Inter Miami Selects Two in the 2020 MLS Superdraft presented by adidas

MIAMI, Fla. (January 9, 2019) —

With the first overall pick, Inter Miami selected the 2019 Mac Hermann winning striker Robbie Robinson, 21, from Clemson University. With the third pick, they went with the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s champion full-back Dylan Nealis, 21, from Georgetown University. 

More on today’s selections including sporting director Paul McDonough’s assessment and what to expect next on Inter Miami Hoy.

MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas – Jan 9 & 13, 2020

MIAMI, Fla. (January 8, 2019) —

This year’s crop of talent coming through once again has a good number of talented players, a few of whom could thrive and prosper in MLS given the right opportunity.

First round coverage of the draft will be streamed live at 12:30 pm ET on the ESPN app, as well as through ESPN social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The broadcast will feature real-time look-ins on club draft rooms and draftee reactions, as well as analysis from Taylor Twellman, Adrian Healey, Matt Doyle and special guests.

For more information and a look at who the top players are, click on the below:

Tune in here on Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 12:30 pm ET to watch the MLS Superdraft presented by adidas.

No.TeamNameUniversity. Pos.
1Robbie RobinsonClemsonF
2Jack MaherIndianaCB
3Dylan NealisGeorgetownRB
4Ryan RaposoSyracuse M
5Daryl DikeVirginiaF
6Henry KesslerVirginiaCB
7Miguel BerryU. San DiegoF
8Garrett McLaughlinSo. Methodist F
9Jeremy Kelly – traded to ColoradoNorth CarolinaRB
10
via trade with Chicago
Patrick Seagrist
MarquetteLB
11via trade with Colorado
Alistair Johnston
Wake ForestRB
12Tanner BeasonStanfordLB/CB
13via trade with New England
Elliott Panicco
CharlotteGK
14Nkosi BurgessSeattleCB
15Cherif Dieye (🇸🇳)LouisvilleW
16Aaron Malloy (🇮🇪)Penn StateDM
17 Cal JenningsCentral FloridaF
18Noah BillingsleyUC Santa BarbaraLB
19Nyal HigginsSyracuseD
20Dayonn HarrisConnecticut RW
21via trade with Philadelphia
Simon Lefebvre
TempleGK
22Jesus PerezIllinois-ChicagoM
23Patrick Nielsen (🇩🇰)Michigan StateD
24Paulo PitaMarshallGK
25Ifunanyachi Achara (🇳🇬)Georgetown F
26Jonathan JimenezPacificLB
OrderTeamNameUniversityPos.
27Jack SkahanNorth CarolinaW
28Tanner DieterichClemsonM
29Rey OrtizPortlandF
30Simon LekressnerCaliforniaD
31Joey DeZartWake Forest M
32Daniel GagliardiFIUGK
33Malick MbayeClemsonD
34Luka PrpaMarquetteM
35Danny ReynoldsUNC WilmingtonD
36Wallis LapsleyUC DavisGK
37Robin AfamefunaVirginiaD
38Jon BellUMBCD
39Jonathan DeanCentral FloridaD
40Manuel FerriolJames MadisonM
41Deri CorfeWright StateF
42Josh FawoleLoyolaF
43 Keegan MeyerHigh PointGK
44Austin AvizaProvidenceGK
45Tom SmartAkronD
46Michael WetunguMichigan StateD
47Remi PrieurSaint Mary’s Col.GK
48Felicien DumasNotre DameD
49Danny GriffinProvidenceM
50Jack HallahanMichiganM
51Simon WaeverIndianaD
52Timo MehlichUNLVM

CBA Talks Between MLS and MLSPA: What Is At Stake?

MIAMI, Fla. (January 4, 2020) —

Part I: The biggest thing that will happen this off-season

Right now, fans of MLS clubs are getting ready for the coming season, the league’s 25th anniversary year. New teams like Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC are now less than 60 days away from their first real matches. The primary MLS transfer window opens on February 12th, and the European winter transfer window is now open and runs until January 31st in the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Germany, among other countries. There will be countless discussions about player signings and trades, and MLS will have its Superdraft along with other roster management as teams try to gear up for next season.

That said, the biggest story of this MLS off-season is one that soccer fans in the US and Canada are probably not paying attention to: the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the MLSPA (the players union) and the league.

The CBA affects every player from every team in MLS. On January 31, the league’s existing collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between MLS and the MLS Players Association will expire. The goal of course is to come to agreement on a new deal. In fact, both sides have been engaged in negotiations for months already. As with any negotiations between a union and management, if an agreement can’t be struck before the start of the season, the league faces the prospect of a work stoppage.

The fallout from whatever the new CBA looks like will have lasting implications for the league.

Back on December 5th, MLS commissioner Don Garber spoke to reporters following the third and final MLS Board of Governors meeting. As was the case at the SoccerEx USA 2019 Conference I attended in late November, the commissioner was questioned about the status of the negotiations.

Garber has declined to get into any specifics regarding CBA negotiations between the league and the MLS Players Association. He did, however, confirm on both occasions that the sides are currently engaged in talks and were meeting. Regarding the nature of those discussions, here’s what he had to say: 

“You know, I think there’s a desire from both parties to reach an agreement. I don’t think any league or players’ union goes into a negotiation without the hope and the expectation that you’re going to reach a deal and then start the season on time. All CBA negotiations are difficult, but with us, it’s not about taking things away, it’s how do we manage collectively as a league and as a player group to be able to provide more resources in a wide variety of areas that are manageable for ownership and acceptable to the players. I’ve been through it many times before. … It’s not the most fun part of the job, but I’ve got hope and confidence that we’ll be able to reach a new deal.”

What’s The Backdrop To The Discussions?

The negotiations for a new CBA are also set against the backdrop of the exponential growth MLS has experienced since the the last CBA was executed in 2015. At that time, the league had 20 teams. MLS will begin next season with 26, with another four (Austin, Charlotte, Sacramento and Saint Louis) set to join in the following two years. MLS expansion fees are now at least $200 million. Investor/Owners are making sizable commitments to build new soccer-specific stadiums. Off the field, they are also spending large sums to build state-of-the-art training facilities. Player salaries have also risen, in part due to the implementation of targeted allocation money (“TAM”) having the effect of increasing the salary budget for each team by $4 million a year. These factors have led to the average MLS team being worth around $313 million according to Forbes, an increase of 30 % since 2017 alone.

The league now has 24 partners, and signed new deals in 2019 with Captain Morgan, Headspace and MGM Resorts International. In addition, while the next CBA is in effect, MLS will be approving a new media rights deal that is expected to be worth substantially more than what the league recrives from its existing media rights partners. This commercial growth is a factor in the CBA negotiations – the MLSPA is given full transparency into the league’s business deals. “We have made detailed proposals to the league on how to deal with that [media rights] issue,” said MLSPA executive director Bob Foose.

With the league in growth mode, a failure to agree to a new CBA could result in a work stoppage. This scenario is one which both sides wish to avoid.

Here are the main issues for the league and its players to decide.

Issues For MLSPA

The core issues for the players association heading into the 2020 season include higher wages for players, a reworking of the current free agency system that creates a more open market free agency system consistent with other North American professional sports leagues, and more charter flights for teams. The MLSPA believes that the benefits of the league’s growth and the increased investment should naturally flow in part to the players.

Take the aforementioned media rights deal for example. The existing contracts that MLS has with its national broadcast partners ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision bring MLS $90 million a year. The current deal will expire at the end of 2022, meaning a new media rights deal will be approved in the middle of any new CBA. It is expected that the next media rights deal for the 2023 season will be worth significantly more. This is a complicated topic to factor into a new CBA, but something the union is eager to do.

Free Agency

The issue also came up at the last negotions prior to the current CBA. Simply stated, the union seeks more free agency. In the 2015 negotiations, the players won a small amount of free agency, and as a result, under the current CBA, players who are at least 28 years old and who have played in the league at least eight years can be free agents when their contracts expire. They can also receive raises of only between 15% and 25%, depending on their salary level.

Under the current free agency rules, many players in MLS never qualify for free agency. The union wants both the age and time of service requirements to be lowered and wants the cap on salary increases removed or at least raised considerably.

Salary Budget Rules

Anyone who has studied the salary budget rules would likely agree that they are complex; one practically needs a law degree to decipher them. The MLSPA aims to have MLS’ salary budget rules simplified.

While the owners have increased player salaries during the existing CBA, which is viewed by the union as a positive, the MLSPA has always been troubled by the introduction of targeted allocation money (“TAM”) in 2015.

Indeed, it seems that TAM may be the biggest issue, and perhaps the hardest one to agree on, in the current contract negotiations. This type of allocation money is given by the league to clubs and can only be used to help cover salaries for players making between $530,000 and $1.5 million. As a result, using TAM cannot be used for the majority of MLS players, who are categorised by MLS’ salary budget rules into senior, supplemental and reserve roster ‘slots’ that have specific limits on what those players can make. According to salary data made available by the MLSPA, 37.4% of the players make annual salaries under $100,000.

The union has a completely negative view of TAM and wants the league to allow its teams greater autonomy in terms of how they build their rosters, rather than have rules dictated by league headquarters. “We should stop being a league where you design a competitive football league in a boardroom. It should be done by the people who know the game,” said Foose.

”The impact of TAM, a made-up set of restrictions done from a central office to try and dictate to all of our franchises how they build their rosters, in my estimation didn’t really add anything to this league,” Foose said. ”And it’s certainly frustrated and angered both the players association and our players.”

“In the simplest terms, TAM is silly. It’s not necessary to try and tell our front offices how to sign players; they’re perfectly capable of doing that themselves. And frankly, if they’re not, then they should suffer the consequences, and that’s the kind of accountability that we want to see happen.”

Bob Foose, Executive Director, MLSPA

The union’s argument is that simplifying the rules would lead to more of a meritocracy: players’ earnings would be a reflection of how they have performed on the pitch.

Charter Flights

The union seeks increased spending on charter flights. At present, the vast majority of teams fly commercially, which can lead to long travel days, especially when teams are flying through multiple time zones. Teams are allowed only four discretionary charter flights a year, but there is no mandate that they have to use them. Take one case as an example:

The Philadelphia Union’s journey back and forth from Vancouver was an odyssey that lasted all day Thursday and Sunday. The Union took 10 hours to get out to Vancouver through commercial flights, while they woke up at 4:45 a.m. Pacific Time on Sunday to start a journey back to Philadelphia, via Toronto, that didn’t bring the team back home until 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Alejandro Bedoya, who is captain and a winger on the Philadelphia Union, has been one of the players who has spoken out about the lack of charter flights in the league. Bedoya recalled how his team didn’t use a single charter flight during the regular season. According to the players association, at the end of 2018, only about half of the available charter flights were used.

Professional athletes place rigorous demands on their bodies. Being stuffed into an economy seat on a long flight can hamper a player’s physical recovery. With MLS spanning the continent across two countries, travel conditions can also increase the risk of a player being more susceptible to injury. Moreover, frequent flight delays and cancellations disrupt both training and post-game recovery.

“We’re at a time where I think we need to take the training wheels off,” Bedoya said. “The league has moved on so far.”

Bedoya said the charter flight issue is one he’s going to voice his opinion on. “I’m going to be a part of it,” Bedoya said. “I’m going to voice my opinions and what I think. We’re united. We’re having meetings here and there so that’s good. For me, this is one of the crucial things we need to get to the next level.” 

The players feel very strongly about this issue. It’s difficult to imagine this being a “hill to die on” issue for the MLSPA, but Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said, “This is one piece of the pie for us, a very important piece, a commonsense piece, but one that we’re taking very seriously.”

Portland Timbers charter home from 2015 MLS Cup. | Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

“It’s unfortunate that this is discussed in a CBA context, because this isn’t a CBA issue,” Bob Foose said. “It isn’t in other sports and shouldn’t be in ours. It is an infrastructure issue and is tied to player performance.”

MLSPA Executive Director Bob Foose delivered an end-of-the-season video message on November 9, 2019. He thanked fans for their support and talked about the coming off-season, highlighting the importance of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations with MLS and explaining players’ priorities. He said he hoped that a work stoppage would not happen, but left that as a possibility.

Issues For MLS

From the league’s perspective, their primary objective is a familiar one: a level of cost certainty as it pertains to player expenses. This is something the league has effectively managed through it single-entity limited liability company structure, whereby player contracts are actually entered into between the player and the league rather than with an individual club. Furthermore, in most instances teams retain the MLS rights of players even after that player has been transferred or his contract has expired.

In addition to maintaining cost certainty with respect to player expenses, MLS also wants control over where that money goes. The introduction of TAM is evidence of this, whereby teams may spend more on players only within a specific salary range. The league maintains TAM allows teams to attract new and retain current players. They feel that TAM has been successful, and MLS wants to retain that discretionary control as to where investments are made. Whether the league could have gotten to where it is without TAM is unknown, and the league doesn’t sound as if it is ready to find out.

In December 2017, Major League Soccer announced a substantial increase in TAM, touting the influx of millions of dollars into the league’s roster spending. What’s noteworthy is that the increase was unanimously approved by the MLS Board of Governors. There is genuine debate about whether a divide is growing between owners who want to increase spending and those who want to slow down. Owners now entering the league are doing so by undertaking a considerable investment – the Charlotte bid, headed by Carolina Panthers owner and billionaire David Tepper, paid a reported $325 million entry fee, by far the most of any team in league history. Sacramento paid $200 million. This is a considerable risk and in addition to the expansion fee itself come salaries and hundreds of millions to build a training facility and stadium. Miami’s planned Freedom Park and Soccer Village will be a billion dollar investment, on top of the millions being spent on its training facility and temporary stadium thirty-five miles to the north in Fort Lauderdale.

With owners committing what can be a half a billion dollars or more before their team so much as kicks a ball, there is the expectation of seeing a return on that investment, and some believe the league must increase expenditures in its on-field product in order to drive higher revenues. But other owners are more cautious – they believe there is no proof higher spending will lead to those higher revenues. Instead, these owners would prefer to pursue “strategic growth.” What the eventual CBA looks like will tell us something about which group of owners has more influence. 

“There are a variety of different areas that will be the subject of discussion as to where we should be making investments, whether it’s the senior team, whether it’s player development, whether it’s on other benefits,” MLS president and deputy commissioner Marc Abbott told ESPN. “And in the CBA what we’re seeking to do is within the limits of what we’re able to spend that we ensure that we’re allocating those expenditures in the areas that are most likely to have the most impact.”

The charter flight issue comes down to money. Don Garber has previously indicated there is room for negotiation in this area. It won’t come cheap. The biggest reason why MLS doesn’t use more charter flights comes down to cost. It has been estimated that it would cost $20 million per year for the league, and roughly $1 million per team. The cost of flying an entire team on a charter flight, plus the price of fuel, can quickly add up. Each flight could cost a team upwards of $150,000 per charter.

Will an agreement be reached or will there be a work stoppage?

Historically, the union and the league have been able to avoid a work stoppage, although the last time Major League Soccer negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with its union, both sides braced for a work stoppage just 72 hours before the 2015 season was scheduled to begin. Professional mediators were also needed to help the two sides hash out an agreement. The league wouldn’t budge from its final offer, one the union insisted it would not accept. The players voted against the offer and a strike appeared imminent. It was averted only because the union surrendered.

“The league isn’t seeking to have a work stoppage, and based on the discussions we’ve been having with the union, we don’t think they are either,” said Mark Abbott. “I think both we and the union are working in good faith to reach an agreement to extend the CBA. That being said, we certainly recognize that you can’t eliminate entirely the possibility of work stoppage and we’ve been working with our teams over the course of the last year to ensure that they’re prepared and that we’re prepared in case that happened. Again, it’s not something that we’re seeking.”

”We and our players are focused on doing everything possible to reach an agreement that’ll make sense for ownership and makes sense for the players,” Garber told The Associated Press in November.

Despite the difficult CBA negotiations, the MLSPA is confident an agreement will be reached. There are 130 players now a part of the MLSPA, representing about 20% of the league.

The MLS Players Association leadership insists players are serious and ready to strike if demands aren’t met.

“We’ve been talking about and preparing for work stoppage for two and a half years now,” Foose said. “At this point, talking about the details of what that would look like and how we would proceed, and how we would all work together, the players are very serious when they say they’re ready to do what’s best for the full player pool and the future of the [players’ association] and the league.”

Resolving or at least improving the charter flights situation for players is but one piece of a larger equation, according to the MLSPA, and there will not be an agreement if other requests by the union are shoved aside.

A strike however obviously would harm the players more than owners. After all, MLS’ billionaire owners can withstand losing revenue to a much greater degree than players can cope with missing paychecks. According to the latest data available (2018) the MLSPA has total assets of $10.5 million, a figure considered low in comparison to the other major North American sports reflection of not only how relatively young the union is. Compared that figure to the National Basketball Players Association, which has total assets of more than $200 million.

If there was a work stoppage, that $10.5 million would disappear pretty quickly. Foose pointed out that union funds are not the only resource players can tap into should there be a work stoppage. He says the players have been preparing on their own as well. “We obviously don’t have the luxury that some of the other [players’ associations] have with an extra zero in [their] resources,” Foose told ESPN. “But we certainly have plenty of money to do what needs to be done on the [players’ association] side of things.”

The union has also had multiple conversations with other major sports leagues on a variety of topics to help prepare for this round of negotiations.

Foose had stated previously that the league has been fully transparent in terms of its financials at the league, team and SUM [Soccer United Marketing] level. He has no doubt that MLS is leveling with the union on this topic. He added, “We also have a common understanding with them on the cost of various proposals, so we’re clear on what the changes that we’re seeking are going to cost.”

Despite the very clear issues and differences, it is in both sides’ best interest to find workable solutions and a new CBA each side can live with. “We understand exactly where the business is, and I think we have a very good feel for where it’s going,” Foose said. “And we have no incentive to damage that.” With a 25th anniversary season approaching, there’s a lot at stake.

What’s the timeline?

The ideal time to reach agreement on a new CBA is this month.

Teams are putting their rosters together and training camps are opening soon. Sporting Directors and GMs need to know if there will be roster rules changes that will affect how they assemble their teams.

The Concacaf Champions League round of 16 begins on February 18-19, and the MLS teams competing in that tournament (Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, New York City FC, Seattle Sounders, and the Montréal Impact) could potentially have their games affected.

The hard deadline for a new CBA is the start of the MLS season, which will take place on the weekend of February 29-March 1st.

“If things don’t move more quickly and [the league] takes the same approach that was taken the last time through, the odds of a stoppage skyrocket, so hopefully that won’t be the case,” says Foose. “A strategy to run out the clock is not going to be looked upon favourably by the player pool or the [players’ association].”

What happens now?

Both sides are certainly being very hush about progress. The issues and the parties’ respective positions on them have been laid out. According to reports there have been proposals exchanged.

With January here, it’s time to get serious. Before a ball is even kicked, the next few weeks could be the most important ones of 2020.

Espanyol Is Growing Brand Through International Academies

MIAMI, Fla. (January 6, 2019) —

In order to grow the club as a global brand, Real Club Deportivo Espanyol de Barcelona is developing a network of academies around the world.

The newest such fútbol school has opened in Brisbane, Australia.

This internationalisation model kicked off in the 2016/17 season with the launch of two academies and the growth has been gradual since then, reaching the curen position of 11 RCDE Academy sites.

Albert Saus is the manager of the club’s schools and academies department, He had this to say: “We work to create quality local projects around the world and the academy is at the heart of that. We have now reached Oceania, in the city of Brisbane, through an academy that will start activity at the beginning of February 2020.”

RCD Espanyol de Barcelona look at its academy not simply as a place to groom future players but literally as an extension of its brand. The club is creating a global model, opening centres around the world that will introduce the club not just to new players, but to create lifelong fans.

Global academies and football camps

The objective of these academies is to take the identity of RCD Espanyol de Barcelona academy to new territories, where boys and girls between the ages of four and 15 can improve their skills and the 119-year story of the club can be shared.

With the academy in Brisbane, the club is now present across all continents. In addition to Brisbane, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona is also based in Algiers and Tizi Ouzou (Algeria), in Saitama (Japan), in Jersey City, New Jersey (USA), in Baghdad (Iraq), in Helsinki (Finland), in Stockholm (Sweden) and in Shanghai, Shouguang and Hunan (China).

In total, RCD Espanyol has 1,085 boys and girls are training with the club.

In addition to the network of academies, Espanyol has created a football camps program.

Associated with the academies, the RCDE Football Camps consist of standalone training events designed to engage new playing talent around the world. When this project started three years ago, the club held six camps abroad. This year, 29 have already been held. Extending its global reach further, these camps have been carried out in Canada, The USA, Colombia, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Kazakhstan and Japan, among others.

RCD Espanyol de Barcelona now has the second most academies in La Liga that are supervised by club directors.

Growth in China

RCD Espanyol has invested greatly in China. The Catalan side has three of its international academies in the country. Alongside its Chinese ownership, this year’s signing of Chinese forward Wu Lei has helped to boost the club’s standing and presence here. It opened its third academy in China in the months following the signing as interest in the club grew rapidly. In addition, a new RCD Espanyol de Barcelona fan club was established in Shanghai.

It was a goal that gave Espanyol a 2-2 draw with Catalan rivals Barcelona, one which will have delighted the masses following back home in China, where Wu’s career is followed closely as the only player from his country to ply his trade in one of Europe’s top five leagues.


Saus explained: “Since [club owners] Rastar Group arrived at the club, our international presence has accelerated, although not only in China. The signing of Wu Lei helped us on the pitch and he also became an ambassador for the club in China. This goes in tandem with the three club academies in China.”

Consolidation in North America and other opportunities

Outside of Asia, the club maintains significant ambitions for growth and is working on consolidating its presence in North America. At the same time, it is also studying opportunities in India and possibly Central Africa.

Espanyol’s strategy definitely brings people from around the world closer to the club. “We want to build brand identity through our youth football because that helps to generate a sense of belonging,” Saus says. “We are seeing more and more members of our international programs joining our club in Spain or becoming fans, which increases our global network significantly.”

Russo Law and Soccer Briefs offers a quick glance on stories making news in the world of football.

MLS Rosters As 2020 Begins

MIAMI, Fla. (December 30, 2019) —

With the Expansion Draft in the rearview mirror and every MLS team announcing its roster moves this week, we can now take stock on where all 26 MLS teams stand heading into the winter.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, Miguel Ibarra and Roman Torres are just some of the players in search of new clubs next season after leaving their MLS clubs this winter.

Some players have already made big offseason moves, including Luis Robles moving to Inter Miami, Sacha Kljestan returning home to join the LA Galaxy, and Brooks Lennon heading to Atlanta United to name a few.

We have also seen some big-name veterans signing new deals with their long-time clubs, including Diego Valeri in Portland and Michael Bradley with Toronto FC.

Among the most recent moves were, the New England Revolution signed Polish striker Adam Buksa as a new designated player, while the Columbus Crew landed their playmaker in Argentine playmaker Lucas Zelarayan and the Vancouver Whitecaps added a top striker in Lucas Cavallini.

With a busy offseason continuing to push forward this week, here’s an updated look at every MLS team’s current roster heading into 2020, and every player currently under contract for the upcoming season.

(UPDATED through December 29th)

Atlanta United

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Alec Kann, Brendan Moore.

Defenders: George Bello, George Campbell, Franco Escobar, Jon Gallagher, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Jeff Larentowicz, Miles Robinson.

Midfielders: Mo Adams, Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton, Luiz Fernando, Julian Gressel, Emerson Hyndman, Brooks Lennon, Eric Remedi.

Forwards: Lagos Kunga, Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, Dion Pereira, Hector Villalba.

Chicago Fire

Goalkeepers: Kenneth Kronholm, Gabriel Slonina.

Defenders: : Jonathan Bornstein, Francisco Calvo, Johan Kappelhof, Marcelo, Andre Reynolds II, Nicholas Slonina.

Midfielders: Micheal Azira, Brandt Bronico, Raheem Edwards, Przemysław Frankowski, Jeremiah Gutjahr, Fabian Herbers, Álvaro Medran, Djordje Mihailovic.

Forward: CJ Sapong.

FC Cincinnati

Goalkeepers: Jimmy Hague, Ben Lundt, Spencer Richey, Przemysław Tyton.

Defenders: Zico Bailey, Mathieu Deplagne, Greg Garza, Logan Gdula, Andrew Gutman, Nick Hagglund, Hassan Ndam, Maikel van der Werff, Kendall Waston.

Midfielders: Fatai Alashe, Frankie Amaya, Leonardo Bertone, Allan Cruz, Joe Gyau, Tommy McCabe, Haris Medunjanin, Caleb Stanko.

Forwards: Fanendo Adi, Rashawn Dally, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks.

Colorado Rapids

Goalkeeper: Clint Irwin, Andre Rawls.

Defenders: Lalas Abubakar, Sebastian Anderson, Kortne Ford, Drew Moor, Abdul Rwatubyaye, Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, Sam Vines, Danny Wilson, Deklan Wynne.

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta, Cole Bassett, Nicolas Mezquida, Jack Price.

Forwards: Matt Hundley, Kei Kamara, Jonathan Lewis, Niki Jackson, Sam Nicholson, Diego Rubio, Andre Shinyashiki.

Columbus Crew

Goalkeepers: Jon Kempin, Matt Lampson, Eloy Room

Defenders: Chris Cadden, Waylon Francis, Hector Jimenez, Aboubacar Keita, Jonathan Mensah, Axel Sjöberg, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Vito Wormgoor.

Midfielders: Artur, Luis Diaz, Youness Mokhtar, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos, Wil Trapp, Lucas Zelarayan

Forwards: Jordan Hamilton, JJ Williams, Gyasi Zardes

FC Dallas

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, Jimmy Maurer, Kyle Zobeck.

Defenders: Bressan, Ryan Hollingshead, John Nelson, Callum Montgomery, Reto Ziegler, Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges,

Midfielders: Bryan Acosta, Pablo Aranguiz, Santiago Mosquera, Michael Barrios, Edwin Cerrillo, Jacori Hayes, Brandon Servania, Paxton Pomykal, Thomas Roberts,

Forwards: Francis Atuahene, Dominique Badji, Jesus Ferreira, Zdenek Ondrasek, Ricardo Pepi, Fafa Picault, Bryan Reynolds, Dante Sealy, Ewa Twumasi.

D.C. United

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, Chris Seitz.

Defenders: Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Oniel Fisher, Joseph Mora, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Donovan Pines.

Midfielders: Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, Emmanuel Boateng, Russell Canouse, Felipe Martins, Júnior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Ulises Segura, Griffin Yow.

Forward: Ola Kamara

Houston Dynamo

Goalkeepers: Michael Nelson.

Defenders: Jose Bizama, Victor Cabrera, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Sam Junqua, Adam Lundkvist, Erik McCue, Kiki Struna, Zarek Valentin.

Midfielders: Darwin Ceren, Boniek García, Niko Hansen, Tomás Martínez, Tommy McNamara, Memo Rodriguez, Matias Vera.

Forwards: Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas, Ronaldo Peña, Darwin Quintero, Christian Ramirez, Michael Salazar.

LAFC

Goalkeepers: Pablo Sisniega.

Defenders: Tristan Blackmon, Mohamed El-Munir, Diego Palacios, Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva, Walker Zimmerman.

Midfielders: Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing, Francisco Ginella, Alejandro Guido, Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Forwards: Adama Diomande, Danny Musovski, Adrien Perez, Josh Pérez, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, Rodolfo Zelaya.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Goalkeepers: David Bingham, Justin Vom Steeg.

Defenders: Julian Araujo, Rolf Feltscher, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Jorgen Skjelvik, Daniel Steres, Diedie Traore.

Midfielders:  Efrain Alvarez, Joe Corona, Emil Cuello, Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen, Sacha Kljestan, Sebastian Lletget.

Forwards: Cristian Pavon, Ethan Zubak.

Inter Miami CF

Goalkeeper: John McCarthy, Bryan Meredith, Luis Robles.

Defenders: Mikey Ambrose, A.J. De La Garza, Grant Lillard, Christian Makoun, Alvas Powell, Ben Sweat, Román Torres.

Midfielders: Lee Nguyen, Luis Argudo, George Acosta, Jay Chapman, David Norman Jr., Matias Pellegrini, Victor Ulloa.

Forwards: Julian Carranza, Jerome Kiesewetter, Juan Agudelo.

Minnesota United

Goalkeeper: Dayne St. Clair.

Defenders: Michael Boxall, Chase Gasper, Brent Kallman, Romain Metanire, Ike Opara, Wyatt Omsberg.

Midfielders: Osvaldo Alonso, Hassani Dotson, Thomas Chacon, Ethan Finlay, Jan Gregus, Kevin Molino, Robin Lod.

Forwards: Angelo Rodriguez, Mason Toye.

Impact de Montréal

Goalkeepers: Evan Bush, James Pantemis.

Defenders: Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala, Karifa Yao, Jorge Corrales

Midfielders: Bojan Krkic, Clement Bayiha, Mathieu Choiniere, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Romell Quioto, Amar Sejdic, Shamit Shome, Saphir Taider, Lassi Lappalainen.

Forwards: Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Maxi Urruti,

Nashville SC

Goalkeepers: Adrian Zendejas, Joe Willis.

Defenders: Jalil Anibaba, Brayan Beckeles, Jimmy Medranda, Daniel Lovitz, Eric Miller, Dave Romney.

Midfielders: Anibal Godoy, Derrick Jones, Dax McCarty, Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar.

Forwards: David Accam, Dominique Badji, Abu Danladi, Cameron Lancaster, Daniel Rios.

New England Revolution

Goalkeepers: Matt Turner, Brad Knighton.

Defenders: Alexander Buttner, Brandon Bye, Samba Camara, Antonio Delamea, Andrew Farrell, Michael Mancienne, Seth Sinovic.

Midfielders: Issac Angking, Scott Caldwell, Luis Caicedo, Diego Fagundez, Nicolas Firmino, Carles Gil, DeJuan Jones, Damian Rivera, Kelyn Rowe, Wilfried Zahibo.

Forwards: Adam Buksa, Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, Teal Bunbury, Cristian Penilla, Justin Rennicks

New York City FC

Goalkeepers: Luis Barraza, Sean Johnson, Brad Stuver.

Defenders: Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray, Sebastien Ibeagha, Ronald Matarrita, James Sands, Joe Scally, Anton Tinnerholm.

Midfielders: Justin Haak, Maxi Moralez, Alex Ring, Tony Rocha, Juan Pablo Torres.

Forwards: Valentin Castellanos, Héber, Gary Mackay-Steven, Jesus Medina, Alexandru Mitriță, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

New York Red Bulls

Goalkeeper: Kendall McIntosh, Ryan Meara.

Defenders: Rece Buckmaster, Kyle Duncan, Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Sean Nealis, Tim Parker and Amro Tarek.

Midfielders: Cristian Casseres Jr., Sean Davis, Omir Fernandez, Kaku, Ben Mines, Alex Muyl, Danny Royer, Marc Rzatkowski, Florian Valot.

Forwards: Tom Barlow, Mathias Jørgensen, Brian White

Orlando City

Goalkeepers: Brian Rowe.

Defenders: Kamal Miller, Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Joao Moutinho.

Midfielders: Jordan Bender, David Loera, Sebastian Mendez, Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra, Robinho, Uri Rosell.

Forwards: Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller, Santiago Patino, Dom Dwyer, Josue Colman, Benji Michel, Nani.

Philadelphia Union

Goalkeepers: Andre Blake, Matt Freese, Joe Bendik.

Defenders: Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis, Olivier Mbaizo, Mark McKenzie, Matt Real, Kai Wagner.

Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle, Jack De Vries, Anthony Fontana, Jose Martinez, Cole Turner.

Forwards: Cory Burke, Michee Ngalina, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos, Andrew Wooten.

Portland Timbers

Goalkeepers: Jeff Attinella, Aljaz Ivacic.

Defenders: Julio Cascante, Marco Farfan, Larrys Mabiala, Bill Tuiloma, Jorge Villafana, Dario Zuparic, Jorge Moreira.

Midfielders: Dairon Asprilla, Sebastian Blanco, Diego Chara, Tomas Conechny, Andres Flores, Marvin Loria, Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Eryk Williamson, Renzo Zambrano.

Forward: Jeremy Ebobisse.

Real Salt Lake

Goalkeepers: David Ochoa, Andrew Putna.

Defenders: Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Nedum Onuoha.

Midfielders: Luis Arriaga, Nick Besler, Damir Kreilach, Everton Luiz, Justin Portillo, Pablo Ruiz, Albert Rusnák.

Forwards: Corey Baird, Sam Johnson, Douglas Martinez, Jefferson Savarino, Tate Schmitt, Julian Vazquez.

San Jose Earthquakes

Goalkeepers: Matt Bersano, JT Marcinkowski, Emi Ochoa, Andrew Tarbell, Daniel Vega.

Defenders: Jacob Akanyirige, Florian Jungwirth, Guram Kashia, Nick Lima, Marcos Lopez, Paul Marie, Tommy Thompson, Casey Walls.

Midfielders: Eric Calvillo, Magnus Eriksson, Cristian Espinoza, Luis Felipe, Carlos Fierro, Gilbert Fuentes, Siad Haji, Judson, Vako, Shea Salinas, Jackson Yueill.

Forwards: Cade Cowell, Danny Hoesen, Andy Rios, Chris Wondolowski.

Seattle Sounders

Goalkeepers: Stefan Cleveland, Stefan Frei, Trey Muse.

Defenders: Xavier Arreaga, Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, Nouhou Tolo.

Midfielders: Handwalla Bwana, Emanuel Cecchini, Jordy Delem, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Gustav Svensson.

Forwards: Will Bruin, Justin Dhillon, Jordan Morris, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Raúl Ruidíaz

Sporting Kansas City

Goalkeepers: Eric Dick, Tim Melia, Richard Sanchez.

Defenders: Botond Barath, Matt Besler, Andreu Fontas, Jaylin Lindsey, Luis Martins, Roberto Puncec, Graham Smith, Graham Zusi.

Midfielders: Gianluca Busio, Cameron Duke, Roger Espinoza, Felipe Gutierrez, Felipe Hernandez, Ilie Sanchez, Wan Kuzain.

Forwards: Gerso Fernandes, Tyler Freeman, Erik Hurtado, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton.

Toronto FC

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono, Quentin Westberg.

Defenders: Auro Jr., Laurent Ciman, Julian Dunn, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow, Eriq Zavaleta.

Midfielders: Nick DeLeon, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Michael Bradley, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jacob Shaffelburg.

Forwards: Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore, Patrick Mullins, Juan Agudelo.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Goalkeeper: Maxime Crepeau, Thomas Hasal, Zac MacMath

Defenders: Ali Adnan, Derek Cornelius, Jasser Khmiri, Georges Mukumbilwa, Jake Nerwinski

Midfielders: Michael Baldisimo, Simon Colyn, Jon Erice, Inbeom Hwang, Andy Rose, Russell Teibert

Forwards: Theo Bair, Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna, Tosaint Ricketts


2020 MLS Superdraft Presented By Adidas

Draft will take place on Thursday, January 9, 2020

New scouting opportunity set for Dec 13-15, 2019

MIAMI, Fla. (December 13, 2019) —

The details for the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas were released today. The draft will take place on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 12 p.m. ET.

Some changes were also announced by the league. The draft is evolving in 2020 to streamline the draft process and provide fans with an innovative experience in collaboration with media partners ESPN and Twitter.

What’s New:

  • MLS and ESPN to collaborate on new draft presentation;
  • Embedded cameras and real-time reactions to amplify 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas;
  • A new 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase is added to scout top college prospects. It will take place Dec. 13-15 in Raleigh, N.C.

The 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas will be conducted during a jointly produced MLS and ESPN show. The show will stream live on Twitter, with a Twitter Event Card that includes the live stream and real-time highlights from the event all in one comprehensive experience. The live stream will feature cameras embedded with players and club decision-makers for real-time draftee reactions, live look-ins on club draft rooms, and instant engagement from fans on Twitter during the first round. Additional content and analysis will be provided across MLS league and club digital and social channels. The 2020 SuperDraft presented by adidas will also stream live on the ESPN App, YouTube and Facebook. 

The 2020 MLS expansion clubs will have the top selections in the draft, with Inter Miami CF owning two of the top three picks, the first and third picks overall, and Nashville SC selecting second overall.

“The MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is an important opportunity for MLS clubs to acquire top talent from the collegiate game as well as promising youth internationals,” said J. Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President, Competition & Player Relations.

Image result for todd durbin mls

“The new format will enhance the experience for players and fans, while maintaining the traditional competitive aspects of the SuperDraft.”

The SuperDraft will be conducted in four rounds with 26 players selected in each round. To streamline the process, clubs now will be permitted three minutes, instead of four in previous years, to make their player selections, and there will be no intermission between rounds. 

Complete 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas Rules and Procedures, are available on Russo Law and Soccer: CLICK HERE.

The eligible player list for the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will be announced on Monday, Dec. 30, following the 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase.

MLS College Showcase (Dec. 13-15) — A new scouting opportunity

The 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase is a three-day event in Raleigh, N.C., where technical staffs from every MLS club will have an opportunity to scout the top collegiate prospects in the nation, including players with remaining NCAA eligibility. The event will feature approximately 40 top college players, ranging from freshmen to seniors, participating in a series of training sessions, testing, interviews, and match play. This event will allow MLS technical staffs to interact with potential SuperDraft selections earlier in their collegiate careers without jeopardizing players’ collegiate eligibility.

The 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase occurs in conjunction with the 2019 Men’s College Cup and is a closed-door scouting event officially sanctioned by the NCAA. 

Note that Homegrown-eligible underclassmen players – young talents developed by MLS club academies – will not participate in the 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase.


Cover Photo: University of Connecticut’s Dayonn Harris sneaks out of traffic against Vermont. (Credit: Ian Bethune)


MLS Expansion Draft 2019| Complete Player List Sorted By Team and Estimated Ranking

MIAMI, Fla. (November 17, 2019) —

This year’s MLS Expansion Draft kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.

A key point is that once a player has been claimed from a club’s list of eligible players, Nashville SC and Inter Miami may no longer select players from that club’s list. So if Inter Miami’s Sporting Director Paul McDonough is going to pick anyone from his former club, he will only be able to tap into his knowledge of Atlanta United once in the expansion draft.

While there aren’t really many big-time goal-scorers to be found in the pool of available players, there is a wealth of pricey veteran defenders. And both expansion teams are already building up strength in midfield/ defensive midfield, they appear to not have much need at those positions in Tuesday’s draft.

For those who want to watch live, MLSsoccer.com’s 2019 MLS Expansion Draft live studio show will bring fans all of the selections in real-time, providing expert analysis on each team’s picks.

With a pool of 220 players, no clear cut favourites and only ten being selected, any attempt to create a “mock draft” is highly speculative at best. Only 4.5 % of the pool is being chosen by Miami or Nashville. That, my friends, makes predictions a guessing game. Disclaimers provided (what else would you expect?), let’s dive into the player pool and highlight a few players to watch.

PLAYERS AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION IN 2019 MLS EXPANSION DRAFT

Available Player List – Sorted By Team

MLS ClubPlayer NamePos.Pts.*
 Atlanta UnitedJustin MeramM96
 Atlanta UnitedMichael ParkhurstD77
 Atlanta UnitedJeff LarentowiczM66
 Atlanta UnitedBrek SheaD52
 Atlanta UnitedFlorentin PogbaD50
 Atlanta UnitedBrandon VazquezF39
 Atlanta UnitedDion PereiraM33
 Atlanta UnitedMikey AmbroseD3
 Atlanta UnitedKevin KratzM1
 Atlanta UnitedJon GallagherD0
 Atlanta UnitedJose HernandezD0
 Atlanta UnitedAlec KannGK0
 Atlanta UnitedBrendan MooreGK0
 Atlanta UnitedLuiz FernandoM0
 Chicago FireBastian SchweinsteigerD161
 Chicago FireNicolas GaitanM145
 Chicago FireNemanja NikolicF120
 Chicago FireDavid OustedGK64
 Chicago FireMarceloD42
 Chicago FireDiego CamposD14
 Chicago FireAmando MorenoM8
 Chicago FireCristian MartinezM5
 Chicago FireStefan ClevelandGK0
 Chicago FireElliot CollierM0
 Chicago FireRichard SanchezGK0
 Colorado RapidsTim HowardGK99
 Colorado RapidsDanny WilsonM61
 Colorado RapidsAxel SjobergD8
 Colorado RapidsNiki JacksonF4
 Colorado RapidsKofi OpareD3
 Colorado RapidsAbdul RwatubyayeD2
 Columbus Crew SCHector JimenezD71
 Columbus Crew SCFederico HiguainM65
 Columbus Crew SCWaylon FrancisD63
 Columbus Crew SCLuis ArgudoM57
 Columbus Crew SCDavid GuzmanM55
 Columbus Crew SCConnor MaloneyD36
 Columbus Crew SCYouness MokhtarM28
 Columbus Crew SCRicardo ClarkM19
 Columbus Crew SCRomario WilliamsF16
 Columbus Crew SCEduardo SosaM14
 Columbus Crew SCJosh WilliamsF10
 Columbus Crew SCJon KempinGK8
 Columbus Crew SCBen LundgaardGK0
 Columbus Crew SCEdward OpokuM0
 FC CincinnatiEmmanuel LedesmaM117
 FC CincinnatiRoland LamahM81
 FC CincinnatiKekuta MannehF77
 FC CincinnatiDarren MattocksF72
 FC CincinnatiPrzemyslaw TytonGK57
 FC CincinnatiCaleb StankoM51
 FC CincinnatiJustin HoyteD35
 FC CincinnatiAlvas PowellD34
 FC CincinnatiFanendo AdiF24
 FC CincinnatiForrest LassoD19
 FC CincinnatiCorben BoneM8
 FC CincinnatiNazmi AlbadawiM1
 FC CincinnatiHassan NdamD0
 FC CincinnatiLogan GdulaD0
 FC CincinnatiJimmy HagueGK0
 FC CincinnatiBen LundtGK0
 FC CincinnatiJimmy McLaughlinM0
 Los Angeles Football ClubJordan HarveyD148
 Los Angeles Football ClubTyler MillerGK139
 Los Angeles Football ClubSteven BeitashourD114
 Los Angeles Football ClubLee NguyenM70
 Los Angeles Football ClubMohamed El-MunirD38
 Los Angeles Football ClubJosh PerezM28
 Los Angeles Football ClubAdrien PerezM17
 Los Angeles Football ClubPeter-Lee VassellM10
 Los Angeles Football ClubDanilo da SilvaD9
 Los Angeles Football ClubRodolfo ZelayaF9
 Los Angeles Football ClubDejan JakovicD6
 Los Angeles Football ClubJavier PerezM1
 Los Angeles Football ClubLamar BatistaD0
 Los Angeles Football ClubPhillip EjimaduGK0
 Los Angeles Football ClubAlejandro GuidoM0
 LA GalaxyZlatan IbrahimovicF272
 LA GalaxyUriel AntunaM129
 LA GalaxyFavio AlvarezM87
 LA GalaxyJorgen SkjelvikD85
 LA GalaxyChris PontiusM51
 LA GalaxyPerry KitchenM32
 LA GalaxyServando CarrascoM21
 LA GalaxyEmil CuelloM14
 LA GalaxyDiedie TraoreD13
 LA GalaxyMatt LampsonGK2
 LA GalaxyJuninho Vitor JuniorM2
 LA GalaxyTomas Hilliard-ArceD0
 LA GalaxyJoão PedroM0
 League Pool GKCharlie LyonGK0
 Minnesota United FCEthan FinlayM111
 Minnesota United FCAngelo RodriguezF93
 Minnesota United FCBrent KallmanD75
 Minnesota United FCMiguel IbarraM60
 Minnesota United FCAbu DanladiF45
 Minnesota United FCRasmus SchullerM45
 Minnesota United FCLawrence OlumM26
 Minnesota United FCWilfried Moimbe-TahratD22
 Minnesota United FCMarlon HairstonM18
 Minnesota United FCCarter ManleyD0
 Minnesota United FCAlly Ng’anziM0
 Minnesota United FCWyatt OmsbergD0
 Minnesota United FCBobby ShuttleworthGK0
 Montreal ImpactEvan BushGK128
 Montreal ImpactMaximiliano UrrutiF114
 Montreal ImpactBacary SagnaD87
 Montreal ImpactRudy CamachoD70
 Montreal ImpactJorge CorralesD56
 Montreal ImpactZachary Brault-GuillardD47
 Montreal ImpactAnthony Jackson-HamelF43
 Montreal ImpactOmar BrowneM38
 Montreal ImpactKen KrolickiM19
 Montreal ImpactRod FanniD17
 Montreal ImpactAmar SejdicM2
 Montreal ImpactJeisson VargasF0
 New England RevolutionJuan AgudeloM95
 New England RevolutionEdgar CastilloD83
 New England RevolutionJuan CaicedoF75
 New England RevolutionMichael MancienneD52
 New England RevolutionJalil AnibabaD28
 New England RevolutionCody CropperGK24
 New England RevolutionBrad KnightonGK21
 New England RevolutionBrian WrightF2
 New York City FCEbenezer OforiM71
 New York City FCSebastien IbeaghaD65
 New York City FCJesus MedinaM53
 New York City FCBen SweatD50
 New York City FCTony RochaD41
 New York City FCGary Mackay-StevenM34
 New York City FCEric MillerD28
 New York City FCBrad StuverGK20
 New York City FCDaniel BedoyaM1
 New York City FCJuan Pablo TorresM1
 New York City FCLuis BarrazaGK0
 New York City FCJeff CaldwellGK0
 New York City FCAbdi MohamedD0
 Orlando City SCBrian RoweGK143
 Orlando City SCLamine SaneD118
 Orlando City SCWill JohnsonM87
 Orlando City SCRobinhoM72
 Orlando City SCSacha KljestanM66
 Orlando City SCCarlos AscuesD63
 Orlando City SCKyle SmithD48
 Orlando City SCShane O’NeillD36
 Orlando City SCCristian HiguitaM33
 Orlando City SCDillon PowersM27
 Orlando City SCAlex De JohnD18
 Orlando City SCGreg RanjitsinghGK7
 Orlando City SCAdam GrinwisGK0
 Philadelphia UnionHaris MedunjaninM196
 Philadelphia UnionMarco FabianM91
 Philadelphia UnionAurelien CollinD21
 Philadelphia UnionWarren CreavalleM20
 Philadelphia UnionOlivier MbaizoD16
 Philadelphia UnionJoe BendikGK13
 Philadelphia UnionFabinhoD1
 Philadelphia UnionMichee NgalinaF1
 Philadelphia UnionRJ AllenD0
 Portland TimbersZarek ValentinD63
 Portland TimbersClaude DielnaD58
 Portland TimbersAndy PoloM49
 Portland TimbersAndres FloresM39
 Portland TimbersJeff AttinellaGK37
 Portland TimbersTomas ConechnyM34
 Portland TimbersRenzo ZambranoM34
 Portland TimbersDairon AsprillaM31
 Portland TimbersModou JadamaD2
 Portland TimbersAljaz IvacicGK0
 Portland TimbersKendall McIntoshGK0
 Real Salt LakeNick RimandoGK138
 Real Salt LakeKelyn RoweM38
 Real Salt LakeJoão PlataM25
 Real Salt LakeJustin PortilloM5
 Real Salt LakeLuke MulhollandM1
 Real Salt LakeTony BeltranD0
 Real Salt LakeAlex HorwathGK0
 Real Salt LakePablo RuizM0
 San Jose EarthquakesHarold CummingsD71
 San Jose EarthquakesMarcos LopezD61
 San Jose EarthquakesPaul MarieD15
 San Jose EarthquakesCarlos FierroM11
 San Jose EarthquakesFrancois AffolterD3
 San Jose EarthquakesEric CalvilloM2
 San Jose EarthquakesLuis FelipeM2
 San Jose EarthquakesKevin PartidaD1
 San Jose EarthquakesMatt BersanoGK0
 San Jose EarthquakesJimmy OckfordD0
 San Jose EarthquakesAndrew TarbellGK0
 Seattle Sounders FCHarry ShippM93
 Seattle Sounders FCVictor RodriguezM73
 Seattle Sounders FCRoman TorresD63
 Seattle Sounders FCSaad Abdul-SalaamD50
 Seattle Sounders FCChad MarshallD41
 Seattle Sounders FCWill BruinF27
 Seattle Sounders FCAlex RoldanM23
 Seattle Sounders FCJonathan CampbellD17
 Seattle Sounders FCJustin DhillonF9
 Seattle Sounders FCLuis SilvaF8
 Seattle Sounders FCEmanuel CecchiniM6
 Seattle Sounders FCBryan MeredithGK0
 Sporting Kansas CityBenny FeilhaberM102
 Sporting Kansas CityKrisztian NemethF89
 Sporting Kansas CityBotond BarathD85
 Sporting Kansas CitySeth SinovicD80
 Sporting Kansas CityAndreu FontasD38
 Sporting Kansas CityNicolas HaslerD28
 Sporting Kansas CityGedion ZelalemM16
 Sporting Kansas CityJimmy MedrandaD13
 Sporting Kansas CityEric DickGK1
 Sporting Kansas CityRodney WallaceD1
 Toronto FCJustin MorrowD100
 Toronto FCLaurent CimanD57
 Toronto FCTsubasa EndohM50
 Toronto FCDrew MoorD47
 Toronto FCEriq ZavaletaD41
 Toronto FCPatrick MullinsF31
 Toronto FCNicolas BenezetM28
 Toronto FCAshtone MorganD14
 Toronto FCRyan TelferD5
 Toronto FCJon BakeroM0
 Toronto FCCaleb Patterson-SewellGK0

A note about the points used to rank the player pool: The points gathered come from this years’s MLS Fantasy Game. While that is obviously a less-than-ideal way to rank a player’s potential, it is an attempt to provide some guidance based on a player’s performance over the 2019 season. A player who has a ‘0’ for his score doesn’t mean that he is not worth a look. It simply reflects that he lacked playing time during the past season.

The Russo Soccer Top 50 Players in 2019 Expansion Draft

Peruvian International Winger Andy Polo of the Portland Timbers (left) is among the players available to Inter Miami CF or Nashville SC. | photo: Portland Timbers

Overview

With teams only being able to protect twelve senior roster slot players, most teams left second and/or third string goalkeepers unprotected. Also, players who have announced their retirement but who are under contract until the end of the year were also naturally left unprotected. Zlatan Ibrahimovitch of the LA Galaxy has announced his departure from MLS, and thus was a natural choice to make the Galaxy’s unprotected player list. The list also features more than a few high-priced older players.

Players To Watch

Forwards

Atlanta United’s Brandon Vasquez is a strong choice to be selected by Inter Miami CF. Vazquez signed with Atlanta United as a Discovery Signing via transfer from Club Tijuana on Dec. 2, 2016. He made eight appearances as a substitute as a forward/winger in MLS and two starts in US Open Cup in 2018. Vazquez scored just a minute into his MLS debut at Real Salt Lake on April 22, 2017 and added two goals and an assist in two US Open Cup starts in 2017. This past season saw him have limited time, appearing in 11 matches, scoring 2 goals and adding 1 assist across 637 minutes played. He was recently added to the US Under 23 Men’s National Team, coached by Inter Miami’s Jason Kreis, ahead of their 2-0 win in a friendly against Japan. Vasquez was in that squad and earned an appearance, coming on in the 72nd minute.

Atlanta United’s Brandon Vasquez, a top choice in the expansion draft. | Photo: Atlanta United FC

New England Revolution forward Juan Caicedo is also a player to watch. The Colombian joined the Revs from Independiente Medellin and has experience playing in the Colombian first division. He has tallied 89 goals in nearly 300 appearances across all competitions through nine professional seasons in the top divisions of Colombia and Argentina and has experience in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. He appeared in 27 games for New England, starting 13 and scoring five goals.

Juan Fernando Caicedo | Photo: New England Revolution

Montréal Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti would offer a combination of skill and MLS experience. The 28-year old Argentine originally came to MLS in 2013 as a high-profile signing by Toronto FC from Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina. The Impact acquired him via a trade with FC Dallas in December 2018. He made 31 appearances for the Les Montréalais during the 2019 season, starting 27 of those matches and netting 4 goals on a team that failed to create enough scoring chances and often struggled to find a rhythm under former coach Remi Garde.

Maximiliano Urruti, Impact de Montréal | Photo: TSN

Midfielders

LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, already a Mexican international, is one of the top players in the expansion draft. The 22 year-old speedy winger who is on loan from Manchester City has drawn interest from both Chivas de Guadalajara and Portuguese giants Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Antuna is believed to have signed a contract extension with City through 2022. He remains on loan with the Galaxy through the end of the season but his future beyond that point has not been determined. He scored 6 goals and contributed 5 assists for the Galaxy during the 2019 season.

Uriel Antuna, 22, of the Los Angeles Galaxy, left, shown competing with LAFC’s Lee Nyugen, another player available in this year’s expansion draft. | Photo: USA Today

Seattle Sounders midfielder Victor Rodriguez is an experienced, versatile, attacking threat who can play on either wing or as an attacking midfielder. The veteran has over 127 appearances in LaLiga dating back to the 2012-13 season he spent with Real Zaragoza. Rumours in a Seattle say that Rodriguez wants to return to Spain for personal reasons. However he might be a gamble someone’s willing to take, because he might well be the best available player and has a low cost-to-skill ratio. He helped to seal the victory over Toronto in MLs Cup with a wonderful shot from the edge of the penalty box that eluded goalkeeper Quentin Westberg in the 76th minute. After winning the MLS Cup MVP, he’s no longer flying under the radar, either. I could see Miami selecting him and using TAM money to give him a raise, also making his trips home to Barcelona much easier.

Victor Rodriguez | Photo: Lindsey Wasson / Seattle Sounders FC

Haris Medunjanin isn’t typically mentioned in discussions about marquee players brought into MLS from overseas in recent years. But given the season he had in 2019 for the Philadelphia Union, perhaps he should be. A former Bosnia and Herzegovina national team player, at 34 years of age, is among a bunch of veterans left unprotected by their teams. Medunjanin has played a key role in the Union’s offense since arriving from Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2017. Positionally, he has played as a deep-lying No. 10 given his wide range of passing. But when Philly adopted a new system in 2019, he took on more defensive responsibilities as a No. 6. He’s also very durable, starting all 34 of the Union’s games this past season. Off the pitch, he has embraced the role of being a veteran leader and role-model for younger players, providing advice and constructive criticism on their play. On this point, he told mlssoccer.com: “I know myself when I was younger, it was harder and you played with a lot of more-experienced players and they would be like cursing you out when you did something wrong,” Medunjanin said. “Like that you learn, and sometimes as a player we should be hard on the younger players to get better.” Medunjanin is out of contract, so the choosing team would have to strike a new deal with him.

Haris Medunjanin of the Philadelphia Union is near the top of our list of available players | Photo: The Athletic

Atlanta United FC’s Justin Meram, a veteran MLS winger who spent five seasons with the Columbus Crew, was traded to Atlanta and was a contributor to both the regular season and the U.S. Open Cup during the 2019 campaign. He also plays on the Iraq National Team. He quickly became a fan favourite in Atlanta. “I’m very thankful for the fans bringing me in as one of their own from the get go,” he said. “They didn’t really look back on the past year I had, a little bit of the struggles. They looked at me as, ‘This guy could help.’ That gave me a little bit of confidence coming in.”

Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City midfielder Robinho (Francisco Wellington Barbosa de Lisboa) at age 24, is still a player with potential. The native of Recife, PE, Brazil was acquired by Orlando from Columbus Crew during the summer transfer window. The Brazilian midfielder last played for Ceará Sporting Club in Brazil’s First Division during the second half of the 2018 season, where he made two appearances in the Brazilian First Division – Serie A – following a loan stint at Santa Cruz Futebol Clube of Brazil’s Third Division during the first half of the 2018 season. While at Santa Cruz, Robinho made 37 appearances across all competitions for Santa Cruz, scoring eight goals. Robinho shows signs of being a creative player who can help unlock defenses with his movement and pace. He can provide some speed and quality out on the edge of the pitch and is an affordable player.

Robinho | Foto: Divulgação

It’s worth noting that an Atlanta United veteran who has had an exemplary career in MLS is also on the list of available players. I would of course be referring to none other than midfielder Jeff Laurentowicz, 36, who studied and played at Brown University.

Defenders

Orlando City SC Lamine Sané is one of the top ranked defenders among available players. The 32-year-old French born Senegalese international just completed his second season with the Lions, after spending the previous two seasons with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. Sané is the vocal leader of the back line, shouting out instructions from the first to the last whistle. He featured in 26 games this season at Orlando, starting all but one of those matches. Orlando City coach James O’Connor brought Sané to the forefront this past season, moving to a four-back defensive platform and placing him alongside the Swede Robin Jansson. Sané’s height, at 6 feet, 4 inches (1.72 m) is an asset, allowing him to cut down corners and crosses.

Aug 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City defender Ludovic Lamine Sane (22) and FC Dallas midfielder Santiago Mosquera (11) fight for the ball during the second half at Exploria Stadium. Photo: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Mbaizo of the Philadelphia Union could be a good choice for either Miami or Nashville. The 22-year-old right back from Douala, Cameroon hasn’t seen much playing time with the Union, losing some time to injuries, and thus didn’t make the top 50 list above. However, he has much potential, is not overpriced, and already is a regular on the national teams of his native Cameroon. It came as a surprise to many followers of the Union to see him among the unprotected players. Mbaizo is also likely to have some significant sale value in the future. This month, he has played for Cameroon’s national team at the under-23 men’s Africa Cup of Nations. He was on the field for every minute of the group stage, and helped set up the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Mali. The team, however, ended up finishing third in the group stage and fell short of the semifinals.

Olivier Mbaizo, Philadelphia Union | Photo: Philadelphia Union

Los Angeles Football Club defender Mohamed El-Munir is fast and displays excellent control on the ball. The Libyan international has 19 caps for his country and made 15 appearances for LAFC this past season.

Mohamed El-Munir | Photo: Los Angeles Football Club

San Jose Earthquakes defender Marcos Lopez, who is only 20 years old, would be a choice based on potential future dividends. The native of Callao, Peru transferred to San Jose from Sporting Cristal Lima and signed a multi-year contract ahead of the 2019 season. Lopez is a young left back that has already made an international appearance with Peru in August 2018 at the age of 18 when he appeared in a game against Germany. He can also play further up the pitch as a left winger. Lopez has a very successful first season with Sporting Cristal Lima, helping the club have a +62 goal differential, the best in the Peruvian league, and helped them earn qualification to the Copa Libertadores group stage. He played in 18 games for the Quakes in 2019, starting 15. This month he was called to the Peru National Team for a pair of international friendlies against Colombia (played last Friday at Hard Rock Stadium) and Chile.

Marcos Lopez (right) | photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Goalkeepers

Among the numerous goalkeepers on the unprotected list, several have accumulated significant experience in MLS. Most teams. Among them are Orlando City’s Brian Rowe, who is 31, and longtime Impact de Montréal keeper Evan Bush, who is 33.

Evan Bush of the Impact de Montréal has been consistently good for several seasons. An MLS original with the Impact, Bush completed his eighth season with Montréal. In 2018, he had a career-high 10 clean sheets and was the MLS’ top goalkeeper according to the Audi Player Index. He had a breakout season in 2015, starting 31 games, after only starting 15 games across his first three MLS seasons. He was a finalist for the 2015 Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year award, following an outstanding Concacaf Champions League campaign in 2015 that saw him win the CCL Golden Glove award.

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush (1) blocks a shot on goal by the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match in San Jose, Calif., on March 2, 2019. | Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tony Avelar

Brian Rowe of Orlando City SC is another available keeper. The 31-year-old goalkeeper completed his eighth season in MLS in 2019, after beginning his career in Los Angeles with the Galaxy in 2012. He earned 7 clean sheets in 2019, playing in 32 games for Orlando City. Rowe was exceptional in 2016 with the Galaxy, where he recorded 31 appearances, earning nine clean sheets and earning a 1.07 goals-against average en route to the playoffs. During that 2016 season, Rowe allowed the fewest goals (33) in MLS by any goalkeeper that appeared in a minimum of 30 matches. Rowe also finished third in MLS with 113 saves.

A younger choice at goalkeeper would be Los Angeles Football Club’s Tyler Miller. The 26-year old keeper started 28 games for LAFC this past season. He posted nine clean sheets in the process. Miller was the number one choice at goalkeeper up until last summer’s Gold Cup.Thereafter, he split time with Pablo Sisniega, whom LAFC chose to protect in the expansion draft. A player of Miller’s calibre is a tempting choice for either Inter Miami or Nashville. By leaving him unprotected, LAFC might be hoping he is selected, thus ensuring that none of their other unprotected players can be taken. It would be one way of solving the debate at goal keeper, and not having to renegotiate a contract for Miller, who is out of contract in Los Angeles.

LAFC GK Tyler Miller | Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Danish goalkeeper David Ousted of the Chicago Fire, 34, is also available. Ousted has been a starter for most of his six seasons in MLS, including five with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He is considered one of the more consistent keepers in the league, and holds numerous club records for Vancouver including wins, clean sheets and starts. He was finalist for goalkeeper of the year honours in 2015 with the Caps, who also won the Voyageur Cup (Canadian Championship) that year.

David Ousted | Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Two 40 year-old goalkeepers were left unprotected, but both have already announced their retirements. Nick Raimondo of Real Salt Lake was one of the best goalkeepers in MLS history. The legendary Tim Howard has also announced his retirement from the game.

Conclusion

Whatever the results of this expansion draft, there are certainly some quality players that Inter Miami and Nashville can acquire to assist them in building their initial rosters. The players they select can of course also be used in trades for other players, draft choices, allocation money or international player slots, so it’s not necessarily the player you obtain, but what you could acquire in exchange for that player.

It’s an interesting time of the year in MLS.