The results of the MLS expansion draft are in with both Atlanta United and Minnesota United targeting domestic defensive pieces at low cost. It's not exactly surprising – both teams, and Atlanta in particular, have been loading up their front lines and midfield with high-priced international talent. They left a lot of good players on the board, but both teams made pretty smart picks to help build their rosters.
Here's a look at each pick of the expansion draft, in order.
Atlanta United: Donny Toia, Montreal Impact
A 24-year-old left back, Toia only appeared in about half of Montreal's games this season, but he had a pretty good 2015. His lack of playing time may have made him easy to forget but Atlanta did their homework and probably saw him as a good value pick at just over a $60,000 salary this year. He comes pretty cheap and can be a solid depth piece if he doesn't start.
Update:Later in the afternoon, Atlanta traded Toia to Orlando City for a first-round college draft pick.
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Minnesota United: Chris Duvall, New York Red Bulls
Another young value pick, the 25-year-old defender is capable of playing centerback or as a right back. His versatility will give Minnesota depth in the backline and he is capable of pushing forward in the attack as well. He's a solid pickup that won’t hurt the salary cap at just under $70,000 and he can push for a starting spot right away.
Update:Minnesota later traded Duvall and general allocation money to Montreal for midfielder Johan Venegas.
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Atlanta United: Zach Loyd, FC Dallas
Loyd checks both of the boxes that seemed to be a theme for the expansion draft: Defense and versatility. He can play fullback and centerback, and he was a starter for FC Dallas up until a concussion in June sidelined him for the season. Along with being solid 1v1, he can play with the ball at his feet and, as long as he's healthy, we can expect him to start.
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Minnesota United: Collen Warner, Houston Dynamo
Another defensive piece, Warner played a key role in shielding Houston's back line and moving the ball in transition from a central midfield role. He may not necessarily nab a starting spot straight out the gate, but he can help hold onto possession and keep his team advance up the field.
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Atlanta United: Clint Irwin, Toronto FC
As the best goalkeeper up for grabs, Irwin seemed like a safe choice. Since Atlanta has been linked to U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan, it's unclear if Atlanta intends to keep Irwin, however. He is starting caliber and would be a great back-up, or Atlanta may be looking to flip the pick and trade for someone else who wasn't available in the expansion draft.
Given the age differential between Guzan and Irwin, not to mention form, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Atlanta to hold onto Irwin and use their spot in the allocation order to trade Guzan, but that seems unlikely.
Update:Atlanta did not take our advice and they traded Irwin back to Toronto for general allocation money and defender Mark Bloom, who interestingly enough was also unprotected in the draft.
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Minnesota United: Mohammed Saied, Columbus Crew
Again, the key for the day was apparently versatility and defensive presence, and Saied brings that. He can play either as a holding midfielder or in a more box-to-box role, but either way, he offers versatility in the central midfield with defending ability. He's another affordable player who, even if he's only a depth piece, he's a solid one.
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Atlanta United: Mikey Ambrose, Orlando City
If versatile defenders were popular in the expansion draft, inexpensive ones were especially popular. Ambrose's modest salary (just over $60,000) and young age (23) makes him a good value pick to develop. He is probably more of a long-term prospect than an instant starter, but it could pay off.
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Minnesota United: Jeff Attinella, Real Salt Lake
It's been unclear who will be starting for Minnesota in goal, and it appears we now have our answer. Attinella is a guy who was never going to start over Nick Rimando in Salt Lake City, but seemed to be ready for a starting spot somewhere. He's been with RSL since 2013 and this is a big opportunity for him to try to break out and prove himself. If not, he would be a solid back-up, just like he has been.
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Atlanta United: Alec Kann, Sporting Kansas City
This is where things get interesting. Atlanta are rumored to be settling on Brad Guzan and they picked another goalkeeper, Clint Irwin, already in the expansion draft. There seems to be some trades in the air. A good bet is that Kann will stick around as a back-up and Irwin will be traded away, simply because Kann doesn't seem to offer as much value for a trade.
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Minnesota United: Femi Hollinger-Janzen, New England Revolution
A solid final pick-up. He didn't get consistent minutes with the Revs, but when he did play, he showed a lot of potential. He's strong, athletic, and good in the air. He's also only 23 years old and the cheapest player picked in the expansion draft, according to this year's salary numbers, so he's a low-risk pick with a big potential payoff if he works out.