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Au Revoir? Intriguing Expansion Draft Options

Undoubtedly, expansion is an exciting time for MLS fans, as it allows them to see and experience a “new” market, a new potential rival, and the possibility of the next great soccer city.  With the success of recent expansion clubs in Philly, Portland, and Vancouver (well, at least in the stands), the addition of the Montreal Impact fills MLS fans with anticipation: what will these sometimes French-speaking fans bring to the league?

However, the downside of every new team coming in is the inevitable expansion draft, which occurs right after the end of the MLS Cup.  That backup young forward you think could be a wild card in your team’s playoff run, or that wily veteran who can spot start and save the day? That fan favorite could be gone simply because the Impact need more high-level talent.  While the rules on who can and cannot be protected are somewhat confusing (see the actual rules here), basically every team submits to the league a list of eleven players they want to protect in the draft.  Home grown and Generation Adidas players are generally exempt from the draft.  Everyone else is fair game, and Montreal gets ten picks from those lists, with only one player allowed to be taken from a team.

So who are some intriguing possibilities that Montreal could pick up next Wednesday?  Below are a list of players that the Impact could potentially pick to make, well, an impact in 2012 and beyond.  This is not a prediction post, but simply a list of possibilities that may be available.  Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!

In no particular order:

Austin de Luz (DC): The young midfielder was the second steal for DC from New York this year; while not a consistent contributor he showed some flashes of skill and the potential to be a good contributor down the road.  But, due to a numbers crunch, he will probably be left unprotected by DC on Monday.  A potentially good upside pick for Montreal.

Brad Evans (Seattle): Drew Epperly has a good breakdown of the Seattle protected list dilemma, and how it depends on Alvaro Fernandez’s contract.  If Evans is left unprotected, it will be because of his salary (about $130k).  He would be a really good pick for Montreal and would provide an immediate talent upgrade in the midfield.

Anthony Wallace (Colorado): I’d be willing to wager a player is taken off the Colorado unprotected list for the simple reason that pretty much all of their roster has played decent minutes this year due to their injuries and multiple competitions.  Wallace would be the one I suspect would catch Montreal’s eye.  He’s talented, young, and would be a great pick-up if available.

Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls): Could McCarty be selected in back-to-back expansion drafts?  He’s a bit pricey (salary over $150k) but he’s undeniably talented and could anchor a midfield.  New York will probably leave him exposed to Montreal, and if the Impact want an experienced midfielder looking for a new home, he’ll be there.

Michael Harrington (Kansas City): Another pricey option who has spent some time on the trainer’s table this past season, but if he’s left exposed he should be scooped up quickly.  Like Wallace he’s a fullback but unlike Wallace his career is at a bit of a crossroads.  He was an off-and-on again starter for KC and a new location would allow him to potentially show off his full potential.

Cam Weaver (Houston): Another familiar name for many MLS fan and another injury risk that Montreal may want to add for a veteran presence.  While this “pick” could also end of being Brian Ching, I think Weaver could be left hanging and would be a tempting pick-up for Montreal.

Donovan Ricketts (Los Angeles): It’s very simple – if Montreal wants a veteran keeper through the draft, he’ll likely be the best one available.  While Ricketts and Josh Saunders were kind of interchangeable this year, Ricketts is a respected international with both European and American club experience.

Justin Mapp (Philadelphia): I’m repeating myself a bit at this point, but Mapp was such a good player for Chicago and has been an ok player for Philly, you have to wonder if Montreal would want to give him a chance to try to see if he can be that Chicago Fire version of himself.