Last night's painfully ugly MLS Cup victory for the Colorado Rapids over FC Dallas marked the end of the 2010 Major League Soccer season. Now that the season is over, it is officially time to start looking at the offseason and what moves teams will make during the next few months off.
There is no rest for the weary as the trade window briefly opened this morning and team protected lists are due early this afternoon. Few, if any, trades have been made so far (none of note thus far), so it seems all of the teams are focused on trying to finalize their protected lists.
Over the last few weeks there has been great deal of discussion amongst the media and fans as to who all the Houston Dynamo coaching staff would decide to protect. There are a few obvious choices for protection, but for the first time in a few seasons, there are some tough choices to be made and the Dynamo could very easily lose two players.
What fans do know, though, is that Houston's protected list will be a good indicator of the direction the club wants to head in the future. Protected young, raw players would signify a long-term plan of developing talent and trading for veterans as needed, whereas protecting older players would signify a belief that experience trumps youth.
A further wrinkle in this whole process is that the two expansion teams, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, have strong ties to this Houston Dynamo squad. A number of players are from Canada and the northwest corner of the United Sates and a move to either could be attractive, and former Houston Dynamo assistant and reserve team coach John Spencer is now the head coach for the Portland Timbers and is very familiar with the current Dynamo roster.
All that being said, let's look at the rules and then the lists of who the Houston Dynamo should protect.
Here is a brief refresher on the rules for player protection.
- MLS Clubs may protect 11 players between their Senior and their Developmental Roster.
- Players on a Club's Developmental Roster, other than Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2010 MLS Season or Home Grown Players on a Club's developmental roster, will be part of the expansion draft.
- Generation adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2010 MLS Season and Home Grown Players on a Club's developmental roster at the end of the 2010 MLS Season are automatically protected.
- Clubs are restricted in the number of international player(s) that they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of international players equal to their total number of international players minus three, provided that if a Club has three or fewer international players it may make available not more than one.
- Designated players are NOT automatically protected (i.e., Clubs must choose whether to protect such players and if such player is not protected, he will be available for selection in the Expansion Draft). However, if the Designated Player has a no-trade clause in his contract, then his MLS club must protect him and he will count as one of the 11 players who may be protected.
- Maximum Player Loss: Once two (2) players have been claimed from a Club's non-protected roster, that Club is eliminated from the expansion draft and may not lose any further players. In addition, once a player has been claimed from a Club's non-protected roster, that Club may move a player from its non-protected roster to its protected roster.
And since there has been some discussion amongst Houston fans and media, this list is the combined work of members of one of Houston's supporters groups, media members, and the SBNation staff.
|Jordan Wise||Zach Woosley||Joe Offebacher||Brian Zygo||Jame Hromadka||Ray Escamilla|
|SBN Houston||Dynamo Theory||Transfermarkt||Zygo Soccer Report & The Orange Slice (1560)||Texian Army/Season Ticket Holder||Texian Army/Season Ticket Holder|
|Colin Clark||Corey Ashe||Sammy Appiah*||Sammy Appiah*||Corey Ashe||Colin Clark|
|Anthony Obodai*||Sammy Appiah*||Corey Ashe||Joseph Ngwenya||Anthony Obodai*||Anthony Obodai*|
|Bobby Boswell||Bobby Boswell||Bobby Boswell||Bobby Boswell||Bobby Boswell||Bobby Boswell|
|Geoff Cameron||Geoff Cameron||Geoff Cameron||Geoff Cameron||Geoff Cameron||Geoff Cameron|
|Mike Chabala||Mike Chabala||Mike Chabala||Mike Chabala||Mike Chabala||Mike Chabala|
|Brian Ching||Brian Ching||Brian Ching||Brian Ching||Brian Ching||Brian Ching|
|Dominic Oduro||Dominic Oduro||Colin Clark||Dominic Oduro||Dominic Oduro||Dominic Oduro|
|Brad Davis||Brad Davis||Brad Davis||Brad Davis||Brad Davis||Brad Davis|
|Tally Hall||Tally Hall||Tally Hall||Tally Hall||Tally Hall||Tally Hall|
|Andrew Hainault*||Andrew Hainault*||Andrew Hainault*||Andrew Hainault*||Andrew Hainault*||Andrew Hainault*|
|Lovel Palmer*||Lovel Palmer*||Lovel Palmer*||Lovel Palmer*||Lovel Palmer*||Lovel Palmer*|
|Ryan Cochrane||Ryan Cochrane||Ryan Cochrane||Ryan Cochrane||Ryan Cochrane||Ryan Cochrane|
|Richard Mulrooney||Richard Mulrooney||Richard Mulrooney||Richard Mulrooney||Richard Mulrooney||Richard Mulrooney|
|Joseph Ngwenya||Joseph Ngwenya||Joseph Ngwenya||Colin Clark||Joseph Ngwenya||Joseph Ngwenya|
|Corey Ashe||Anthony Obodai*||Anthony Obodai*||Anthony Obodai*||Colin Clark||Sammy Appiah*|
|Sammy Appiah*||Colin Clark||Dominic Oduro||Corey Ashe||Sammy Appiah*||Corey Ashe|
|Pat Onstad||Pat Onstad||Pat Onstad||Pat Onstad||Pat Onstad||Pat Onstad|
|Eddie Robinson||Eddie Robinson||Eddie Robinson||Eddie Robinson||Eddie Robinson||Eddie Robinson|
|Adrian Serioux*||Adrian Serioux*||Adrian Serioux*||Adrian Serioux*||Adrian Serioux*||Adrian Serioux*|
|Cam Weaver||Cam Weaver||Cam Weaver||Cam Weaver||Cam Weaver||Cam Weaver|
|Automatically Protected||Automatically Protected||Automatically Protected||Automatically Protected||Automatically Protected||Automatically Protected|
|Danny Cruz**||Danny Cruz**||Danny Cruz**||Danny Cruz**||Danny Cruz**||Danny Cruz**|
|Francisco Navas Cobo***||Francisco Navas Cobo***||Francisco Navas Cobo***||Francisco Navas Cobo***||Francisco Navas Cobo***||Francisco Navas Cobo***|
|Tyler Deric***||Tyler Deric***||Tyler Deric***||Tyler Deric***||Tyler Deric***||Tyler Deric***|
|* Denotes International Roster Spot|
|** Denotes Generation Adidas|
|*** Denotes Homegrown Player|
Ultimately, there are not too many surprises in the combined lists, but the omissions and differences are interesting and worth discussing.
The eight players that everyone picked to protect were Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Mike Chabala, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, and Lovel Palmer. This group consists of a good mix of veteran players and young talent and is a group that all fans should be happy with.
The remaining three spots are where things start to get interesting. Here are the names that were chosen for those spots: Colin Clark, Corey Ashe, Dominic Oduro, Anothony Obodai, Joseph Ngwenya, and Sammy Appiah
Ngwenya's inclusion in this group was limited to one selection and should be left on the exposed list. While he is a decent goalscorer and brings some creativity to the field, it is unlikely that any team (other than Houston) will pay his relatively high salary and want him (Verdict: Exposed).
Sammy Appiah v. Anthony Obodai
The two midfielders were evenly split at three inclusions for protection each. Both players are internationals and, unless someone chose Serioux, one of them almost has to be protected (Hainault and Palmer fill the other two required-protection international spots).
Appiah is a bit of an unknown as his playing time was limited throughout the season. Also, he will be 26 years at the start of the 2011 season and may be a bit "old" for the Dynamo to take a risk on. On the other hand, Obodai ended the season in the training room and has been drawing a six-figure salary. Obodai showed flashes of brilliance in the midfield but was largely inconsistent prior to his injury. One has to wonder if the coaching staff has a gamble with Obodai and leaves him unprotected because of his salary. (Verdict: Appiah- Exposed; Obodai - Protected).
Colin Clark v. Corey Ashe
On the balance of the panel, Ashe narrowly edges out Clark for protection after pulling in three votes to Clark's two (Zygo left both off in favor of Ngwenya). This decision for the Dynamo coaches may be the toughest of the day. With Ashe, you have a player who does a decent job of filling in as a back-up but is unlikely to ever take the starting job from Brad Davis, Danny Cruz, or Colin Clark. Ashe has loads of speed and has improved his crossing and passing, but never seems to be a genuine goal-scoring threat. On top of that, he has already expressed interest in leaving the team if he is not offered a high enough contract.
Colin Clark is a player with tons of promise and potential, but has not played in months due to a knee injury. Everything on this kid says that he is lethal on the wings when he's healthy and that Houston moving for him was a good deal. You have to think that the team values Clark and that trading veteran midfielder Brian Mullan for him is a vote of confidence. But, the coaching staff not seeing him play in orange could prove to be too much for them to protect him. Also, would either team be willing to gamble a draft pick on a player with a knee injury? (Verdict: Ashe - Exposed; Clark - Protected).
Oduro is a player most would have left off of the protected list last season, but after a year that ended with him as the team's second highest scorer and full of confidence, the team almost has to protect him. Forwards are a strange bunch in any league and they (just like fast outside players) are always in demand. While it would be surprising if either Portland and Vancouver chose Oduro, he is too valuable to leave exposed. (Verdict: Protected).
It would not be too shocking if the Houston Dynamo submitted a list similar to ours. Ultimately, the team will look to keep a good mix of young, promising talent and older, experienced players. Leaving teammates like Ryan Cochrane, Richard Mulrooney, Pat Onstad, Adrian Serioux and Cam Weaver will be tough, but if the club wants to improve and try to win another MLS Cup, they have to be willing to part with players that simply are not good enough.
The formal list is due to the Major League Soccer office on November 22. Once it is released, we will share it and debate any interesting exclusions/inclusions.
Don't forget to check out Dynamo Theory daily for all the most up to date Houston Dynamo news, rumors, and opinions.