Today at 3 PM (EST), the Montreal Impact will make ten selections from a pool of over two hundred "unprotected" MLS players, and despite the abundance of options available it is possible that the New York Red Bulls could lose someone to the 2011 Expansion Draft. Head coach Jesse Marsch is weighing his options and gave a bit of insight into who he's considering to the Montreal Gazette: "Some are young guys who have been reserves or in different situations around the league, and some are veteran guys who have established themselves, but who are looking for something new..."
Looking back at the 2010 expansion draft for Portland and Vancouver, players they took fell into distinct categories of trade bait/mls rules navigating (Dax McCarty, Robbie Findley, Jonathan Bornstein), useful players, affordable young prospects, and roster fillers. Building a team with 30 players under a low salary cap is no easy task, so don't expect Montreal to select any players with six figure salaries unless they are confident they will contribute to the team or are valuable trade commodities. It should be noted, however, that salaries don't just carry over but new contracts are often negotiated between an expansion team and the selected players. Also, MLS roster regulations require that Montreal have at least three Canadian players and allow grant only eight international spots, which doesn't include U.S. players.
Earlier this week, Once a Metro laid out some of the basics of the Expansion Draft as well as a list of all New York players that will be available for Montreal to select from. Who might Montreal actually choose from New York's pool of unprotected players?
Tyler Lassiter - Deemed "the next Tim Ream" entering the 2011 season, Lassiter did not get much of a chance with New York but played while on loan to the NASL Carolina Railhawks. Montreal actually had a chance to see Lassiter in action back in September when he went ninety minutes in a 1-0 loss for Carolina against the Impact. His $30,000 salary could make the New York defender a prime target.
Carlos Mendes - The exact opposite of Lassiter, Mendes is an MLS veteran centerback and versatile in covering different positions along the backline when needed. Can start or is still a valuable squad member coming off of the bench, but is a bit expensive for the latter option.
Greg Sutton - Relatively low salary requirements, Canadian, and has a relatively extensive history with the Impact.
Stranger Things Have Happened:
Bouna Coundoul - Any "Bouna time" in Montreal would be short lived, as Montreal is unlikely to take Coundoul except to trade him to another MLS team.
Alex Horwath - A young and inexpensive goalkeeper who showed promise in his limited time with New York, but why select a third string goalkeeper in an expansion draft?
Stephane Auvray - Has shown more talent playing for Guadeloupe than he ever did with Sporting Kansas City or the New York Red Bulls, and Auvray is a bit on the pricey side if Montreal does not see him as a major contributor to the team.
John Rooney - By the end of the 2011 season, Rooney was not even making Hans Backe's bench. Montreal would only take Rooney if they saw him as an affordable long-term project and addition.
Chris Albright - A veteran defender with another year or two left in the tank if he can stay injury free, which is a major if.
Expect a Rough First Season In Montreal If They Take:
Mehdi Ballouchy - Visa issues kept Ballouchy from even traveling with the Red Bulls to Canada to face Toronto or Vancouver. Not a likely pick.
Brian Nielsen - Injured for the majority of the last two seasons and would be a considerable hit against Montreal's salary cap.
Frank Rost - Too expensive and almost certainly headed back to Germany after his brief stint in MLS.
Carl Robinson - A prime candidate to retire and join the Red Bulls coaching staff.
Marcos Paullo - An overpriced reserve player who does not have enough upside for Montreal to take in the expansion draft.
Which player might New York lose the rights to this afternoon? We will be following along here and will have post-draft reaction up shortly after Montreal makes their last pick.