We’ve always known that Nashville SC and Inter Miami would have the opportunity to select players from their soon-to-be brethren in MLS as they build their rosters this offseason. Now we know the specifics of how the 2019 expansion draft will go down.
From MLS release:
NEW YORK (September 18, 2019) – The momentum continues for Major League Soccer’s 2020 expansion clubs Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, as MLS today announced that the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will take place on Nov. 19. In addition, the 2019 MLS Expansion Priority Draft on Oct. 6 will kick off an intense final day of the regular season during MLSsoccer.com’s “Matchday Central: Decision Day presented by AT&T Pregame Show.”
The Expansion Draft provides an opportunity for Miami and Nashville to strengthen their MLS rosters by selecting up to five current players from other MLS teams. Each current MLS team may protect up to 12 rostered players (previously 11 in years past) from inclusion on the eligible players list. The complete list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Saturday, November 16. Exempt clubs with players selected by FC Cincinnati in the 2018 Expansion Draft are D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo, and the New York Red Bulls.
Notable former Expansion Draft picks include a pair of LAFC’s 2017 selections: Latif Blessing and Tyler Miller. Blessing has six goals and five assists alongside Miller’s nine shutouts for the top-ranked club in league standings. FC Cincinnati selected Darren Mattocks and Roland Lamah in 2018, and both became regular contributors for the club this season.
As a prelude to the Expansion Draft, live from midtown Manhattan on Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. ET, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner & CEO Jorge Mas with Sporting Director Paul McDonough will be front and center alongside Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre and General Manager Mike Jacobs for the 2019 MLS Expansion Priority Draft. The event will lead into an exciting day of MLS coverage during the “Matchday Central: Decision Day presented by AT&T Pregame Show,” which will stream live on MLSsoccer.com, and through the MLS app, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
An opening coin toss for the Expansion Priority Draft will determine which club receives the first pick among the five available player-acquisition methods. Following the first pick, teams will alternate through subsequent selections until all roster-building mechanisms have been chosen.
MLS Expansion Priority Draft
1. No.1 pick in 2019 MLS Expansion Draft
2. No.1 pick in 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas
3. No.1 position in Allocation Ranking Order
4. Penultimate position in MLS Re-Entry and End-of-Year Waiver Order
5. Penultimate position in Discovery Player Ranking
The coin-flip to choose from one of five acquisition methods is an interesting twist – I’d assumed teams would just be assigned them in alternating order from the list (in approximately that priority level). I’d say first choice should probably be the No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick: there are very few guaranteed contributors coming out of college each year, and the gap between the No. 1 Draft pick and the No. 2 guy is likely to be much larger than the gap between the 13th-best player on multiple different MLS teams.
Since clubs can’t have players selected in back-to-back years, the pool of available teams from which to select is down to 19 – for 10 picks between NSC and IMCF. The expansion of the protected rosters to 12 players per team means that the 13th “best” (or most-wanted by the donor team) player from each squad is hypothetically available, minus Homegrowns and Generation Adidas players.
Here’s the June MLS Salary list, minus players from the five exempt teams, the Homegrowns, and the GA players. If you want to mentally remove the 12 players from each club that you expect them to protect, you’ll start to get a picture of the available pool. That list (which doesn’t include players who signed in the August transfer window – get it together, MLSPA) is 442 guys, if you protect 12 from each team, the available pool is about 214 (plus or minus those other signings, errors in the salary release, changes to Homegrown or GA status that I’m not aware of, etc.).
It’s important to draft smart during this process, because there are plenty of guys available who can contribute to an expansion team, and good scouting can unearth first-choice starter types. Don’t do what FC Cincinnati did and select guys from a team’s USL affiliate. (It cannot be overstated how regularly “don’t do what FC Cincinnati did” pops up in various contexts around starting an expansion team). Do what LAFC did and pick two lock starters, one guy good enough to play in about half your games, and two more that you flip to acquire your team captain. That, to me, seems smarter.
As for the SuperDraft, Akron’s David Egbo, Stanford’s Tanner Beason (though he’s a graduating senior, which is a less valuable player type to draft for reasons I’ve laid out before), Wake Forest’s Bruno Lapa (also a senior), and Portland’s Jacobo Reyes are among the names you might want to keep an eye on for the No. 1 overall pick.