MLS teams leave big names unprotected ahead of expansion draft
Major League Soccer will hold an expansion draft Wednesday so that the league's two newest teams, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, can begin building their rosters for the 2011 season, when they start play.
With that in mind, the other 16 MLS teams on Monday had to reveal which players they would leave exposed to the draft -- in other words, unprotected and available -- and there were more than a few surprising names on the combined list.
The Chicago Fire, for instance, left two designated players unprotected: Mexican international forward Nery Castillo and former Swedish international midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
Similarly, the Columbus Crew left Argentine playmaker and 2008 MLS most valuable player Guillermo Barros Schelotto available in the draft. Toronto FC also exposed its top playmaker, Canadian international Julian de Guzman.
Want a striker with a goal-scoring pedigree? The New York Red Bulls made Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel available.
Of course, the Timbers and Whitecaps will not have the kind of room under the salary cap (which MLS Commissioner Don Garber insists is not a cap but a "budget") to acquire all the big names that have been floated in front of them, but some key players could be heading to new clubs.
Each MLS team cannot lose more than two players, and once one is selected, the club can remove a player from its unprotected list. Portland and Vancouver will each draft 10 players.
There is a host of current and former U.S. World Cup players that can be selected in the expansion draft, including Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley, Columbus defender Frankie Hejduk, Sporting Kansas City forward Josh Wolff, Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter and New England Revolution defender Cory Gibbs, along with a host of other U.S. and Canadian national team players.
Chivas USA left defender Jonathan Bornstein exposed, but the U.S. World Cup player already has signed to play for the Tigres in Mexico next year. In all, Chivas left 15 players exposed.
In addition to Berhalter, the Galaxy left Alex Cazumba, Leonardo da Silva, Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski, Dema Kovalenko, Mike Magee, Yohance Marshall, Brian Perk and Josh Saunders unprotected.
-- Grahame L. Jones