It’s an excellent sign of growth when a professional league expands such as MLS will be doing in Atlanta and Minnesota. It’s hell on the established teams since they will have to sacrifice depth to stock these incoming teams. How will it affect the NYCFC club?
This Tuesday, December 13, the MLS Expansion Draft will be in effect three days after the MLS Cup Champion is crowned. The way it works this time around is all twenty MLS Clubs will be allowed to protect eleven players. Each club will have five unprotected players for the two expansion teams, first Atlanta United FC followed by Minnesota United FC will rotate picks until they have selected the maximum one player from each of the twenty teams. A smaller pool to work with as opposed to 2014 when ten unprotected players were available per team.
That year, Orlando City and NYCFC benefited from the larger selection. NYCFC specifically acquired gems like Mehdi Ballouchy, Tommy McNamara, and Ned Grabavoy, among others to add to their big three.
Once a player is selected from a given team, that club is free from the Expansion Draft. For NYCFC the concern of most fans would be the fate of their young star Jack Harrison. Not to worry. In MLS,
Not to worry. In MLS, Generation Adidas, which Harrison is under, are not available for the Expansion Draft. Generation Adidas is a joint program between MLS and Adidas to develop exceptional players in a professional environment by keeping their salary from counting against the club’s budget while remaining protected from other interested clubs until they graduate. Homegrown players are also not available to be drafted.
The list of protected players has yet to be released but one can assume R.J. Allen, Ronald Matarrita, Khiry Shelton, and the recently acquired USL MVP Sean Okoli should be among those kept. Mix Diskerud appears to be on the out so he is off the list.
So, in review, NYCFC will lose some players but most likely not anyone they really covet and the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft should not slow NYCFC progress significantly going into year three.