Important Expansion Draft Decisions Loom For the Quakes

IMAGE: Noah Salzman/Wikipedia Commons

What is the Expansion Draft?

For those new to MLS, or the concept of the expansion draft: the draft is essentially a more fair way to distribute players from existing teams to the new teams being admitted into the league. The 2015 season marks the introduction of two new exciting clubs – NYCFC and Orlando City SC. The two teams will each get ten picks in the expansion draft, (alternating order with Orlando City going first) and each existing team will have the opportunity to protect 11 players from being picked by the expansion teams. If a member of an existing team is selected, the team gets to protect an additional player. Certain homegrown players are exempt from being picked , but for the most part, any unprotected player has the possibility of moving to a new club in the upcoming season.

Players to Protect

There are some obvious keepers for the Quakes going into this draft. The face of the franchise, striker Chris Wondolowski, won’t be going anywhere.

Four of the newcomers in the 2014 season: Jean Baptiste Pierazzi, designated player Matias Perez Garcia, Jordan Stewart, and Clarence Goodson will also likely be protected for the draft. Pierazzi showed some promise in the midfield, and the Quakes will definitely want to give him some more opportunities to play. Pierazzi has a relatively high base salary of $240,000, which means that the front office was willing to pay a higher price to get Pierazzi, and will probably want to keep him. Clarence Goodson, who has 46 caps with the USMNT, had his 2014 season ended early with a toe injury. Goodson’s defensive ability will certainly be useful for the Quakes in the 2015 season. Jordan Stewart, who has experience in the Premier League and League One in England, had a solid year and will be a key part of the Quakes back line in 2015. Argentian Matias Perez Garcia, the club’s third ever designated player, will also be undoubtedly protected.

Honduran MNT regular Victor Bernardez is another obvious one. “Bic Vic” has 78 caps for Honduras, and has been a stud in the Quakes back line since 2012. Shea Salinas has bounced around in these expansion drafts previously in his career, but I think that his speed and potential for playmaking ability will drive the Quakes to protect him this year. Salinas had a few bright spots in a 2014 contest that was overall disastrous for the Quakes, and there are not many other obvious options to replace him.

There was some confusion as to whether or not David Bingham would be automatically protected or not, but an article from MLSSoccer.com confirmed that Bingham would no longer be protected. (because he graduated from the Generation Adidas program) Bingham is one of the more talented young goalkeepers in the MLS, and it might be time for the Quakes to move on from Jon Busch, who is currently 38 years old.Bingham has only played in 5 games in his time with San Jose, and has won 4 of the 5.

Young Players

Adam Jahn, JJ Koval, and Cordell Cato are the Quakes best young players. Despite being only 22 or 23 years old, the three have shown a lot of promise on the field. Stanford soccer product Adam Jahn helped lead Quakes affiliate USL Pro team Sacramento Republic FC to a championship – beating out 2015 MLS club Orlando City SC and many other quality clubs. Koval, the former Stanford Cardinal as well, has also shown a lot of potential in the midfield. He too spent some time with Sac Republic FC, and the Quakes will definitely want to remain committed to young players like him. Cato has spent valuable time with the Trinidadian national team, and has played well in the midfield for his age. He has a lot of potential, and the Quakes will certainly want to see what else Cato can do.  Out of the three young players, Cato seems to be the most MLS-everyday ready. The Quakes will definitely want to protect these three young players.

Players Not To Protect

USMNT U-20 star Tommy Thompson is exempt from being picked in the draft, seeing as Thompson is a homegrown player.  Kris Tyrpak was selected 9th overall in the Chivas USA dispersal draft by the Quakes. Tyrpak was passed up on by both NYCFC, who had the 2nd pick, and Orlando City SC, who had the 7th pick. The two clubs will probably be more interested in using their 10 picks on different players if they passed up on him the first time around.

Bubble Players

There are some players that the Quakes would probably like to have return, but may not necessarily be worth spending the protection on. Yannik Djalo is one of the biggest questions going into the 2015 season.If the Quakes can have a healthy Djalo up front with Wondo, along with Tommy Thompson and MPG in the midfield, we could see a deadly attack from San Jose in the coming season. But does Djalo want to stay in the MLS?  If Djalo is willing to stay in the MLS, and not go back to Portugal, he should definitely be protected by the Quakes. Despite the fact that he battled a lot of injury this year, he showed a lot of great playmaking ability in the attacking half when he was healthy.

Steven Lenhart has had his fair share of great moments in San Jose; including the stoppage time winner on Steven Lenhart Wig Night at Buck Shaw, and plenty of other amazing  moments n the 2012 “Goonies” season. But with the trade of Alan Gordon to the LA Galaxy later in the 2014 season, it seems as though the Quakes trying to stray away from the strategy that Lenhart and Gordon bring to the table. Lenhart has also had some non-soccer related injuries in the past couple years, that the Quakes would probably rather not deal with. I’d say that it’d be best to leave Lenhart unprotected. There is a decent chance he remains unpicked in the draft, given his reputation for being a scrapper, so this may not necessarily mean goodbye.

Sam Cronin is another tough one. Cronin has been with the team since 2010, and has had some excellent moments with the Quakes. He was a key member of the 2012 Supporters Shield winning team, and he has been one of the most consistent players in the midfield, but it may be time for the Quakes to move on. The acquisition of Matias Perez Garcia further justifies not protecting Cronin, because the designated player simply has far better playmaking ability and striking ability compared to Cronin. With the emergence of young midfielders Tommy Thompson, Cordell Cato, and JJ Koval, there may not be room for in the starting 11 anymore. Again, not protecting Cronin may not necessarily mean that he will be packing his bags, but there is a good chance.

Jason Hernandez has been with the club since 2008, when the team was recreated in San Jose. He has worn the captains arm band for the Quakes at times, and he has also been a part of a lot of great moments. It would be great to have Hernandez back next year, but the Quakes simply will have other priorities in the expansion draft. Hernandez has not done anything wrong, but the other 11 players are more important to protect for the team.

Jon Busch had a sensational season, despite the fact that the Quakes struggled so much. He was forced to make the most saves in the MLS and faced the most shots as well. However, Busch is 38 years old, and it may be time to invest in the younger David Bingham. Should Busch remain unprotected in the draft, he may still be around next year, seeing as NYCFC and Orlando City SC will probably not be interested in picking up a 38 year old goalkeeper. It would be nice to have both Bingham and Busch, just in case things do not go well for Bingham initially.

FINAL LIST

  1. Chris Wondolowski
  2. Matias Perez Garcia
  3. Clarence Goodson
  4. Jordan Stewart
  5. Victor Bernardez
  6. Adam Jahn
  7. JJ Koval
  8. David Bingham
  9. Shea Salinas
  10. Sam Cronin
  11. Cordell Cato (If Djalo wants to return, then bump Cato and everyone below down one)

Backups

  1. Jason Hernandez
  2. Jean Baptiste Pierazzi
  3. Jon Busch
  4. Steven Lenhart

Unprotected

  1. Tommy Thompson (exempt)
  2. Kris Tyrpak
  3. Pablo Pintos
  4. Shaun Francis
  5. Atiba Harris
  6. Billy Schuler
  7. Khari Stephenson
  8. Tommy Muller
  9. Michael Fucito
  10. Ty Harden
  11. Billy Knusten
  12. Bryan Meredith
  13. Andreas Gorlitz

Anay Patel

I have been a lifelong Quakes fan, and founded Quakes Epicenter in November of 2014. I have been credentialed to cover the Quakes since the 2015 season, and currently serves as the lead editor of the website. Outside of the Quakes, I am currently a student at the University of Southern California studying Computer Science and Business Administration.

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