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Top 10 Expansion Draft Targets for Atlanta and Minnesota

From established vets to rising youngsters, the list of unprotected MLS players runs deep.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Montreal Impact
Once a homegrown star for the Chicago Fire, Harry Shipp endured a down year in Montreal. Could he find his form in Atlanta or Minnesota next season?
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Ten MLS players will have new homes come Tuesday afternoon, when MLS newcomers Minnesota United and Atlanta United will establish their inaugural rosters during the MLS Expansion Draft.

Keep an eye on these players when the action kicks off at 2:00 PM ET, each of whom could contribute immediately upon selection to a new MLS club:

1. Jared Watts / Defender / Colorado Rapids

Watts, a starting center back on one of the stingiest defenses in MLS history last season, represents one of the surest options in this draft. And, at just 24 years old, he should offer productivity for years to come.

2. Harry Shipp / Midfielder / Montreal Impact

A one-time homegrown star for the Chicago Fire, the 25-year old struggled to find his form in Montreal last season and ultimately fell out of the club’s Starting XI. The potential for Shipp to bounce back—and consistently create from the wing, as he did in Chicago (14 assists across two seasons)—make him an enticing option.

3. Waylon Francis / Defender / Columbus Crew SC

A steady presence along Columbus’ back line over the past three seasons, Francis offers consistent service from the flank and tracks back with pace. The Costa Rica international would likely start for either club.

4. Clint Irwin / Goalkeeper / Toronto FC

Irwin, one of the better-known names on this list, helped lead Toronto FC to an MLS Cup Final appearance just a week ago. Paired with three productive seasons in Colorado, this experience makes Irwin the safest keeper in the draft.

5. Baggio Husidic / Midfielder / LA Galaxy

If nothing else, the Bosnian midfielder offers consistency out of the Galaxy midfield. He’s a strong passer, can feature centrally or out wide and—like several others on this list—has ample MLS experience (137 career appearances).

6. Steven Beitashour / Defender / San Jose Earthquakes

Beitashour became a household name in MLS after starting 140 matches for the Whitecaps and Earthquakes from 2010-2015. Last season, he helped anchor a Toronto side that made an appearance in the MLS Cup final. When building a roster, experience counts—and Beitashour has it.

7. Chris Duvall / Defender / New York Red Bulls

Duvall, a 2015 second-round SuperDraft pick, made a career-high 25 appearances (and two playoff starts) for the Red Bulls last season. He’s shown steady growth in each of his three MLS seasons and would compete for a starting spot wherever he lands.

8. Andreas Ivanschitz / Midfielder / Seattle Sounders

Ivanschitz, fresh off an MLS Cup championship, offers the versatility to play virtually every midfield position. The Austrian international also delivers exceptional service from set pieces, providing an attractive option as a depth piece or fringe starter.

9. Zach Lloyd / Defender / FC Dallas

Injuries derailed Lloyd’s 2016 season, which became his least productive campaign since entering the league in 2010. But his extensive experience (180 career MLS appearances) and versatility (he can play both center back and fullback) make him a worthwhile investment later in the expansion draft.

10. Calum Mallace / Defender / Montreal Impact

Mallace’s stock dropped after an inconsistent 2016 campaign. Yet even amidst his struggles, he remained an adept passer capable of featuring along the back line or in the defensive midfield. That versatility could prove valuable for one of the league’s newest clubs.

Who else belongs on this list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.