It’s here! We now know who Nashville SC will protect – and leave unprotected – in advance of St. Louis City’s Expansion Draft tomorrow evening.
M Brian Anunga, D Josh Bauer, F Teal Bunbury, D Robert Castellanos, M Koze Donasiyano, M Luke Haakenson, F Aké Loba, D Ahmed Longmire, M Dax McCarty, GK Bryan Meredith, GK Will Meyer, D Eric Miller, W Alex Muyl, GK Elliot Panicco, W Rodrigo Piñeiro, D Taylor Washington
And the protected:
M Sean Davis, M Anibal Godoy, W Randall Leal, D Dan Lovitz, D Jack Maher, D Shaq Moore, F Hany Mukhtar, W Fafa Picault, D Dave Romney, F CJ Sapong, GK Joe Willis, D Walker Zimmerman
In addition to automatically protected Homegrowns:
M Handwalla Bwana, W Jacob Shaffelburg, F Ethan Zubak
(Though Nashville hasn’t yet officially announce Shaffelburg’s permanent signing from Toronto FC, they’ll pick up his Homegrown rights and automatic protection when that announcement is made).
There are some interesting ones: St. Louis natives Jack Maher and Joe Willis won’t be tempting for STL City (which is probably a big part of why they’re protected here), so no reunion between Maher and his younger brother Joey, who is in the St. Louis academy. Many of the players that Nashville left exposed are those that they may really not lose sleep over if they were to lose them, though the likes of Dax McCarty (age and salary combination makes him a tough ask for an expansion club) and a couple others are left unprotected because NSC is willing to bet St. Louis wouldn’t draft them anyway. The fact that there are basically no surprises among the 12 protected players gives you indication of why there are some in the unprotected list – with only 12 slots, it’s a bit of a zero-sum game.
If I’m St. Louis, I think about (in addition to fried ravioli and insane ways to slice bagels) Donasiyano, Haakenson, Miller, Muyl, and Panicco, and give some rudimentary kicking o’ the tires to some of the other guys depending on fit (I’ll admit to not having looked at their roster in-depth to see who they’d likely select – I know they have a DP foreign-slot goalkeeper, about which LOL, and not much else).
The expansion draft takes place at 6 p.m. CST tomorrow evening, and St. Louis gets five picks (and can’t pick from the same club twice). Teams that lose a player get $50k in GAM as compensation (and can’t have a player selected when the next round of expansion occurs – Austin, Atlanta, DC United, LAFC, and NYCFC are the exempt teams this year).
In its own expansion draft prior to the 2020 season, Nashville SC selected Abu Danladi, Zarek Valentin (traded for Joe Willis), Jalil Anibaba, Brandon Vazquez (traded for $150k GAM), and Jimmy Medranda. Two of them never played for the club, and none of them made it to year three of the franchise’s MLS history.