Player roulette in expansion draft

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

To protect or not protect, that is the question.

Despite his team failing to make Major League Soccer's post-season, Toronto FC director of soccer Mo Johnston has had a crazy busy November.

A trip overseas to be inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, and more importantly for TFC, finding and hiring a new head coach and deciding what players to protect ahead of this week's MLS expansion draft has taken up his month.

The expansion draft for MLS's 16th franchise, the Philadelphia Union, goes Wednesday afternoon. The list of 11 players Johnston has decided to protect must be submitted to the league by 3p.m. today.

Johnston's preferred list of who to keep was theoretically compiled some time ago. And even with Preki joining the scene as head coach less than a week ago, things have unlikely changed.

Johnston will elect to keep cheap contracts, and let the cards fall for the rest.

UNTOUCHED

Just because a player is left unprotected doesn't necessarily mean anyone's going anywhere. Philadelphia will select 10 players, with a maximum one player allowed to be selected from each team, meaning five MLS team rosters will be left untouched.

Stefan Frei and Fuad Ibrahim don't have to be protected due to their Generation Adidas status.

Designated player Julian de Guzman didn't have to be protected, but will be. There was apparent interest from at least one another team in the DP, and Johnston obviously didn't want to risk losing the first DP in franchise history. So a better safe than sorry approach will be taken. De Guzman will be among the list of 11.

The other no-brainers to be protected will be Dwayne De Rosario, O'Brian White, Nana Attakora, Amadou Sanyang, Emmanuel Gomez, Sam Cronin, Stefan Frei and Marvel Wynne.

Each of the players listed above, whether their contract or contributions, are valuable to the team

Gabe Gala and Lesly Fellinga's cheap contracts fit the cost effective approach, but their value is negligible.

Meaning hypothetically, two spots will be left for the other players.

Canadian defender Adrian Serioux is a free agent, but requires to be protected. Since Serioux will certainly be in TFC's plans going forward, he'll likely be on Johnston's list.

Backup goalkeeper Brian Edwards also makes a whole lot of sense to keep around. In the modern game, and particularly MLS, one solid goalkeeper isn't enough. Especially considering Edwards comes at a great price tag and is a quality back up keeper with starting potential. If left exposed, he seems like as good of a bet as any to be selected by Philadelphia.

The rest are likely to be exposed.

Although last season was poor by midfielder Carl Robinson's standards, his quality is undeniable. The Welshman accepted a contract extension under his market value to stay in Toronto last year, but that does little to assure his spot on the protected list.

Canadian striker Ali Gerba and defender Jim Brennan will also likely be left available. Gerba was a bust coming over mid-season. He will not be selected by Philadelphia

Neither will Brennan. The captain and player who amassed the most minutes for TFC in 2009 will forever be linked to the formative years of the franchise. But there's no question, Preki will makeover his back four. It's yet to be determined where Brennan will fit into that equation.

Striker Pablo Vitti's contributions can no way justify his contract. Same goes for striker Chad Barrett, who was widely disappointing in 2009, scoring only five goals in 29 appearances.

And then of course there's Amado Guevara. The Honduran's past conflict with Preki has been well documented.

If TFC's going to be about accountability and long-term building, Guevara doesn't fit.

Defender Nick Garcia has no appeal going forward.

GARETH.WHEELER@SUNTV.CANOE.CA


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