Who's who of MLS on the trading block
MLS expansion drafts have never really been considered exciting or really talent-laden in the past, but in the changing landscape of Major League Soccer, with teams looking to unload big salaries, and some teams stockpiling too much talent to hold on to, the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft boasts more talent than any draft before it.
Vancouver and Portland have already been aggressive in adding talent even prior to the expansion draft, either through their affiliations with their Division 2 versions, which Portland has already begun to do expertly, or as in the case of Vancouver, with the high-profile signing of U.S. national team defender Jay DeMerit.
While neither team may need to rely on Wednesday's expansion draft to give them the foundation for their teams, the talent available to each of them should leave both clubs with a good starting point as both look to emulate the 2009 Seattle Sounders as a strong first-year team.
Just how much talent is available? Consider established veterans such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Juan Pablo Angel and Jimmy Conrad, or talented younger players like Dax McCarty, Collen Warner and Eric Avila.
The Whitecaps has several young players already in their plans so they may go for veteran options, while Portland could look to find some younger prospects to build around.
Here is how the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft could shake out:
1. PORTLAND TIMBERS - DAX McCARTY (FC Dallas)
The Timbers can’t pass on the consensus best value in the expansion draft. John Spencer knows the value of a good passer in central midfield and McCarty is best value in the pool.
FC Dallas pulls back Eric Avila
2. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS - BLAISE NKUFO (Seattle Sounders)
The Whitecaps need a forward and NKufo showed in half a season with Seattle that he was capable of keeping up his Dutch League scoring pace in MLS. NKufo’s family also lives in British Columbia.
Seattle pulls back Patrick Ianni
3. PORTLAND TIMBERS- COLLEN WARNER (Real Salt Lake)
Expansion teams don’t always look to local ties for players, but the Timbers will be hard-pressed to pass on Warner, a dynamic and versatile midfielder with Portland roots.
Real Salt Lake pulls back Ned Grabavoy
4. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS - KYLE DAVIES (FC Dallas)
The White Caps have just signed Jay DeMerit to anchor their defense, but adding a highly-regarded young centerback to partner alongside DeMerit would be a quality move. Davies is a former U.S. Under-20 national team captain who lost out in Dallas after the emergence of George John.
FC Dallas finished
5. PORTLAND TIMBERS - JIMMY CONRAD (Sporting KC)
He might come at a high price, and isn’t getting any younger, but Conrad is a strong central defender who can serve as the anchor of the Timbers back-line. Even of John Spencer didn’t see Conrad in his plans, Conrad would definitely draw trade interest.
Sporting KC pulls back Chance Myers.
6. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS- O’BRIAN WHITE (Toronto FC)
The Whitecaps aren’t likely to pass on a Canadian striker with promise, and White is a player who could still emerge as a difference maker after enduring a tough time with Toronto FC.
Toronto FC pulls back Chad Barrett
7. PORTLAND TIMBERS - COREY ASHE (Houston Dynamo)
The Timbers are loading on speedy wingers as John Spencer reunites with Ashe, who he coached in Houston. Ashe brings pace and versatility, much like Warner.
Houston pulls back Dominic Oduro
8. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS - PAT ONSTAD (Houston Dynamo)
This one seems inevitable. Yes, Houston would like to keep him, but if Onstad is going to finish out his career in his hometown of Vancouver this is the year to do it. Onstad can still give you a good year, while also being coach-like in terms of wisdom.
9. PORTLAND TIMBERS - BRAD KNIGHTON (Philadelphia Union)
The Timbers go considerably younger in goal than Vancouver, grabbing the impressive and undervalued Knighton to battle Steve Cronin for the starting job. Knighton beat out Chris Seitz in Philadelphia before being inexplicably left unprotected.
Philadelphia pulls back Shea Salinas
10. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS - SANNA NYASSI (Seattle Sounders)
The Whitecaps follow Portland in the search for speed on the wing and they look to arch-rival Seattle to fulfill that need. Nyassi still has to work on some things, but the Whitecaps could field an attack with two former Sounders in it.
11. PORTLAND TIMBERS - ERIC BRUNNER (Columbus Crew)
After grabbing a veteran defender early in Conrad, the Timbers go younger and much cheaper in landing Brunner, a centerback/fullback combo who has started a combined 39 starts for Columbus over the past two seasons.
Columbus pulls back Adam Moffat
12. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS- TIM WARD (San Jose Earthquakes)
The Whitecaps have some fullback options in the fold already, but Ward can play both left back and right back and is still young, making him a valuable roster component.
San Jose pulls back Bobby Burling
13. PORTLAND TIMBERS - ANTHONY WALLACE (Colorado Rapids)
The Timbers landed an athletic right back option in Jeremy Hall via trade, and may have found his perfect partner on the wing in Wallace, who started at left back for the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids.
FC Dallas finished
14. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS - PAT PHELAN (New England Revolution)
Versatility and toughness combined with a low salary make Phelan an attractive option this late.
New England pulls back Cory Gibbs
15. PORTLAND TIMBERS - SHAVAR THOMAS (Sporting Kansas City)
Conrad and Thomas played together in Kansas City and that familiarity could help Portland build a defense that much more quickly. Thomas has made the rounds in MLS, but is still a useful centerback option.
Sporting Kansas City finished.
16. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS - ANDREW JACOBSON (Philadelphia Union)
Vancouver general manager Tom Soehn was head coach at D.C. United when Jacobson returned to MLS from France and will pounce on a solid and reasonably-priced defensive midfield option.
17. PORTLAND TIMBERS - BRAD RING (San Jose Earthquakes)
After missing his entire 2009 rookie season with an injury, Ring played in 11 matches for San Jose, impressing at times. He lost out to Sam Cronin when Cronin was acquired by the Earthquakes, but Portland can use him as a defensive midfield option.
San Jose finished.
18. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS - DASAN ROBINSON (Chicago Fire)
When healthy, Robinson can be a solid MLS defender and the Whitecaps can use him alongside DeMerit or even at fullback if need be.
Chicago pulls back Peter Lowry.
19. PORTLAND TIMBERS - JUAN PABLO ANGEL (New York Red Bulls)
The Timbers use their last pick on Angel, a veteran striker who the Red Bulls let go despite him still being the team’s top scorer. Portland is bringing forwards Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike from its USSF D-2 team, but Angel is good enough to lead Portland’s forward line.
New York pulls back Austin Da Luz.
20. VANCOUVER WHITE CAPS - GUILLERMO BARROS SCHELOTTO (Columbus Crew)
Much like Portland, the Whitecaps will be looking to strike gold with a late pick and Schelotto just might be that player. With Nkufo and White to pass to, Schelotto could flourish. The real question is just how much it would cost Vancouver to secure the Argentine star’s services.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.