While everyone else has been watching the 2016 MLS Playoffs, most teams in the league have already begun their offseason preparations.
With two new teams entering the league next season in Minnesota United and Atlanta United, one of the primary tasks this offseason is choosing who to protect in the expansion draft.
The SB Nation MLS blogs each compiled a list of protected players and our two newest sites, Dirty South Soccer and E Pluribus Loonum, each selected five players.
Agudelo, Kamara (DP), Fagundez, Rowe, Kouassi (DP, INTL), Farrell, Tierney, Nguyen, Bunbury, Koffie (INTL), Cropper, Caldwell (Homegrown), and Herivaux (Homegrown).
The draft rules are a little weird as always, but both homegrown players for the Revs are automatically protected (Fagundez is on his second contract and no long officially has the HGP status). New England is going to have to protect two of their four international players and Kouassi was more or less a given but there might be debate on who the second player would be between Koffie, Watson and Goncalves.
With their fifth and final pick however, Atlanta dealt a serious blow to the Revolution backline by taking London Woodberry. New England was already really thin at centerback and with Jose Goncalves and Darrius Barnes out of contract the Revs are essentially out of true central defenders on the roster.
Je-Vaughn Watson and Andrew Farrell can play in the middle but this was a position the Revs needed to target in the offseason and if this were the actual draft the Revs would have a real problem on their hands. Yes, Jay Heaps is already on the scouting trail but if the team don't resign Jose Goncalves, regardless of this hypothetical, they might need to sign two starting quality defenders in the offseason.
One of the possibilities it seems the Revs are prepared for however is losing a goalkeeper in the expansion draft. Our staff decided to protect Cody Cropper, leaving Bobby Shuttleworth, Brad Knighton and Matt Turner exposed for selection. Since it’s unlikely the Revs will need four keepers next season, losing a player like Woodberry in the mock draft could open up trade possibilities using one of the keepers (including Cropper) to acquire a veteran defender, various forms of MLS cash, or a high draft pick from one of the expansion teams. I'll note in the mock draft that Minnesota selected Zach MacMath from the Rapids with an eye on MacMath being the starter for the Loons.
The Revs have been burned by the expansion draft before, losing Patrick Mullins and Tony Taylor to New York City FC just two years ago. Mullins is now with DC United and Taylor had his option declined by NYCFC. One of the quickest ways to build up an expansion team is with young talent and solid veterans. Pilfering young players from teams like the Revs who tend to draft well is usually a good strategy and Dirty South Soccer has really given our imaginary front office a lot to think about.
The 2016 MLS Expansion Draft will take place on Tuesday, December 13th at 2pm.
Who should the Revolution protect in the draft? If you were Minnesota or Atlanta who would you draft from the Revs to help your new team? Let us know in the comments below.