In 2023, yet another new team, St Louis City SC, will join MLS. Which means another edition of everyone’s favorite MLS offseason event: the expansion draft. This week, we’ll look at which 12 players FC Dallas should protect and which players should be left unprotected ahead of the draft on Friday.
The following players are automatically protected by virtue of being homegrown players under the age of 25 or current Generation Adidas players:
*I’m not 100% sure about Farfan’s homegrown status. The FCD and MLS websites list him as a homegrown but there is nothing I can find that indicates if his homegrown rights were traded from Portland to LAFC ahead of 2021 or from LAFC to FCD ahead of 2022.
Sebastian Lletget – no brainer here, FCD and Lletget have reportedly already agreed to a new deal and Lletget looks to be an important part of Nico Estevez’s squad moving forward
Maarten Paes – another no brainer. Paes emerged as the clear cut number one goalkeeper and was one of the better keepers in the league, backstopping the best defense in the Western Conference by goals allowed.
Alan Velasco – obviously you’re going to protect you big money young designated player. Velasco looks to be a cornerstone of the team’s attack in the next few seasons.
Paul Arriola – another incredibly obvious selection, Arriola was a huge part of FCD’s turnaround in 2022 and is coming off the best statistical year of his career.
Matt Hedges – FCD is currently in negotiation with their all time appearance leader on a new contract, though those talks are reportedly not going particularly well. Despite that, with the expansion draft coming before the deadline to make decisions on contract options, like the one Hedges has for 2023, FCD needs to protect him here.
José Martínez – despite not necessarily being adored by the fanbase, Martínez was a regular starter in the backline and clearly has the trust of Nico Estevez and his staff. Despite his contract making it unlikely that St Louis would take him in the draft, FCD should protect him.
Ema Twumasi – despite being challenged by Nanu for the starting right back spot, the Ghanaian former winger held down the spot over the course of the season. He’s on a relatively cheap contract and would be an appealing pick in the expansion draft if left unprotected. Twumasi is a valuable and versatile squad member that FCD should certainly keep around, even if they look to upgrade at right back for 2023.
Facundo Quignón – another player who is not particularly loved by the fanbase, Facu did play a significant role for FCD in 2022. Unlikely to garner major interest from St Louis considering that he takes up an international spot and is on a relatively high salary, FCD could certainly afford to leave him unprotected but with so many automatic protections from the homegrowns and GA players, it makes sense to protect Facu.
Nkosi Tafari – on the flip side of the fanbase love question, Nkosi Tafari is loved by the fanbase and perhaps doesn’t get as much playing time as many would like to see. Despite that, Tafari would be a clear choice for an expansion draft pick by St Louis as he’s young, proven in MLS, domestic and on a relatively low contract. Pretty clear cut for FCD to protect Nkosi here.
Tsiki Ntsabeleng – although not quite as appealing to an expansion team as someone like Tafari, Tsiki would certainly be a real risk to be chosen if he was left unprotected. He showed some really attractive qualities in his rookie season and is on a very small contract. The fact that he currently takes up an international spot might be a bit of a turn off but FCD should really look to protect Tsiki here (and give him a new contract while they’re at it).
Bernard Kamungo – although not yet proven in MLS, Kamungo is another who would be a clear cut choice for an expansion team. Young, highly talented, the only real downside for Bernard is that he takes up an international spot but he would be an easy choice for an expansion pick. FCD sees a lot of promise in Kamungo, no doubt they will protect him here.
Jimmy Maurer – the final protected pick. In all honesty, it doesn’t necessarily make a ton of sense to protect Jimmy. He’s not particularly cheap, he’s getting older and, unfortunately, has not been at his best in the last couple seasons after a stellar 2020 season. That being said, FCD has so many automatically protected players that they can afford to protect their backup goalkeeper here.
*Note: if Marco Farfan is not still carrying his homegrown player status, he should absolutely be one of the protected players and I would protect him over Maurer here.
Franco Jara – let’s be honest, there’s no chance that St Louis will take Jara in the draft anyways. His salary is far too high and his contract runs out during the summer.
Jáder Obrian – Obrian has been a frustrating player to watch since he joined the club in 2021. He has been useful at times and was regularly used as a substitute by Nico Estevez. However, with Bernard Kamungo being signed late in the season, Obrian may be dropping further down the depth chart. At his salary figure, the fact that he occupies an international slot and his middling production in MLS, it doesn’t seem likely that St Louis would take him anyways and it doesn’t make a ton of sense for FCD to protect him over other players.
Joshué Quiñónez – Quiñónez is on loan from Barcelona SC in Ecuador. FCD does not have to publicly announce whether they will pick up his buy option until after the expansion draft. That question mark hanging over Quiñónez makes it unlikely that St Louis will use a pick on him, as well as his lack of MLS experience and his status as an international player. Makes little sense for FCD to use a spot to protect him.
Nanu – another player on loan, it seems highly unlikely that FCD will want to bring Nanu back for 2023, meaning it makes little sense to protect him. He is simply not worth the money FCD is paying him as he wasn’t able to displace Ema Twumasi at right back. If St Louis wants him, I think FCD will be happy to let them take him.
Lucas Bartlett – Bartlett was a bit of a project pick in last year’s SuperDraft. Blessed with fantastic physical qualities, FCD seemed to think they might be able to quickly mold the 25 year old rookie into an MLS level player. That never really seemed to come close to happening and it would be a real shock if Bartlett is back with FCD in 2023 or if he’s selected in the expansion draft.
Nicky Hernandez – drafted in 2021, Nicky spent the 2021 season playing for North Texas SC in USL League One and then went on loan to San Antonio FC in USL Championship in 2022. It is unclear if FCD will bring him back for 2023 but it also seems unlikely that St Louis would use a pick on him in the draft, no real reason to protect your third string midfielder.
What are your thoughts on who FCD should or should not protect ahead of Friday’s expansion draft? Let me know in the comments below!
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