By Sam Lingwood
With the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft almost upon us, we have a look at a potential lineup made of some of the best possible players left unprotected by their clubs for the draft.
In order for this squad to be put together, a 4-1-4-1 formation has been selected. They may have been left unprotected but these players could prove valuable at one of the expansion franchises in 2015 and beyond.
Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts – Portland Timbers
The 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, you can’t look past Donovan Ricketts. He brings experience and a safe pair of hands you can rely on. Has been in MLS since 2009 and has one MLS Cup title to his name.
Right-back: Dan Gargan – LA Galaxy
Another lad who has bundles of experience at MLS level, Dan Gargan is an intriguing option. A consistently solid level of performances last term make him a standout choice if New York City or Orlando City are looking for a right-back.
Centre-backs: AJ Soares & Carlos Salcedo – New England Revolution & Real Salt Lake
The centre-back pairing are formidable. AJ Soares had a high standard of performances last year, and is at a great age to put in even better displays at the back in the hope he can push on and win the MLS Cup in 2015 with whoever he ends up with, so long as he stays in MLS. Carlos Salcedo is a young talent who didn’t feature consistently last season. However, he’s a great prospect and with the right experience around him, he will thrive in the scenario presented.
Left-back: Heath Pearce – Montreal Impact
Heath Pearce is another experienced defender to shepherd either team through their inaugral season in Major League Soccer. He has a great CV to boast off, and at 30 he still has some good years left in the tank. A sound left-back who will get the job done if selected.
Defensive-midfield: Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas
Previous teams include Wigan Athletic when they were in the English Premier League. Hendry Thomas is a consistently high performer for his home nation Honduras and he represented them once again at the 2014 World Cup. Injury restricted him to just 10 appearances for FC Dallas in 2014 but he is worth the gamble.
Right-midfield: Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution
Diego Fagundez is picked to play on the right wing for this lineup. The 19-year-old playmaker has plenty of pace, talent and technique. Will be around for years and could be terrorising defences with one of the expansion franchises next season.
Central-midfield: Ben Speas – Columbus Crew
Another young lad, Ben Speas put in some good performances when selected last term and the 23-year-old will be hoping for more game time next season as he looks to build and push on to greater things with whoever he plays for in 2015.
Central-midfield: Peguy Luyindula – New York Red Bulls
Peguy Luyindula may be 35-years-old but the French playmaker showed that he can still be a difference-maker during the MLS Playoffs this season. Five goals and one assist in 26 regular appearances in 2014 make Luyindula an interesting option. He then netted three goals in five playoff games for the Red Bulls before they were knocked out by New England.
Left-midfield: Bobby Convey – New York Red Bulls
Bobby Convey offers some more EPL experience after spending five years with Reading before returning to MLS in 2009. At 31, he still has some talent left in the tank to help see either New York City FC and Orlando City succeed in their debut season.
Forward: Patrick Mullins – New England Revolution
Patrick Mullins put in a great performance off the bench in the MLS Cup Final on Sunday and the rookie was impressively consistent in his first season. Looking forward to bigger and better things from this lad next year.
This looks like a good team, playing a solid formation and they would probably do well as a squad in MLS. It will be great to see who is chosen in Wednesday’s draft and how they all get on next year.
How well would the Unprotected XI do if they were an MLS side – how many of them will be selected on Wednesday?