OPINION – Analysis of FCC’s Expansion Draft list

Ahead of Tuesday night’s MLS Expansion Draft, FC Cincinnati protected 12 players from selection, while two more – Frankie Amaya and Andrew Gutman – were automatically protected.

To see who the Orange and Blue protected, click here.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is the list of players Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC can choose from. Remember, only one FCC player can be selected – if one is selected at all. 

Here are the players left unprotected:

Overall, I agree with the lists.

Eleven of the 12 players I predicted to be protected were. I protected Kekuta Manneh over Tommy McCabe, but that’s because I think another club is more likely to draft Manneh, a proven MLS veteran, over someone who only made six league appearances in 2019.

But, Manneh makes significantly more than McCabe and other players, which could explain why he’s available if Nashville or Miami want him.

Of the other 11, they’re practical decisions.

The Orange and Blue haven’t named a 2020 starting goalkeeper, but it’s more likely for an expansion team to draft Spencer Richey over Tytoń. That’s both out of financial reasons, but also age and international roster spots.

In theory, FC Cincinnati would’ve listed all their rostered players and ranked them by whom they want to keep and whom they’d be less frustrated by losing.

I think Caleb Stanko is part of FCC’s plans, but he might not be for Nashville or Miami. (I can’t see Miami taking both Victor Ulloa and then Stanko from Cincinnati). I think it’s low risk leaving him unprotected.

The same can be said Emmanuel Ledesma, who was second on the team for goals scored, but is an older player who requires an international slot, has a high salary for 2020 and said he wants to finish his career in Cincinnati.

FCC declined Lasso’s option, which could mean his most recent USL club, Nashville SC, pick him up in the Expansion Draft. If they do want use a pick on him, there’s also the trade windows that will open soon. 

FCC was in the exact same situation with Richey and Vancouver last year, deciding to trade this year’s natural third-round selection for the goalkeeper. 

Remember, Cincinnati also traded for both Kendall Waston and Greg Garza on 2018 Expansion Draft day.

For the other players, the unprotected list becomes a little more obvious. These players are either:

- They’re younger

- They haven’t played much with FCC in 2019

- They have higher salaries another team might not want to pick up in 2020

- They’re already out of contract for 2020

- The the club might be looking to offload their salary to sign someone else in the same position

The only thing now is waiting for Tuesday. It’s up to Miami or Nashville then. Of course, maybe FC Cincinnati trade with one of the clubs to selected another unprotected player on another MLS club. In 2018, FCC drafted Kei Kamara second, but traded him instantly to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for an international roster spot.

There are a lot of ways this draft can go, but as of the protected list’s release, it’s no longer up to Cincinnati to decide its fate.