Who I'd Protect from NYCFC for the Expansion Draft
So if you didn’t see I recently dropped a MLS Expansion Draft blog breaking down the draft itself and what Inter Miami and Nashville SC are looking at heading into this. That was me blogging as a fan of the league and trying to be more informational for people. This blog is strictly NYCFC focused so you can’t say I didn’t warn you. This season there is a change to the number of players that a team can protect. Besides the HomeGrown and Generation Adidas players being automatically protected, NYCFC will be protecting 12 other guys. So let’s first look at our automatically protected players:
-MID Justin Haak (2 games played in 2019)
-DEF/MID James Sands (18 games played in 2019)
-DEF Joe Scally (0 games played in 2019)
Now, we won’t know for a few weeks who the 12 players that NYCFC will protect but if I had any say (which clearly I have all the say so NYCFC should be listening) this is who I think NYCFC should protect:
-GK Sean Johnson
-DEF Alex Callens
-DEF Maxime Chanot
-DEF Ronald Matarrita
-DEF Anton Tinnerholm
-DEF Sebastian Ibeagha
-MID Maxi Moralez
-MID Alex Ring
-FWD Valentin Castellanos
-WNG Alex Mitrita
-WNG Ismeal Tajouri-Shradi
Let’s break this down a bit. Looking at the goalkeepers, Sean Johnson is the easy call. No offense to Brad Stuver or Luis Barraza but I don’t think Inter Miami and Nashville SC will be going after them. Sean Johnson is a top talent GK in this league and we need to keep him on this roster. Defensively I saved a lot of players… I know that but for a good reason. Callens and Chanot were EASY calls, being one of the most underrated center-back pairings in MLS. It is also important to lock down our best full-backs in Ronald Matarrita and another underrated player in Anton Tinnerholm. I’ll get back to Ibeagha in a few lines. Let’s jump to the midfield where we don’t need to save Ebenezer Ofori or Keaton Parks who are on loan from Stuttgart and Benfica respectively. That made my two picks of Maxi and and Ring easy saves for 2020. Looking at the forwards and wingers I decided to go with Heber for his skill and star power, Taty for his rise as a youngster, Mitrita being a high caliber DP, and Tajouri-Shradi being a starting caliber player we have coming off the bench. Now I named 11 players, and here I am getting back to Ibeagha. I decided to pick Sebastian Ibeagha as my 12th player. I picked him over Gary Mackay-Steven, Jesus Medina, and Ben Sweat. To me it came down to this; Steven is not going to be taken by either expansion club, Medina is a DP that probably won’t be picked up because his production isn’t worth his DP contract, and to ME I’d rather lose Sweat then Ibeagha.
To me its comes down to this. If the 12 players that I named are protected there is only 1 legitimate target we could lose in this draft and that is Ben Sweat. Sweatinho is still on the right side of 30, he has been given 2 caps for the USMNT, over 50 MLS appearances, and can play either full-back position. I think Sweat could start for a team especially where the state of MLS full-backs is at right now. If NYCFC decides to save Sweat over Ibeagha, I feel what I just said could be swapped. Ibeagha has been such a nice piece filling in on the backline for NYCFC and has been a stud wherever he has played.
What do you think? Who do you think NYCFC should save?