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New York Red Bulls reveal players protected from MLS 2016 Expansion Draft

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The Uniteds of Atlanta and Minnesota can't have Mike Grella or Gonzalo Veron, but they might be interested in one or two of the players RBNY has been forced to leave exposed to the Expansion Draft.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The first and most important thing to note about the MLS Expansion Draft is that the selecting teams - the Uniteds of Atlanta and Minnesota - can only pick five players each, and no existing MLS roster can give up more than one player.

So only one name can be potentially be lost from the list of players the New York Red Bulls is offering as tribute to the league's relentless growth. Still, RBNY has put together a pretty good squad and it was only able to protect 11 players, plus the six automatically protected by the league's gracious decision to permit Homegrown Players an exemption from the expansion grab-bag. The Red Bulls have left some useful options open to either Atlanta or Minnesota.

Per RBNY's official release, here are the players who won't be available for the 2016 Expansion Draft:

RBNY Players Protected from 2016 Expansion Draft

Goalkeepers: Ryan Meara, Luis Robles

Defenders: Aurelien Collin, Kemar Lawrence

Midfielders: Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, Mike Grella, Daniel Royer

Forwards: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gonzalo Veron

Homegrown Players: Tyler Adams, Brandon Allen, Sean Davis, Derrick Etienne, Alex Muyl, Connor Lade

Of that group, perhaps the most surprising name on the list is Aurelien Collin - since he remains out of contract. From this we might reasonably deduce that negotiations for the center-back's return to RBNY are ongoing, and the club is in no mood to see them disrupted by an opportunistic expansion team.

The list of players Atlanta and Minnesota can choose from is, effectively, everyone else who was technically on RBNY's roster at the end of the 2016 season:

RBNY Players Available to 2016 Expansion Draft

Goalkeeper: Kyle Reynish

Defenders: Gideon Baah, Justin Bilyeu, Chris Duvall, Aaron Long, Karl Ouimette, Damien Perrinelle, Sal Zizzo, Ronald Zubar

Midfielders: Shaun Wright-Phillips

Forwards: Anatole Abang, Omer Damari

Of that list, perhaps the biggest surprise is the decision to expose Gideon Baah. The center-back was only signed by RBNY in 2016, and arrived at the club with significant accomplishments to his name: league and cup titles in both Ghana and Finland, and the Finnish top-flight's 2013 Defender and Rookie of the Year honors. The Red Bulls reportedly signed him for a fee from HJK Helsinki, and now risk losing their investment to Atlanta or Minnesota.

But Atlanta and Minnesota might be aware that Baah is currently recovering from the second major leg injury of his career. His 2016 guaranteed compensation was, reportedly, in excess of $300,000. RBNY might be willing to gamble that Baah isn't a sufficiently proven player in MLS to tempt either expansion club to waste one of its selections and a big chunk of its salary cap.

There are certainly other players exposed to the Expansion Draft whose selection would leave RBNY with significant roster-work to do: either Sal Zizzo or Chris Duvall, if selected, would ensure the Red Bulls need to find a right back this off-season. But if Baah is taken, it might leave RBNY in the somewhat embarrassing situation of having no specialist center-backs under contract for 2017 - at least until ongoing negotiations with Aurelien Collin or Ronald Zubar reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The Expansion Draft will take place at 2:00 pm, Eastern, on Tuesday, December 13.