2009 MLS Expansion Draft Predictions

After correctly predicting a measly two of 10 in last year’s Expansion Draft Preview, we’re back again and hoping to improve on our record. This year’s it’s the Philadelphia Union’s turn.

On Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. PST, the Union will select 10 players to form the core of their new team. The rules are the same — each team may protect 11 players, excluding Generation Adidas members (of which the Sounders have none). A list of all unprotected players posted by the intrepid Jose Miguel Romero can be found here.

Last year, I paid little attention to the salary figures of the players, to my detriment. A list of 2009 player salaries, released by the Players Union, can be found here.

Without further ado, here is a photo of some hot soccer babes.

Brazil Fans

Chivas USA: Marcelo Saragosa (2009 Base Salary: $120k)

Every squad needs a solid defensive midfielder and Saragosa fits the bill here. The Brazilian has kicked the injury problems that threatened to derail his career, starting 15 games between FC Dallas and Chivas USA last season. The best man at his wedding was Kak√°.

Striker Chikwudi Chijindu would be a more frugal option.

Chicago Fire: Chris Rolfe ($95.5 k)

Mr. Rolfe, the young, talented attacker, is making nearly 100k/year. It’s a hefty figure, but as the salary budget is expected to increase dramatically in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (which is being worked out now), that could be less of a hit than in previous years.

Rolfe’s a creative, fast striker who managed six goals in 20 starts last season. The addition of Brian McBride displaced Rolfe to the bench more often than he would have hoped, but the 26-year old was still a key cog in the Fire’s 2009 campaign.

Liverpool Babe
BOOOIIIIOIOIOIOINNNNGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Columbus Crew: Frankie Hejduk ($150k)

Interestingly, the Crew left both marking backs uncovered (Hejduk and Gino Padula). Perhaps gambling on the Union not selecting Hejduk because of his hefty salary ($150k), the veteran would be an excellent tone-setter and leader in the Union locker room.

A possible Hejduk exit could be the first move in a massive shakeup in Ohio. Rumor has it the Crew’s two star players, Robbie Rogers and Guillermo Barros Schelotto, had a falling out with head coach Robert Warzycha. Cutting these two players loose, plus Hejduk, would leave Columbus with bushels of cash to “rebuild” the team that won the Supporter’s Shield for the second consecutive year.

Colorado Rapids: Preston Burpo ($57.8k)

Lots of intriguing options here (Jacob Peterson, UW Graduate Ty Harden among them), but I’ll go with Preston Burpo. A starter-quality goalkeeper, the former Sounder started 11 games in place of #1 Matt Pickens. Seattle did not select a goalkeeper in last year’s Expansion Draft, but I expect that to change with Philadelphia (unless they somehow manage to woo Brad Friedel or Marcus Hahnemann back to the United States).

FC Dallas: none

D.C. United: Ange N’Silu ($65k)

A hunch — I liked what I saw from him. N’Silu is a promising young Congolese attacker who saw limited minutes last year.

Houston Dynamo: Mike Chabala ($34k)

Houston general manager Oliver Luck left plenty of starters on this list, figuring that high salary figures (most north of $150,k) would scare the Union away. Chabala’s more modest number ($34k) seems more reasonable for a defender who started down the stretch for the Dynamo.

Beach_babes

Kansas City: Matt Besler ($36k)

A cheap young rookie defender – some had him on the rookie best XI. Started 26 games for the Wizards in 2008.

LA Galaxy: none

New England: Wells Thompson ($34.6k)

When Seattle constructed its first team, they often chose young players who could play multiple positions. Wells fits that bill.

Another value pick, Thompson was on the books for under $35k last season. Wells can play outside midfielder on either side. Fast player who can win balls can always find a spot on the field.

New York Red Bulls: none

Real Salt Lake: Ned Grabavoy ($83.6k)

I’m basing this solely on his tremendous performance in relief of Javier Morales in the MLS Cup.

Seattle Sounders FC: James Riley ($69k)

Across the league, I’ve noticed a trend of outside backs being left unprotected. The Riley exclusion raised some eyebrows around Seattle. Some are looking at Sebastien Le Toux, who never got comfortable in outside midfield and could be of value as a striker, but his six-figure salary is not palatable. Roger Levesque’s 40k is much more attractive, plus he’s also a great character guy.

james riley at party
from: http://www.nextseasonsports.com/2009/03/sounders-fc-nss-exclusive-column-team.html

Final Picks:

Marcelo Saragosa, M
Chris Rolfe, F
Frankie Hejduk, D
Preston Burpo, GK
Ange N’Silu, F
Mike Chabala, D
Matt Besler, D
Wells Thompson, M
Ned Grabavoy, M
James Riley, D

By position:

Goalkeeper: 1
Central Defenders: 0
Marking Backs: 4 (!)
Midfielders: 3
Strikers: 2

Total Salary: ~$745,500