Nashville SC

An insane man ranks things: 2019 Expansion Draft keepers

Tyler Miller photo courtesy LAFC

Let’s crunch the numbers a bit and rank each available position in the 2019 Expansion Draft from top to bottom. There obviously aren’t hard-and-fast criteria here: how do you value an extra goal over the course of 34 games for a defensive midfielder versus preventing another expected goal from being conceded? Is an extra year in age worth [insert disparity in compensation here]? Maybe!

The dataGoalkeeperCenterbackFB/WBMidfieldCAM/WingerForward

They’re in rank order for the guys I’d definitely pick up, and alphabetical in other categories.

Immediate starter

This obviously has a very different set of statistical benchmarks to evaluate than basically any other position. Age is much less of a factor, and the difference between goals conceded and the expected goals conceded (i.e. “goals saved”) is our primary data point at the spot. As per always, we’re trying to go cheap. But we’re also concerned about quality. See how tough this is?

1. Tyler Miller, LAFC

I’ll be a little pleasantly surprised if Miller is available for Nashville with the second pick in the expansion draft: even if it’s not him, Inter Miami will likely take somebody from LAFC with the first pick. And if they don’t, Nashville might strongly consider a field player from LAFC, anyway.

Despite playing behind one of the best defenses in Major League Soccer, Miller still only allowed 86% of the (very few) goals you’d have expected were he an average keeper. After being picked in the 2017/18 Expansion Draft by LAFC, he’s still pretty close to a senior-minimum deal, too, and a GAM buydown to have one of the best keepers in the league on your Supplemental Roster sounds like a “smart choice.”

The kicker? He’ll be playing for a long time, given he’s only 26.

2. Brian Rowe, Orlando City SC

While Miller’s standing as No. 1 is very obvious, it gets murky quickly as to whether there’s another sure thing. Rowe is a good keeper (97% GA/xGA), and got the lion’s share of minutes for OCSC – a surprisingly competent defense in protecting him – but he’s already 31, he’s pretty far from a Supplemental Roster compensation number ($98,000), and not a value pick.

If you want him as your starter – or an asset to turn right around – that’s probably fine. But if he’s not a guy who will either be starting from day one or or flipped for a more-immediately useful player, your pick is more wisely spent elsewhere.

Good with questions

Jeff Attinella, Portland Timbers

Attinella played 10 complete games last season. He also played behind one of the worst defenses possible in this dataset (their xG defense was particularly poor, even though the team rose to mediocrity). He performed well in that time, allowing fewer goals than the xG would expect of an average keeper.

However, he was very clearly a No. 2 – and while that’s partially because Steve Clark was elite, obscuring just how bad the Portland defense was, there’s a risk in assuming a 31-year old is a plug-and-play solution (even if he was good as a starter in 2018).

If he’s a one- or two-year signing, he makes sense as an Expansion Draft pick, even if his compensation is on the higher end here ($175k), and that also applies if he’s a draft-and-deal option.

Cody Cropper, New England Revolution

Cropper is just going to be turning 27 as next season kicks off, and he’s within $7,000 in GAM of being on a senior minimum salary (and thus eligible for the Supplemental Roster distinction). There’s value in those factors.

His numbers weren’t particularly pretty, though. He began the year as a regular starter, then saw the bench (and eventually Hartford Athletic’s roster) as Matt Turner proved to be one of the best keepers – probably the very best – in MLS. That Turner put up outstanding numbers while getting shelled, and was key to the Revs’ turnaround doesn’t reflect well on Cropper.

Matt Lampson, LA Galaxy

By the numbers, Lampson may not be a good choice: he had only 90 minutes last year, and even as a part-time starter (nine games) for Minnesota the previous season, the numbers were just mediocre. However, he’s young enough at 30 to justify a senior-minimum contract.

He’s also a potential off-field boost that may make it worth his being the second or third keeper on a roster: a Tennessee native (there are extremely few of these at the USL level even, to say nothing of MLS) from the Chattanooga area, even though he grew up in Ohio, he’s also a cancer survivor with an eponymous foundation that is a good community fit for NSC.

Gregory Ranjitsingh, Orlando City SC

Ranjitsingh didn’t see a ton of shots (Orlando’s xGA defense was actually pretty decent), because he didn’t see a ton of minutes, but he performed well in the time he did get.

Given that he’s a familiar name for NSC fans (a former Louisville City starter), it may seem like he’s been around forever. But he’s only 26 years old, on a senior-minimum contract, and a Trinidad and Tobago international. NSC has valued international call-ups early in the build because they help increase visibility of the Nashville brand, potentially bring in new customers (though I don’t know that there’s a huge T&T market to capitalize on in Nashville), and increase future sell-on value.

Brad Stuver, New York City FC

Stuver had the best performance among available keepers in terms of Goals divided by expected goals (i.e. the percentage of expected goals he let in: 89%), he’s got more years left in him at just 28, and is on the lower end of compensation: $100,000 last season.

However, he also was not an every-game starter – or even regularly used keeper – in league play, with only 395 minutes on the year. There’s a fairly large element of risk in banking on a guy who has like 10 total games over six seasons in the league, and hoping he maintains that level of performance in a bigger role.

Of course, with his age and compensation rate, he could be a good value pick (or a value pick to immediately deal) nonetheless.


Joe Bendik, Philadelphia Union

Bendik was sold by the Crew mid-season when they acquired Eloy Room (after the Curaçaoan impressed in last Summer’s Gold Cup), and was only splitting time before that. He got no minutes for the Union, either.

If his contract can be re-negotiated – given that he’s likely to be willing to take a pay cut to get more playing time – and he’s not making $144k, it’s one thing. However, he turns 31 early next season, and there’s probably smarter value available in the Expansion Draft.

Eric Dick, Sporting Kansas City

Only got 90 minutes in 2019 and his numbers were bad in that time (but the “SKC 2019 was a nightmare” factor comes into play). Young (25), cheap (within a couple thousand bucks of Senior Minimum), and SKC connections to Mike Jacobs could make him a little more desirable.

Jon Kempin, Columbus Crew

Reasonably young (turning 27 next season) and cheap (close to Senior Minimum). However, not young enough to be a true youth pick, and way down the depth chart for Columbus last year – and proved that to be a good choice with poor performances whn he did see the field.

Brad Knighton, New England Revolution

The third wheel in the Revs’ keeper rotation before Turner seized the gig. The guy who’s lowest on the team in minutes and GA/xGA, and first in age (by eight years!) and compensation… well, if you want to take a New England keeper, Cropper is the better bet.

David Ousted Chicago Fire

Ousted was about-average in performance behind a Fire defense that was better than the experts think. However, he split time with Kenneth Kronholm (who was quite bad), and has a huge salary budget number (over $268k in guaranteed compensation, almost $100k more in total compensation). For a 35-year old with limited re-sale value, the juice is not worth the squeeze.

Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Toronto FC

Like Lampson, CPS gets the “Tennessee native” boost – and he’s even a local, from Hendersonville (where he runs a camp, though that’s… not allowed under the current MLS CBA). He’s close to a senior-minimum guy and could be a cheap option with positive PR as a third keeper. Of course, he hasn’t played at a high level in ages, so the on-field factor may be disqualifying.

Not enough data

These guys didn’t get a minute in 2019. Some of them have past history (of success or… not success), but if there were more recent data, it’d be a much more comfortable choice. As per typical, if there’s a market for one, flip it for as much as he’s worth.

Aljaz Ivacic, Portland Timbers
Alec Kann Atlanta United
Ben Lundgaard, Columbus Crew – still has one more year eligible for reserve roster
Ben Lundt, FC Cincinnati – still has one year eligible for reserve roster
Charlie Lyon, MLS pool 
Kendall Mcintosh, Portland Timbers
Bryan Meredith, Seattle Sounders FC


As with the other sections: if there’s a market to flip one of these guys, they’re not undraftable. I would be surprised if there were such a market, or I wouldn’t include them here. 

This part is easy:

Tim Howard, Colorado Rapids (retiring)
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (retiring)

This is less so:

Evan Bush, Montreal Impact

Turning 34 before the season begins, and is over $200k in budget charge. Also allowed 22% more goals than xGA would expect last season.

Richard Sanchez, Chicago Fire

Zero minutes in 2019, had an extremely poor performance as the starter in 2018.

Bobby Shuttleworth, Minnesota United

32, on a $175k salary, didn’t get a second on the field in 2019 (though he played well in 2018).

Andrew Tarbell, San Jose Earthquakes

Zero minutes in 2019, had an extremely poor performance as the starter in 2018.

Przemysław Tyton, FC Cincinnati

Tyton’s performances last year were mediocre-to-poor, but you could certainly give him the benefit of the doubt about playing behind one of the worst teams in MLS history. The problem? He’s also extremely expensive – most compensation outside of Howard and Ousted. You can get better players for a fraction of the price.


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