Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Never Too Soon to Speculate: Who Will RBNY Protect?; Feuerstein's Fire #29 Tonight

Who, if anyone, will be this year's Nick Zimmerman?  You know - the player the Red Bulls simply "cannot afford to lose."  Never mind that Zimmerman (pictured, back in his RBNY days) is having a hard time even getting time on the pitch for his new club in Philadelphia.  MLS expansion drafts seem to elicit strong feelings in fans, who become attached to young player X or young player Y and simply cannot bear to see them given away to another team for nothing.

Over the weekend, as most of us were focusing on the game down in Philadelphia, MLS announced the rules for the upcoming expansion draft, which will take place on November 24 - just three days after MLS Cup.  With Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps joining the league next season, the maximum number of players the Red Bulls stand to lose is two. 

Each existing MLS club will able to protect 11 players, but here's where it starts to get tricky - the list must include any Designated Players with no-trade clauses.  Barring a Juan Pablo Angel trade before the end of November (and given the JPA rumors making the rounds this is not totally out of the question), this means that thee of RBNY's 11 slots will automatically be filled, leaving just eight additional places.

On top of this DP requirement, any Generation Adidas or home grown players are automatically excluded from the expansion draft and therefore do not need to be protected.  Unfortunately for the Red Bulls, Tony Tchani is almost certain to graduate from Generation Adidas as a result of his extensive playing time this season and thus will need to be protected, while other recent draftees, such as Tim Ream, Austin da Luz and Jeremy Hall are either are not currently or never were GA players and will also not be eligible for protection.

To add a further wrinkle to an already complicated process, a team that has more than three international players (and the Red Bulls would certainly qualify here, with nine international players) can only leave three fewer than their total number of international players unprotected. Remember also that Mike Petke and Seth Stammler have announced their retirement(s), making the choices a bit less difficult for the Red Bulls brain trust.

Taking all this into account, barring some movement on the JPA situation, I'd expect the final RBNY protected list to look something like this:


This means that a number of names that could potentially be enticing to Portland and Vancouver will be available.  At the top of this list would be young, relatively cheap players with some upside, such as Jeremy Hall, Austin da Luz, Danleigh Borman and, yes, even fan favorite Irving Garcia.  The group of veterans left unprotected could include Chris Albright, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Carl Robinson and Salou Ibrahim. Brian Nielsen is a bit of a wild card in all of this.  It's hard to imagine a scenario where an MLS club would take a flyer on an often injured loan player who has hardly featured in MLS, but I suppose stranger things have happened.  If either Portland or Vancouver were to select an RBNY player, the club would then be entitled to protect an additional player to bring the number back up to 11, so keep that in mind as well.

Does our list look right to you?  If not, who would you like to see included/excluded?  Whatever happens, you can bank on at least one or two fans declaring the expansion draft a "disaster."  It just comes with the territory.

One more thing.  If you haven't already you should definitely make Dan Feuerstein's podcast Feuersteins' Fire part of your weekly listening regime.  You can check out the latest episode, which airs at 8pm ET tonight, here.

This week, in addition to breaking down the Red Bulls game on Saturday in Chester, Dan will chat with representatives from the two teams involved in the US Soc­cer Federation Division Two Cham­pi­onship Final, the Carolina Railhawks and Puerto Rico Islanders.  Dan always has stellar guests, great interviews and - for home matches at least - post-game audio from Hans Backe and RBNY players.  He's a also a great guy and a good friend of The Viper's Nest crew (you may recognize him from some of our half time videos).  So tune in and check it out as we get ready for the big contest against New England on Thursday.

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