Trades have been made, the protected lists have been released and now the only thing left to do is conduct the 2015 MLS Expansion Draft. How might tomorrow's selections turn out? Crew SC's Digital Content team of Cody Sharrett and Ryan Schwepfinger joined forces for a mock draft that attempts to predict what Orlando City SC and New York City FC will do tomorrow. Sharrett assumed control of Orlando City, while Schwepfinger took the reins of NYCFC.
The mock draft was conducted using the full Expansion Draft rules and based off of the protected lists released by each MLS club. To simulate the process where clubs may protect an additional player once they have one selected, a neutral third party in Crew SC Video Content Producer Skyler Schmitt decided who to add to each club's protected list after a selection.
This exercise was strictly for fun and very likely to be completely incorrect come tomorrow, but hey, why not?
1. Orlando City SC - FWD Claudio Bieler (Sporting Kansas City)
Cody: For whatever reason, Bieler never seemed to quite fit in at Sporting Kansas City, but the Argentine Designated Player scored a boatload of goals for Ecuadorian powerhouse LDU Quito before coming to MLS. He only played 421 minutes in 2014, but given the right surrounding, I think he can still be a threat in MLS at age 30 after finding the net 10 times in 2013. With the Lions already set up through the middle with Tally Hall in net, Aurelien Collin and Amobi Okugo in central defense (for now) and former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká in midfield, Bieler solidifies Orlando City's spine.
SKC protects Jacob Peterson.
2. New York City FC - FWD Devon Sandoval (Real Salt Lake)
Ryan: It feels like a matter of time before Jason Kreis dips into the RSL pool based on his connection there. We already saw that in NYCFC's trade for defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe. While he might wait until later in the draft to select a member of the Claret and Cobalt since his extra knowledge affronts him the opportunity to slip somebody through the cracks, but I'll pluck Sandoval with NYCFC's first pick here since I assume Kreis will want to take an RSL player before Adrian Heath and OCSC do. The forward is just 23 years old and in 2013, Kreis' last season in Utah, he made his career-high in appearances (17), starts (10) and goals (three). That same season, he also started two of RSL's three Playoff matches, scoring one goal.
RSL protects Chris Wingert.
3. Orlando City SC - DEF Dan Gargan (LA Galaxy)
Cody: After bouncing around the League over the past few seasons, Gargan had a renaissance year at rightback in LA to help the Galaxy to MLS Cup. Arguably a top-three player at his position in 2014, Gargan chipped in five assists last season in LA. He will fit in nicely alongside Collin and Okugo in OCSC's backline.
LA protects Alan Gordon.
4. New York City FC - FWD Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution)
Ryan: You'd have to think that Mullins, the two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner, is a lock to be selected in this Draft. With Villa and Sandoval in the fold, forward is a strength for NYCFC compared to the other positions, but Mullins is too appealing to pass up in building a strike corps. Villa's veteran leadership pairs well with Sandoval and Mullins' youth.
NE protects Darrius Barnes.
5. Orlando City SC - DEF George John (FC Dallas)
Cody: Wildcard! John is coming off major knee surgery... but that didn't stop Orlando City from trading for Tally Hall (ruptured ACL), right? This move allows Okugo to slot into his preferred defensive midfield role. When healthy, John is one of the premier central defenders in all of MLS. If Collin returns to his All-Star form and John is healthy, the pairing could be the best in the League.
FCD protects David Texeira.
6. New York City FC - DEF Chris Korb (D.C. United)
Ryan: Jeb Brovsky slots in at leftback, Watson-Siriboe and Josh Williams at centerback, and now Chris Korb is my rightback for NYCFC. At age 27, he's already racked up 87 MLS appearances and was a big factor in the Black-and-Red's resurgence this season.
DCU protects David Estrada.
7. Orlando City SC - FWD Yannick Djalo (San Jose Earthquakes)
Cody: Orlando City is already partnered with Djalo's club S.L. Benfica, so with this pick Djalo's loan in MLS is extended and he packs a powerful punch in the Lions' attack with Kaká.
SJ protects Cordell Cato.
8. New York City FC - FWD/MID Gaston Fernandez (Portland Timbers)
Ryan: He's out of contract, but Fernandez could provide a great link between Frank Lampard and David Villa/the cavalcade of young strikers I've assembled as an attacking midfielder. "La Gata" provided seven goals and two assists in his debut season for Portland in a team with a multitude of attacking influences. The chance to connect with Lampard and Villa could be an impetus to keep the 31-year-old in MLS.
POR protects Jorge Villafana.
9. Orlando City SC - DEF Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo)
Cody: Good leftbacks are hard to come by in MLS. Ashe was deemed surplus when Houston signed DaMarcus Beasley, but returns to being a steady contributor rounding out Orlando's backline.
HOU protects David Horst.
10. New York City FC - MID Andrew Driver (D.C. United)
Ryan: Taking a look at this roster as I've constructed it, winger is a sore area of need. Driver fits the bill and is in his prime at 27 years old. Houston declined his option to free up some cap room and shipped his rights to D.C. United, but in the rules of the Expansion Draft, teams may renegotiate with selections, so that's not much of a concern for me.
DCU is out of the Draft.
11. Orlando City SC - MID Ned Grabavoy (Real Salt Lake)
Cody: For the second time in his career, Grabavoy is selected in the Expansion Draft. He's arguably the most consistent wing player available despite being in the twilight of his playing days at 31 years old... This only happens if his former coach Kreis doesn't pick him up with NYCFC first.
RSL is out of the Draft.
12. New York City FC - MID Danny Cruz (Philadelphia Union)
Ryan: Similar to the Driver pick, I need wingers and having more options is never a bad thing. Cruz plays like a bulldog in his ferocity. It fits the New York mindset for sure, but above all it's about filling position scarcity and adding another veteran who could play right away.
PHI protects Antoine Hoppenot.
13. Orlando City SC - FWD/MID Peguy Luyindula (New York Red Bulls)
Cody: My thought is that Orlando City SC will hit the international market for a high-profile Designated Player forward for Bieler to complement. This move is for depth, versatitlity and experience, all of which the Frenchman Luyindula provides.
NY protects Ruben Bover.
14. New York City FC - DEF Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC)
Ryan: Another option for centerback comes in the form of Caldwell, whose presence was sorely missed by Toronto FC when he was injured last season. I considered Stephen Keel here, but went with Caldwell due to his Premier League experience.
TFC protects Jackson.
15. Orlando City SC - MID Benji Joya (Chicago Fire)
Cody: The 21-year-old former Santos Laguna midfielder has tremendous upside and could learn a lot as Kaká's protege.
CHI protects Grant Ward.
16. New York City FC - FWD/MID Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)
Ryan: Why not? I have no idea if Cahill wants to stay in MLS, but it appears as if he's soured a bit on the Red Bulls and this would be quite the splash if NYCFC could pull it off. It would be a great start to the crosstown rivalry and it would definitely fit a need if the Fernandez pick doesn't work out.
NY is out of the Draft.
17. Orlando City SC - FWD Aaron Schoenfeld (Columbus Crew SC)
Cody: Here it is, your first Crew SC player chosen. Adrian Heath was witness to the Big Celery tearing up USL PRO in 2014 during his stint with Dayton Dutch Lions FC and now selects the still-developing striker.
CLB protects Ben Speas.
18. New York City FC - GK Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
Ryan: NYCFC definitely needs a starting caliber goalie to pair with Josh Saunders, and I've purposely held off from selecting one since OCSC appears to be set with Tally Hall as its long-term starter despite his ACL injury. I don't want to take the risk that Cody plucks a Union player to shut them out of the draft ahead of my final selection, so I'll take MacMath now. People forget how young he is -- just 23 years old and ripe with experience and potential. He's also cheaper than some other alternatives, such as Rais Mbolhi.
PHI is out of the Draft.
19. Orlando City SC - MID/DEF Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers)
Cody: OCSC can afford not to pick a backup goalkeeper with a rumored year-long loan for the Red Bulls' Ryan Meara in the works, so Jewsbury is a depth pick. The former Timbers' captain brings the experience of over 300 MLS matches played and will be a leader for the Lions in their first few seasons. This also serves as a versatility pick as Jewsbury can feature at both rightback and in the midfield.
POR is out of the Draft.
20. New York City FC - DEF/MID Bradley Orr (Toronto FC)
Ryan: One of the reasons Josh Williams was appealing to Jason Kreis was his ability to play multiple positions. That really helps when you're building a team from scratch. That's why I'm going with Bradley Orr, who is a defender by trade but stepped into the midfield for the Reds when needed last season. He's on a loan, but hey, maybe we can extend it.
TFC is out of the Draft.
So there you have it! 20 picks later and both Orlando City SC and New York City FC have full squads with which to work. Here's a summary of each team in full following our mock Expansion Draft, with bold text representing players already on the squads:
|Orlando City SC||New York City FC|
|Tally Hall||Josh Saunders|
|Tyler Turner||Kwame Watson-Siriboe|
|Tommy Redding||Jeb Brovsky|
|Rafael Ramos||Josh Williams|
|Luke Boden||Chris Korb|
|Aurelien Collin||Steven Caldwell|
|Dan Gargan||Bradley Orr|
|Harrison Heath||Andrew Jacobson|
|Darwin Ceren||Matt Dunn|
|Kevin Molino||Gaston Fernandez|
|Amobi Okugo||Danny Cruz|
|Ned Grabavoy||Tim Cahill|
|Claudio Bieler||David Villa|
|Yannick Djalo||Devon Sandoval|
|Peguy Luyindula||Patrick Mullins|