The Quakes are back in MLS and that means Expansion Draft Fever is sweeping the nation (it's sort of like Cat Scratch Fever with a little less frizz).
Expansion drafts have all the charm of a reality show ("Who gets to remain on the island?") combined with the nervous hand-wringing, wailing, bemoaning of fate, and god-delusional fan behavior that we all know and love. Never being one to miss out on the insanity, it's time for the Fullback Files to vote some folks off the United island. Without further ado, I present, in no particular order, my Protected Eleven.
- Burch - He's young, cheap, a revelation in the second half of the season, and one of the few bright spots in a back line of sometimes questionable quality. Burch from distance!
- BobbyBoswell.com/over-rated - So Boz didn't have the greatest of seasons this year. That said, he's a former MLS Defender of the Year, he's still cheap, and if he's not showing signs of wanting to stay, you can use him as trade bait. If he can put the distractions aside and focus on being a soccer player again, he's worth hanging on to.
- Fred - Sure, I wasn't terribly impressed with some of his passing and decision making this year, but he's still a quality player with the potential to really turn it on as he adapts to MLS. Hell, would you rather protect Fred or Mediate as a wide midfielder? Hmm, tough choice.
- Emiligol - Duh! You don't ditch the Golden Boot winner. He'll probably struggle a bit more in his second season as defenses get his measure and there are rumblings that he may be looking for a dramatic payday elsewhere, but that's allocation money in the United bank. Don't expose the gems!
- Gomez - He's one of the best in the league, and probably worth out DP spot, if that becomes a necessity. Even if he wants out, see the allocation money and gem-exposing scenarios discussed above. One thing is for certain--if you leave him exposed, Yallop won't hesitate.
- McTavish - Young, cheap, versatile enough to play in about half the positions on the pitch, and has a great upside--what's not to like?
- The Godfather of Goals - Maybe some controversy here as we don't even know if Jaime will be back next year. But while he may be slowing down in the goal production department, he makes us a different--and better--team when he's on the field.
- Namoff - Another whose decision-making down the stretch was more than suspect, but he's still one of the better quality wide defenders--fullbacks if you will ;-)--in MLS and isn't exactly breaking the bank either.
- The Bearded Bombardier - Why don't you just rip my heart out and hold it in front of my face, still pumping and spurting its Black-and-Red gore? Go ahead, do it!
- Perkins - He may not be the best keeper in MLS, but he's certainly in the top five and is generally reliable when called upon. Regardless of the myth of the Bottomless Well of American Super-Keepers, when you've got a good one, you stick with him.
- Simms - The man who makes Brian "Captain Argyle" Carroll expendable. Simms came into his own this year and is showing all the signs of becoming a top holding/defensive midfielder in this league.
Brian Carroll is also given the chance to fly free. He's solid midfield depth, but Simms has taken his starting job and Arguez should be ready to start picking up some minutes for the senior squad next year. Of course, much depends on the Veron rumors and the possible formation shifts that that acquisition would imply.
Rod Dyachenko has shown quality in fits and starts, but nothing consistent. Has it been enough to deserve the senior roster spot that he'll require next season? I suppose some of that depends on what happens to Gomez and Moreno in the off-season. If they're both heading for the exit, Dyachecko suddenly becomes more valuable.
Sadly, Josh Gros looks to be hanging up the boots . . . and cast . . . and headgear. Would San Jose take a flier on a player that might retire before the start of next season? Doubtful. And while Mediate played some big minutes in place of Gros, I just don't think that he's valuable enough to protect. Kpene and Addlery are also in a similar boat. That about wraps it up so have at me. What do you disagree with? Who are the eleven hanging out in your shelter?