York should protect.
GK – Luis Robles
The Red Bulls’ ironman and one of the most talented goalkeepers in MLS. New York certainly must protect Luis Robles, as either expansion side would jump at the chance to sign him.
CB – Aurelien Collin
An interesting case here. With Aurelien Collin’s contract expiring, the Red Bulls’ front office is already focused on re-signing the talented defender. The signing process with New York would crumble if he is chosen by Atlanta or former head coach Adrien Heath in Minnesota.
While 2017 is still uncertain for Collin, the Red Bulls will want to keep their best center-back in the squad.
CB – Damien Perrinelle
Injuries cut into much of Damien Perrinelle’s 2016 season, but once healthy the French center-back was an integral part of New York’s backline.
CB – Gideon Baah
New York saw flashes from 25-year old defender Gideon Baah in 2016 before he was sidelined with injury, even adding two goals along with his strong defensive work.
Expectations will be high for Baah in 2017.
LB – Kemar Lawrence
Kemar Lawrence experienced a down year after a spectacular 2015, but the Jamaican international’s ability to get forward and provide service into the box is indispensable for New York.
MF – Gonzalo Veron
A frustrating year for Gonzalo Veron was filled with injuries early in the season and difficulties finding adequate playing time.
2017 is a massive year for the Argentine’s career in New York.
MF – Felipe Martins
Felipe Martins displayed incredible stamina during 2016 in his defensive midfield role, rarely missing action and covering acres of space throughout matches.
MF – Dax McCarty
Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty has stepped up tremendously in his leadership role and is the engine of the squad.
Injuries did creep up on McCarty in 2016, missing seven league games due to injury.
MF – Daniel Royer
Daniel Royer’s summer signing looked to be an excellent addition ahead of the postseason, until hamstring injuries cut into his playing time late in the campaign.
His pace on the wing and a memorable match-winner against the Montreal Impact displayed his goal-scoring potential.
MF – Sacha Kljestan
2016 MLS assist leader Sacha Kljestan will most certainly not be leaving Red Bull Arena anytime soon. The creative focal point of the offense had a fantastic season in Harrison.
FW – Bradley Wright-Phillips
The all-time franchise leader in goals, Bradley Wright-Phillips continued to shine in 2016. The English striker’s 24 goals brought him the league’s Golden Boot.
Due to the Expansion Draft rules that are in place, there is ultimately a chance that the Red Bulls do not lose any of their current squad.
However, players like Mike Grella, Sal Zizzo and Chris Duvall may be tempting to either Minnesota or Atlanta management on December 13th.