While the New England Revolution are preparing for an MLS Cup run, they do have some important decisions to make.
The 2022 expansion draft is inching closer and will take place on December 14th. New England will be able to protect 12 players and Damian Rivera, Justin Rennicks, and Henry Kessler are automatically protected and do not take up a spot.
(Special shoutout to Tanner Rebelo who had a great Twitter thread about the process)
So let’s take a look at who The Bent Musket staff deems worth protecting.
Greg: My absolute must keeps are Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Matt Turner, Andrew Farrell, DeJuan Jones, and Matt Polster, just solely based on their importance to the club. Brandon Bye and Tommy McNamara have also played well in starting roles and both are at reasonable team-friendly salaries, so they are must keeps in my opinion.
The final three spots could go a number of ways, but I’m giving two spots to Jon Bell and Maciel, who hold supplemental roster spots and are cheap rotation pieces for the Revolution. The final spot goes to Teal Bunbury who is under team control for 2022. Some might point to Bunbury’s 2021 salary was $375,000 and argue that he might be overpaid for his production, but it’s never a bad idea to have proven forward off the bench, especially if the rumors of Buksa thinking about leaving for Europe are true.
I gave a lot of consideration to Emmanuel Boateng, whose speed has proven to be a good weapon off the bench and might come in helpful with the departure of Tajon Buchanan. But as good as he’s been in limited time, I couldn’t justify giving a protected spot to a player with under 400 minutes during the regular season.
Sam: Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Matt Turner, Andrew Farrell, and DeJuan Jones, will likely be names that are seen all over this article.
Brandon Bye, Matt Polster, and Tommy McNamara also make the cut for me as well. That leaves three spots left and similar to Greg I will also be protecting Jon Bell and Maciel.
The only difference for me is that Bunbury will be unprotected as I will give Arnór Traustason the last spot on the protected list.
Traustason makes the most sense to protect because I imagine he would want to stay in MLS long-term and bounce back after a mediocre debut season in 2021. Also it would be quite the stain on Bruce Arena’s transfer record if none of the European transfers that he brought in were protected. Between the likes of Wilfrid Kaptoum and Christian Mafla, Traustason’s youth as well as his production this year makes him the more viable option for New England.
Josh: After a combined 66 goals and assists in 2021, the trio of Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil, and Adam Buksa are no-brainers to protect. Although it was not his best year between the posts, Matt Turner still ranked atop the league’s best in goalkeeping. Without much depth behind him, the Revs must protect Turner.
Veteran experience can be a huge factor in a squad’s success. That is why the Revs have to protect the trio of Matt Polster, Tommy McNamara, and Andrew Farrell. With a combined 23 MLS seasons, the trio of Mcnamara, Farrell, and Polster can provide a veteran presence to this Revolution locker room. Especially on our younger players.
Speaking of youth, the Revs have to protect young guys like Maciel and Jon Bell. Both Maciel and Bell have moved up to the first team after success with Revs II and possess great skill and potential in their prospective positions and are the future of this Revolution team.
I don’t see the Revs protecting guys like Brad Knighton and Scott Caldwell, whose contracts expire at the end of the year. I also don’t see them protecting guys like Christian Mafla, A.J. DeLaGarza, Colin Verfurth, Edward Kizza, Ema Boateng, or Wilfried Kaptoum.
That leaves three names left on the list to protect, and honestly, I don’t know who I’d take. I have loved Luis Caicedo since he arrived in New England, but with a slow return from injury and the rise of Matt Polster at the CDM position, I don’t see the Revs protecting Caicedo, which kills me.
Although Teal Bunbury has been a positive force on and off the pitch in 2021, Bunbury will be 32 years old at the start of the 2022 MLS season, and with a team option on his contract, the Revs could decline. Emphasis on could. If the Revs intend on accepting the team option, the Revs should use the twelfth protection on Teal Bunbury.
Lastly comes Arnór Traustason. After a disappointing debut season for the Icelandic international, the Revs may be looking for a way to move on from Traustason. While I’d argue it would be more beneficial to hold on to him and sell, the expansion draft provides an opportunity for both parties to separate as the Revs may look to not protect Traustason in hopes Charlotte bites the bait.