Nashville SC

An insane man ranks things: 2019 Expansion Draft midfielders

Gedion Zelalem photo courtesy Sporting Kansas City

This is going to be a bit of a catch-all: I’ll do true wingers and central attacking midfielders in the next post, but this is basically the rest of the midfielders not already covered by the FB/WB post.

We’re going position-by-position and breaking down the Expansion Draft prospects.

The dataGoalkeeperCenterbackFB/WBMidfieldCAM/WingerForward

Now, onto the midfield. It’s worth noting that this is a position group NSC has already covered really well. For their specific purposes, some of the better players on this list aren’t going to be worth the money (though in a vacuum, they would be great picks). I’ll try to note when a guy makes more sense for NSC in specific rather than just generally.

As always, these evaluations are mostly face-value: if there’s a willing trade partner who wants a specific guy who wouldn’t otherwise be appealing, get him for a quick trade.

This one, I like

1. Tony Rocha, New York City FC

Rocha got just under 1000 minutes for one of the best defenses in the league, which isn’t bad for a guy close to the senior minimum salary. He’s also just 26, so he can get guidance from NSC’s more-experienced guys as Nashville transitions from veterans in the first couple years into the future.

2. Ken Krolicki, Montreal Impact

Although he got just under 600 minutes this season, Krolicki can be a value pick, since he’s still eligible for reserve-minimum wages (and was only a couple thousand bucks in GAM spend to get there last year). He played a small role for a strong defensive team in the Impact, and could be worth a flier for value.

3. Gedion Zelalem, Sporting Kansas City

What if I told you that Gedion Zelalem – written off as a USMNT bust like five years ago – was only 22, and eligible to be on the reserve minimum for at least two more years (obviously with the opportunity for the CBA to change these paradigms)? I’d be pretty interested, even if he only got about five games worth of action for a mediocre defense.

4. Peter-Lee Vassell, LAFC

This would be a risky pick, because Vassell got only 200 minutes this year. It’s also mostly irrelevant, because he’s like the sixth-most likely LAFC player to get selected. However, at just 21 and on a senior minimum contract, he’d be worth a pick, just like almost everyone else from LAFC.

5. Rasmus Schuller, Minnesota United

Schuller is fairly similar to Rocha – about 1000 minutes for a good defense – but he’s a few years older and significantly more expensive ($275k), so that sounds… like less value. However, he does add quite a bit more offensively, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

Good, with question marks

Carlos Ascues,  Orlando City SC

Got over 1200 minutes for a decent OCSC defense. Contributes a bit offensively. Probably not worth a $420k salary.

Luis Caicedo, New England Revolution

I would have guessed Caicedo was like 28, but he’s only 23, which provides all sort of upside. However, the Revs D was horrible as he put in 25000 minutes, and he doesn’t contribute much offensively. At $300k… probably not.

Servando Carrasco, LA Galaxy

Senior minimum players are always attractive here, and Carrasco carries the added bonus of being married to one of the best soccer players on the planet (and Alex Morgan is currently pregnant, so may not play in NWSL next Summer, providing more opportunities for Nashville to cynically capitalize on that fame – clearly I am not above this, folks). He got only 456 minutes for a poor Galaxy defense, though, and doesn’t contribute much offensively.

Warren Creavalle, Philadelphia Union

There are enough positives in Creavalle’s numbers – played for a good Union team, at 29 has a few years left – but when the negatives of being only a 420-minute guy6 for that Union team while still coming on a $162k contract might be a tough ask.

Cristian Higuita, Orlando City SC

Higuita carries a big budget charge not far below DP territory ($475k), but he is 25 and Colombian, both positives. Orlando City’s defense was better than it seemed, but the fact that he got fewer than 700 minutes in it is not promising.

Ebenezer Ofori, New York City FC

Just 24, got almost 1400 minutes in NYCFC’s great defense. However, contributes basically nothing offensively, and at $325k, you’d like to see a bit more, most likely.

Andy Polo, Portland Timbers

Polo got about 1200 minutes for Portland, and at 25 there’s still growth potential here. However, given that Portland’s defense was fairly awful, his time could be considered as damning as it is a credit to him, and $150k is not in the “draft him anyway” compensation range.

Justin Portillo, Real Salt Lake

RSL had a sneaky-good defense this year, but the fact that Portillo only managed to get about 200 minutes in it probably means that, at 27, he may never get there. Although he’s on a senior-minimum salary, the level of performance may not be there.

Renzo Zambrano, Portland Timbers

Pros: senior-minimum deal, only 25. Cons: got under 900 minutes in Portland’s extremely weak defense.


Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City

I’ve always liked Benny a lot, but not “pay a 35-year old 413 thousand US Dollars” liked him.

David Guzman, Columbus Crew

$300k salary and 29, not enough to say “1600 minutes in a mediocre defense is worth it.”

Will Johnson, Orlando City SC

32? $455k? Even for a decent contributor to a good Orlando D, those question marks are significant enough to say no.

Perry Kitchen, LA Galaxy

I like Kitchen, but $450k to get just 611 minutes for a bad defense? Nah.

Jeff Larentowicz, Atlanta United

He has a Gary Smith connection (which can always be helpful), but he’s 36 years old, and making $210k. Getting 1600 minutes probably won’t happen again as the tires start to wear down.

Haris Medunjanin, Philadelphia Union

I like Medunjanin a lot, but he’s a 34-year old DP. Probably not worth drafting here: low-upside, not a high-value pick.

Lee Nguyen, LAFC

It’s ridiculous that Nguyen was basically a luxury player for LAFC this year. Either way, a 33-year old near-DP isn’t worth it for an expansion team, most likely.

Lawrence Olum, Minnesota United

One of the best performers on this list when he played, IMO, and on a senior-minimum deal. But he’s 35 and played only 600 minutes last year.

Dillon Powers, Orlando City SC

Powers got only 673 minutes for Orlando City this year. As I’ve written above, that’s not damning, but for a guy making $200k, it’s probably not worth the pick.

Pablo Ruiz, Real Salt Lake

Just 20, but made $200k to not see the field.

Caleb Stanko, FC Cincinnati

$337k to get about 1500 minutes on a historically bad defense. It’s possible that a change of scenery to anywhere remotely functional may help, but that’s a major risk

Daniel Wilson, Colorado Rapids

Near-DP money as he contributed to a horrible Rapids defense.

Not enough data

Eric Calvillo, San Jose Earthquakes
Luis Felipe, San Jose Earthquakes
Alejandro Guido, LAFC
Ally Ng’Anzi, Minnesota United –
at least four more years of reserve eligibility
Kevin Partida, San Jose Earthquakes
Javi Perez,  LAFC – at least one more year of reserve eligibility
Juan Pablo Torres, New York City FC 


Emanuel Cecchini, Seattle Sounders FC

DP, didn’t play during loan stint with the Sounders.

Ricardo Clark, Columbus Crew

37 years old before the season begins.

Juninho, LA Galaxy

Hasn’t played in nearly three years.

Kevin Kratz, Atlanta United

A $210k USL player who is 32.

Luke Mulholland, Real Salt Lake

MLS vet but has barely played in the past three seasons.

Joao Pedro, LA Galaxy

240k, did not see the field.


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