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Vancouver Whitecaps may be (unofficially) excused from the 2018 Expansion Draft

The New York Red Bulls will have noted the implications of one particular trade made in the half-day MLS trade window preceding the 2018 Expansion Draft.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-FC Cincinnati vs Minnesota United Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

MLS allowed a half-day trade window on December 9, essentially permitting teams to make some last-minute roster adjustments ahead of the Expansion Draft - which will arrive on December 11.

Perhaps the most notable trade announced on the day was FC Dallas’ decision to send Maxi Urruti to Montreal Impact for not very much at all: $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and the 10th overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. FCD revealed another clause in the trade agreement that perhaps better illustrated the club’s thinking in allowing a highly-rated forward to slip away for seemingly very little return:

FC Dallas will also retain 50 percent of any transfer value on Maxi outside of MLS before the first game of the 2019 season with additional future considerations beyond that.

If FCD suspects or knows Urruti wants out of MLS, making that transfer Montreal’s business while retaining an interest in any such deal is a neat trick for a club rumored to be focused on bringing through younger players in 2019.

The New York Red Bulls, in common with most teams around the league, did not participate in the December 9 trade window. But RBNY will have noted Vancouver Whitecaps’ activity on the day.

The ‘Caps were busy. The team picked up two goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau from Montreal in exchange for allocation money and a 2020 draft pick; Zac MacMath from Colorado Rapids in exchange for allocation money and midfielder Nicolas Mezquida. A third player - full-back Victor “PC” Giro - arrived from Orlando City, with Vancouver sending its third-round pick in the 2019 SuperDraft the other way.

It’s a rebuilding season for Vancouver under new head coach Marc Dos Santos. So no great surprise the team is actively reshaping its roster. But the eve of the Expansion Draft is perhaps a dangerous time to be making quite so many new additions: FC Cincinnati could potentially swoop in and unbalance the roster-building exercise on December 11.

The Caps would appear to have relieved themselves of Expansion Draft concerns with their fourth transaction of the half-day trade window: sending goalkeeper Spencer Richey to Cincy for a 2020 draft pick. If the deal also included an agreement that FCC would leave Vancouver’s roster alone in the Expansion Draft, that is a tidy piece of business for the Caps, who won the right to re-build their roster in peace for little more than a ‘keeper they hadn’t been using anyway (he spent 2018 on loan with Cincinnati in USL).

RBNY will have noted the transaction and noted that it probably reduces the number of teams FCC is effectively selecting from in the Expansion Draft. The five teams who lost players to LAFC in last year’s Expansion Draft - Seattle, Columbus, San Jose, Toronto, and Kansas City - are formally excluded from this year’s exercise. Vancouver very likely just got itself excused from the proceedings too.

FCC will pick five players from the rosters of the remaining 17 teams; perhaps fewer than that if other bargains have been struck in secret, which is not improbable.