The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Monday morning their 11-player protected list ahead of the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft to be held tomorrow, and there a few surprises in the group.
Chris Wondolowski was a lock to make the list as the Quakes would never consider leaving their talisman available for selection by either Minnesota United or Atlanta United in the 5 round draft that will be conducted Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. The club’s reigning MVP was joined by no-brainers David Bingham, Anibal Godoy, and Simon Dawkins.
Shea Salinas, who the Quakes famously left unprotected in the 2009 MLS Expansion Draft and subsequently saw their first-ever draft pick get nabbed by the Philadelphia Union, made the cut seven years later as the speedy winger has found a place in head coach Dominic Kinnear’s rotation. Youngsters Cordell Cato and Fatai Alashe — two midfielders with plenty of upside, also made the list.
But the inclusion of defenders Kofi Sarkodie and Andres Imperiale have raised a few eyebrows, especially if you consider some of the young prospects the Quakes have dangled in front of the two Uniteds. Sarkodie and Imperiale have value, no doubt, but it seems very risky for San Jose to leave Marc Pelosi and Kip Colvey unprotected. If either United is looking for a bit of a project, both are ready to go.
Good news for the Quakes, they can only lose one of them, and it is more likely they won’t lose anyone to the two newest MLS teams. The Expansion Draft this season will only be five rounds long, with each team selecting once per round for a total of five players each, ten players overall. If a Quakes player is selected, the rest of San Jose’s unprotected list is off limits for the remainder of the draft.
Other notable names available to Minnesota and Atlanta in the draft are Clarence Goodson, who is out injured following back surgery last summer, Innocent, the Designated Player bust, and Marvell Wynne, the Quakes most consistent defender the past two seasons. Long-injured forward Steven Lenhart is available for selection as well, but the hero of the 2012 Goonies is more likely headed into retirement than to a new team.
Following the conclusion of the Expansion Draft, the window for MLS Free Agency begins. Both Goodson (2017 contract option declined) and Wynne (out of contract) are eligible for free agency, so San Jose only has a short window for exclusive contract negotiations before they can be courted by any MLS team. The defenders were near the top of the San Jose salary scale in 2016, so bringing either or both back is not a given.
The Earthquakes, all quiet on the player transfer front this off-season, are likely to begin bringing in the pieces to bolster their roster staring with free agency. MLS Re-Entry Drafts the following two weeks will provide additional opportunities to acquire players, and the MLS SuperDraft in January will cap things off. The Quakes begin their preseason in late January.
San Jose Earthquakes 2016 MLS Expansion Draft Protected List
Note: Andrew Tarbell (Generation Adidas) and Tommy Thompson (Homegrown Player) are automatically protected.
San Jose Earthquakes 2016 MLS Expansion Draft Unprotected List