Blog: Who will Atlanta United leave unprotected?

Dec 06, 2017 Compton
March 5, 2017, Atlanta: Atlanta United RC goalkeeper Alec Kann saves a shot against the N.Y. Red Bulls during their first game in franchise history on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/

The MLS expansion draft player pool from which LAFC can select a few of its players will be released Sunday.

Each of the league’s teams can protect 11 players. Homegrown and Generations Adidas players are exempt from needing to be protected.

The draft will be held Dec. 12. LAFC will select five players. If a team has a player selected, it can’t lose any more.

Here are the players who I think Atlanta United will protect and why:

Midfielder Miguel Almiron, nine goals, 14 assists and tremendous upsale potential.

Midfielder Carlos Carmona, invaluable as a holding midfielder and Jeff Larentowicz’s status remains unclear.

Fullback Greg Garza, recently signed on a permanent transfer so he’s not going to be left unprotected.

Defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, finished fourth in MLS Defender of the Year voting.

Midfielder Julian Gressel, Rookie of the Year and can play different positions.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, not going anywhere.

Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. Turns out that goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt, just signed from USL club Cincinnati, doesn’t officially join the roster until Jan. 1, so he doesn’t need to go on this list in any category.

Striker Josef Martinez, 19 goals.

Defender Michael Parkhurst, team captain.

Forward Brandon Vazquez, too young and too much potential to let go on a freebie.

Forward Hector Villalba, Double-double in goals and assists.

Here are the players who I don’t think Atlanta United will protect:

Midfielder Yamil Asad, who was on loan and whose stats hasn’t been announced.

Fullback Mark Bloom, whose contract option wasn’t picked up.

Defender Bobby Boswell, whose contract expired.

Midfielder Harrison Heath, whose contract option wasn’t picked up.

Forward Kenwyne Jones, who has retired.

Goalkeeper Alec Kann, 18 starts last season, but with team signing Hildebrandt signs don’t look good for his future.

Midfielder Kevin Kratz

Fullback Tyrone Mears

Midfieflder Chris McCann

Midfielder Jeffrey Otoo, whose contract option wasn’t picked up.

Midfielder Jacob Peterson

Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish

Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, whose contract option wasn’t picked up.

Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu

Striker Romario Williams, this one will likely divide Atlanta United’s supporters, but you can only protect 11 players.

Players who are exempt:

Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Miles Robinson. (George Bello, Lagos Kunga and Patrick Okonkwo are also Homegrowns, but won’t be on the roster until January 2018.)

Atlanta United had some success in last year’s expansion draft. The Five Stripes drafted:

Fullback Donny Toia, who was traded to Orlando for the SuperDraft pick that resulted in Gressel.

Defender Zach Loyd, who never played a minute in a league game for Atlanta United because of a variety of medical issues.

Goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who was traded back to Toronto for Bloom, who made two starts. His option was declined by Atlanta United. 

Fullback Mikey Ambrose, who made seven appearances, including two starts, for the Five Stripes.

Kann, who started the season’s first 18 games before a quad injury and the arrival of Guzan moved him out of the starting lineup.