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NYCFC reveal protected/unprotected players for 2019 MLS Expansion Draft

Analyzing City’s decisions ahead of the first key date of the offseason

MLS: Portland Timbers at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the year again. To ensure that new teams entering the league — this year, those teams being Inter Miami and Nashville SC — get an opportunity to grab players who can possibly make an impact on their club, Major League Soccer is hosting the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft this Tuesday in which both Miami and Nashville can draft up to five players each from a list of players who are unprotected by their clubs.

With tons of valuable assets currently contracted to their team, New York City FC have their work cut out for them as they attempt to see who’s worth keeping and who’s worth leaving exposed to the ten-pick draft.

The 2019 Expansion Draft could very well be considered the first key date in the lead up to the 2020 MLS season and could have lasting effects on the teams drafting (LAFC’s Latif Blessing was picked in the 2017 Expansion Draft and has made quite the career for himself since) and the teams that could be forced to relinquish valuable players within their systems.

Earlier today, NYCFC revealed who they would be protecting from the Expansion Draft and who will be exposed to the likes of Miami and Nashville.

Let’s go through each individual list and evaluate them. For clarity, Homegrown Players James Sands, Joe Scally, and Justin Haak were automatically protected from the draft and did not require a protection slot. Also, if NYCFC has a player that is drafted by an expansion team in the draft, the team is safe from any further picks.


1. Alexander Callens

2. Valentin Castellanos (International)

3. Maxime Chanot

4. Héber (International)

5. Sean Johnson

6. Ronald Matarrita

7. Alexandru Mitriță (International)

8. Maxi Moralez (International)

9. Keaton Parks

10. Alexander Ring

11. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

12. Anton Tinnerholm ​​​​​​​

Analysis: Not many surprises here as the protected list contains players that would be considered perennial starters for NYCFC. One name that does jump out, however, is that of Keaton Parks. The Texan absolutely deserves to be protected, but was only a one-season loan to City from Benfica. NYCFC using a slot (they only get 12) to protect him leads me to believe that New York City is looking to maybe extend his stay in the Bronx, if not outright buy him.

The bitter part of me is kinda mad to see Ronald Matarrita as a protected player — I’m still not over that dumb penalty he conceded against Toronto FC last month that sent us out of the playoffs. But whatever, I guess it makes sense.

Apart from that, no problems from me on this front.


1. Luis Barraza

2. Daniel Bedoya

3. Jeff Caldwell

4. Sebastien Ibeagha

5. Gary Mackay-Steven

6. Jesus Medina

7. Eric Miller

8. Abdi Mohamed

9. Ebenezer Ofori

10. Tony Rocha

11. Brad Stuver

12. Ben Sweat

13. Juan Pablo Torres

Analysis: Like the protected list, not many surprises to speak of when it comes to who NYCFC’s front office chose not to protect. But one name is sure to stick out like a sore thumb: Designated Player Jesus Medina.

For Medina, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. As a DP, the young Paraguayan has missed a lot more than he’s hit and has generally been a huge disappointment, especially compared to other DP’s like Maxi Moralez and Alexandru Mitrita. And with two seasons still remaining on his contract and a bigger contract than he probably deserves, it isn’t likely that any time is rushing to take him off City’s hands. Leaving him unprotected is likely a Hail Mary attempt from NYCFC to offload damaged goods and hope that either Miami or Nashville see something in him to take a chance. Sorry, Jesus. But business is business.

A name that definitely could seem desirable to other teams is that of Ben Sweat. The reliable backup left back/center back could be a key cog in a developing team. MLS’s website even predicted that he could be picked first had he been left exposed to the draft.