Dec. 14, 2016
2016 MLS Expansion Draft "Predictions"
Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC have taken different routes so far in their first offseason as a MLS club. Atlanta has gone out and signed thirteen players while Minnesota has three. Atlanta has gone out and signed two star USMNT youth players in Brandon Vazques and Andrew Carlton. Minnesota has signed two defenders from their NASL roster and traded for a backup defender from Colorado. Atlanta has signed players like Miguel Almiron and Kenwyne Jones, while Minnesota... I think I`ve made my point.
But the expansion draft is tomorrow and this is where Minnesota can significantly catch up on roster talent. The MLS expansion draft allows new teams to acquire talent that has already proven themselves in the league. This article isn`t really a prediction of what I think will happen. This article is going to be what I would do if I ran Minnesota and Atlanta. Let`s begin! Up first in the MLS Aces Expansion Draft is Atlanta United FC:
1. Chris Duvall (New York Red Bulls) -Atlanta United FC
I think that both teams should focus on defense in this draft. When looking at the defenders in this draft it's hard to get better skill wise and age wise than Chris Duvall. Duvall is a rightback with a ton of talent. He is my first player selected due to his age, his skill, his position, and Atlanta`s need for defenders. It would also be nice to see Duvall playing rightback with Michael Parkhurst as his partner on the right side of the defense.
2. Jared Watts (Colorado Rapids) - Minnesota United FC
Jared Watts seemed to make a name for himself this season. He was part of a defense that was nearly impenetrable in Colorado. Watts is a physical player that has proven he can fight attackers off the ball. I also like this pick because Watt has proven he can play in the cold weather. Watts will be a nice addition to Justin Davis, Kevin Venegas, and Joe Greenspan (who was also his teammate last season).
3. Atiba Harris (FC Dallas) - Atlanta United FC
Like I said I would focus on defense heavily. If I am Atlanta United I am going to build a backline that will heavily protect the possible incoming Brad Guzan. Having Chris Duvall at rightback, Michael Parkhurst at one centerback, and now Atiba Harris at leftback is a very good start. He is fast and able to push up the field. Similar to Watts he is used to the climate of the hot south during the Summer MLS months.
4. Clint Irwin (Toronto FC) - Minnesota United FC
A goalkeeper? Really? Yes! Irwin is a capable goal keeper in this league and has proved it every year. I am a huge fan of Irwin and he adds strength to any defense. Give me Irwin, Watts, and other capable defenders and this defense has a starting point to be good. I am okay with Irwin being selected here by Minnesota.
5. Bobby Boswell (D.C. United) - Atlanta United FC
To finish off the Atlanta backline I decided to go with proven veteran Bobby Boswell. Boswell and Parkhurst at centerbacks with Duvall and Harris at the fullback positions gives Atlanta the chance to be successful next season. Give me the backline that I picked with the capable players that are already on the roster and watch at for Atlanta next season.
6. Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union) – Minnesota United FC
Edu will be a huge hit on the salary cap but I think he`s worth it. Edu is a number six on the field and is capable to add strength to that not so strong backline. Edu is a bit injury prone but when healthy he is a top player in the league. Edu is awesome giving help to the backline and I believe Venegas and Davis will appreciate that.
7. Andreas Ivanschitz (Seattle Sounders) – Atlanta United FC
Ivanschitz has proven that he can play alongside a playmaker. Ivanshcitz played very well alongside Lodiero last season and I can see him repeating that alongside Almiron. Ivanschitz is older but capable of being an effective passer and being an impact on an MLS team (proven in this year’s MLS Cup winners). Though I really don`t see this happening, I believe that adding a veteran to a mainly young squad is another positive for his selection.
8. Quincy Amarikwa (San Jose Earthquakes) –Minnesota United FC
A skillful midfielder that has the ability to score from anywhere? I`ll take him. Quincy is a super talent for MLS but he gets overlooked due to the poor play of San Jose. Maybe a new team and new teammates is what he needs to shine like he should be. Also I like him playing in front of Maurice Edu.
9. Baggio Husidc (LA Galaxy) -Atlanta United FC
Husidic isn`t a name that will jump off the paper at you but he is a solid and starter worthy MLS midfielder. Husidic`s play would be even better given the talent of Ivanschitz and Almiron alongside him. I would be 100% okay with Atlanta possibly finishing their midfield with the Galaxy talent.
10. Harry Shipp (Montreal Impact) -Minnesota United FC
When Shipp was traded from Chicago to Montreal last off season it was expected for him to flourish with his new team. He didn`t quite do that. He didn`t play awful just not well enough to secure a starting spot... or even a bench spot sometimes. Montreal isn`t a place where Shipp will be successful in his career. I think Shipp could use another move and a fresh start in MLS.
If my draft came true this is how the two lineups could possibly look:
Atlanta United FC:
GK: Brad Guzan?
RB: Chris Duvall
CB: Michael Parkhurst
CB: Bobby Boswell
LB: Atiba Harris
MID: Baggio Husidic
MID: Andreas Ivanschitz
MID: Andreas Guardado?
MID: Miguel Almiron
FOR: Kenwyne Jones
FOR: Brandon Vazquez
Minnesota United FC:
GK: Clint Irwin
CB: Jared Watts
CB: Justin Davis
CB: Kevin Venegas
CB: Joe Greenspan
CDM: Maurice Edu
CM: Harry Shipp
CM: Qunicy Amarikwa