The MLS Expansion Draft for new team Charlotte FC is tonight at 7 pm EST. At that time, Charlotte will be able to pick five unprotected players from 22 MLS teams. The Philadelphia Union is one of those teams, and like the 21 others released their protected/unprotected lists on Monday afternoon. Now that we know who is on the Union’s unprotected list, could the Union lose key depth pieces to Charlotte tonight?
The Union protected the following 12 players from selection in the Charlotte FC expansion draft:
- Andre Blake
- Kai Wagner
- Jack Elliot
- Jakob Glesnes
- Oliver Mbaizo
- Jose Martinez
- Leon Flach
- Jamiro Monteiro
- Alejandro Bedoya
- Daniel Gazdag
- Sergio Santos
- Kacper Przybylko
This is essentially the Union’s starting XI from 2021 plus Sergio Santos. Luckily for Philly, no homegrowns have to be added to a protected list as they are exempt from these expansion drafts. This is a good promotion of Philly’s roster build as they have 11 homegrowns on their roster!
Yesterday, our own Doop by the River gang excluded Sergio Santos from their protected list and added Jesus Bueno as a key depth piece and a possible replacement should a member of the midfield be transferred out. The Union instead added Sergio Santos as he is the team’s only real high-pace player in the attack. Because this list of protected players is mostly starters, it means that key-depth players will be left unprotected and Charlotte could pick them.
Could Union lose depth?
Since the Union could protect 12 players and had 11 homegrowns exempt from this expansion draft, Philly left 10 of their players from their 2021 roster unprotected. Here are the 11 players that Charlotte could pick:
- Matheus Davo
- Joe Bendik
- Jesus Bueno
- Cory Burke
- Aurelien Collin
- Stuart Findlay
- Matej Oravec
- Gino Portella (Union II defender)
- Alvas Powell
Of course, the first thing that fans pointed out when this list dropped was, “why are there players out of contract on this list?” This is because all rostered 2021 players need to be included when picking protected/unprotected players for an MLS Expansion Draft. This is why Davo, Collin, Ilsinho, and Powell are available for selection.
Another question asked when this came out is”who the hell is Gino Portella?” Portella is a Union II center back/left-back. His inclusion on the list could be the sign of a first-team contract offer, or that MLS makes teams add supplemental team players on their lists as well. Either way, I don’t think Charlotte will take this young player, but he is out there for Charlotte to have a look.
Okay, now on to what many Union fans are concerned about, the addition of Jesus Bueno and Stuart Findlay on this list. Both Bueno and Findlay were brought in in 2021 to be a part of this club’s future. They didn’t start much, if at all in 2021, but are important depth pieces that could rise up and play a role down the line. Charlotte could pick either of these players and have a stud to build their team around; however, there is something to consider about these good players.
Bueno and Findlay have a combined 12 MLS appearances. Will Charlotte want to take a chance on “unproven” MLS players when the 21 other teams to pick from have sure things in MLS?
Charlotte are spoiled for choice
With the growth of MLS, comes the more important players on benches across the league. This makes it a whole lot harder to protect every influential player on a roster from an expansion draft. Looking at newly crowned MLS Cup Champions NYCFC, they left their star winger, Jesus Medina, and experienced number 10 Maxi Moralez unprotected. Atlanta left midfield workhorse Emerson Hyndman unprotected. Charlotte will see these types of players and probably want to take them instead of any Union player, and the reason stems from Charlotte’s roster build.
Charlotte has built a roster so far that is mainly international players. They need MLS veterans who know the league and can lead a team in their first season. Usually, expansion teams look for an experienced MLS player who can captain their side in their first season. Will this happen for Charlotte, there are so many players to choose from and they can only take five. Looking at Charlotte’s roster, they do need defenders and players that know MLS. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get both from a team that put a veteran defender who can still ball on their unprotected list.
MLS’ expansion draft for Charlotte 7 pm EST
As a Union fan, you shouldn’t be too worried about the expansion draft, even with good bench options like Bueno and Findlay available. Charlotte will likely look for MLS experience, and the best available talent domestic to add to their team. With only five picks, it would be a huge statement if Charlotte took a Union depth player who is internationals to build their team around!
The draft is tonight at 7 pm EST. I’m sure it’ll be streamed on MLS’ various social media platforms, and there’s always the possibility of it starting late. Don’t miss the action, to witness if Charlotte will do the improbable and take a Union player.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych