The cleaning crews at StubHub Center have barely had enough time to mop up after the LA Galaxy celebrated winning the 2014 MLS Cup Final; the start of the 2015 season is today, and the league half-day trading window is wide open.
And while the San Jose Earthquakes seem ready to keep the shutters closed, the are moving forward with internal roster moves ahead of Wednesday's Expansion Draft for Orlando City SC and New York City FC. Later in the day, the Quakes will submit their 11-player protected list to MLS and will wait anxiously to see which players survive the 10-round draft and which potentially will move cross country.
Sitting out the half-day trade window, especially with the opportunity present to deal players to OCSC and NYCFC for some level of compensation -- maybe allocation money -- and perhaps forge an understanding that no players will be selected during the actual Expansion Draft, may or may not matter to the Earthquakes. With new coach Dominic Kinnear aboard, big changes to the player roster are expected. And even if the Quakes lose a player on Wednesday, they will still receive $50,000 in allocation money from MLS. Losing a player (or even two) in the Expansion Draft does not come without some reward.
Because San Jose is one just a handful of MLS teams that has not announced its postseason roster moves -- which players have had their contracts exercised, which have not, and which out-of-contract players are not expected back -- there is quite a bit of guesswork as to who the 11 players will be that Kinnear and general manager John Doyle will elect to protect. As such, a look at the entire roster is required before speculating on the 11-player list.
2014 San Jose Earthquakes senior roster (as of December 7):
(In alphabetical order)
||2014 Guaranteed Compensation|
|Matias Perez Garcia||International/Designated Player||$216,000.00|
|Chris Wondolowski||Designated Player||$650,000.00|
2014 San Jose Earthquakes supplemental roster (as of December 7):
(In alphabetical order)
||2014 Guaranteed Compensation|
|David Bingham||Generation Adidas graduate||$130,285.00|
|Tommy Muller||Reserve/Disabled List||$48,500.00|
|Tommy Thompson||Home Grown Player||$145,000.00|
So who will the Earthquakes deem worthy of protected? The official list will be announced soon, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to speculate. As such, Center Line Soccer presents its 11-player San Jose Earthquakes protected list, and the reasoning behind it, for the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft.
The "Definitely better protect these guys" list:
Even if the Quakes weren't about to undergo a big roster upheaval following a brutal last-place in the Western Conference finish to the 2014 season, these players would definitely be protected in the Expansion Draft. Some because the rules require it, and some because they are important building blocks, Doyle and Kinnear would be foolish to dangle these players under the noses of the two Cities.
Chris Wondolowski, Matias Perez Garcia, Shea Salinas -- Three very important parts of the Earthquakes offense. The first two are Designated Players, so they would not necessarily need to be protected from two teams that likely will fill their own DP slots with higher priced imports -- Kaka at Orlando and Frank Lampard and David Villa at New York are already signed to DP contracts -- but it would be risky to leave them exposed and have either expansion side hold their contracts ransom for trade.
Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Pablo Pintos -- Three key defenders for the Quakes. Bernardez did not have the best of seasons in 2014, but his experience is vital for the back line. Count Goodson in that category as well, as the U.S. international will be fully recovered from a foot injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season. Newcomer right back Pintos is not going anywhere; he was signed late in the season with an eye toward 2015.
Sam Cronin, David Bingham -- The first and the last of the must-protect players. Cronin is the engine of the Earthquakes midfield; he could be as important to Kinnear's new-look Quakes as Kyle Beckerman has been to Real Salt Lake in that team's recent run of success. He's only 27-years old and has proven his chops as a defensive midfielder. Bingham, recently graduated from the league's Generation Adidas program is the future of goalkeeping for San Jose. Still only 25-year old, some consider him ready to step in as the Earthquakes starter in 2015.
Tommy Thompson -- Exempt from the Expansion Draft due to his status as a Home Grown Player not on the Senior roster, it is worth mentioning Thompson here as a player that will definitely be in the Quakes plans in 2015 and beyond.
The "On the bubble" player pool:
Yannick Djalo, Steven Lenhart, Adam Jahn -- Three important contributors to the Earthquakes offense, but uncertainty as to how they would fit in in 2015. Djalo was on loan from Benfica, and it appears his return on another loan is unlikely. Still, if he were offered back to MLS -- perhaps to Orlando City as rumored -- then it might be good for the Quakes to hold onto his rights. Lenhart and Jahn represent target forwards in the traditional sense, and Kinnear has made use of such a player in his time at Houston, so one of the two is likely to make the list.
Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, JJ Koval, Cordell Cato -- Midfielders that show promise. JBP is probably the most intriguing player on the list. He could certainly step right into the starting line-up at either New York or Orlando, and his reported salary of $240,000 is not a deal-breaker. With Cronin a lock to be protected, Pierazzi could be the odd man out at central midfielder. Koval and Cato represent young players with plenty of potential. Like Salinas following the 2009 season, when he was selected by the Philadelphia Union, either of Koval or Cato would be a solid pick-up. In the Quakes favor, if the Cities choose a player off a team's Supplemental Roster, they have to promote him to their Senior Roster. That might be enough for Orlando and New York to pass on both of the Earthquakes youngsters.
Ty Harden, Shaun Francis, Jordan Stewart, Atiba Harris -- All four of these players represent definite-maybes. Possibly role players in 2015, they were all called upon last season to play important parts in the team's set-up. Harris is on a big contract, so he is worth leaving unprotected, as is Stewart. Harden and Francis come at a much less expensive price, so they could get the attention of the Cities. Harden seems the most likely of the four to get added to the protected list.
Jon Busch -- The veteran goalkeeper is coming off one of his best season's yet, and his five-year statistics are league-leading in some categories. However, the Quakes look ready to promote Bingham to starter is required, making Busch surplus to the cause. He is out of contract, so leaving him off the list does not pose a huge risk to the Earthquakes.
The "Unlikely on the Cities radar" list:
Billy Schuler, Khari Stephenson, Mike Fucito -- Three players that had limited roles in 2014. Stephenson was a bright spot at times, but at 33-years old, he will not be among the 20 players selected in Wednesday's draft. Fucito and Schuler are back-up players for the Quakes and in the same category for the Cities as well.
Jason Hernandez, Brandon Barklage, Andreas Gorlitz -- All come with pedigree, but all are not significant enough catches in the Expansion Draft. Hernandez still has a role to play, so it would be good for the Earthquakes to find a way to keep him on the roster in 2015; however, Barklage was disappointing at times and Gorlitz is set to retire -- both may have played their last games for San Jose.
Billy Knutsen, Bryan Meredith, Thomas Muller -- Two of the three were counted among the Quakes reserves in 2014. Meredith, the outlier, was a capable understudy to Busch, and he could play the same role to Bingham in 2015. All three are in no danger of being whisked away in the Expansion Draft.
Which leads us to...
San Jose Earthquakes projected Expansion Draft protected list
|Matias Perez Garcia|
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