Expansion St. Louis City FC gets to grow its roster Friday via the MLS expansion draft.
The league's 29th team already has 12 players on its roster including two designated players — German midfielder Eduard Lowen and Brazilian forward Joao Klauss — as well as Canadian defender Kyle Hiebert.
St. Louis can select up to five players from the eligible expansion pool, but only a single player from any one club. Teams that have a player selected will receive US$50,000 in general allocation money.
Austin FC, Atlanta United, D.C. United, Los Angeles FC and New York City FC are exempt from the draft because they lost players to Charlotte FC in the 2021 expansion draft.
The other 23 MLS clubs were able to protect 12 players from their senior and supplemental rosters. Homegrown players 25 and under on a club’s roster at the end of the 2022 season are automatically protected.
There are big names available, but usually they come with a catch.
While CF Montreal made captain Victor Wanyama available, the former Kenya skipper has already said he is moving on from MLS. Veteran Whitecap midfielder Russell Teibert, who is recovering from ankle surgery, is also unprotected.
The Red Bulls made available defender Aaron Long, who has won 29 caps for the U.S. and is going to Qatar. But the 30-year-old centre back is out of contract and could be headed to Europe.
Toronto FC's unprotected list essentially covers players already with one foot out the door in goalkeepers Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg, who like Canadian international defender Doneil Henry are out of contract. Fullback Auro spent last season on loan in his native Brazil. Forward Ifunanyachi Achara has already said his farewells via social media.
The Whitecaps' unprotected list included Janio Bikel, David Egbo and Evan Newton, three players the club had already said would not be returning in 2023. Other Vancouver players available include Derek Cornelius (on loan with Greece's Panetolikos FC, through December), Cody Cropper, Marcus Godinho, Jake Nerwinski, Leonard Owusu and Tosaint Ricketts, all of whom have contract options that the club has yet to exercise.
Former TFC players made available include goalkeeper Clint Irwin, defenders Steven Beitashour and Drew Moor and midfielder Collen Warner (all Colorado), defender Eriq Zavaleta (Los Angeles Galaxy) and goalkeeper Joe Bendik (Philadelphia Union). Moor, 38, has already announced his retirement.
Inter Miami also made available former TFC designated player Alejandro Pozuelo, who is out of contract.
Minnesota did not protect Canadian defender Callum Montgomery while Orlando City made Canadian forward Tesho Akindele available.
Veterans available include former Whitecap defender Tim Parker (Houston Dynamo), midfielders Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia), Dax McCarty (Nashville) and Wil Trapp (Minnesota), and forwards Gustavo Bou (New England) and Patryk Klimala (New York Red Bulls).
Players from Canadian teams eligible for selection in MLS expansion draft:
Zorhan Bassong, Sebastian Breza, Rudy Camacho, Gabriele Corbo, Ahmed Hamdi, Sunusi Ibrahim, Bjorn Johnsen, Logan Ketterer, Jojea Kwizera, Chinonso Offor, Robert Thorkelsson, Victor Wanyama.
Ifunanyachi Achara, Auro Jr., Alex Bono, Kadin Chung, Doneil Henry, Greg Ranjitsingh, Quentin Westberg.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Janio Bikel, Derek Cornelius, Cody Cropper, Cristian Dajome, David Egbo, Marcus Godinho, Cristian Gutierrez, Florian Jungwirth, Luis Martins, Jake Nerwinski, Evan Newton, Leonard Owusu, Ryan Raposo, Tosaint Ricketts, Russell Teibert.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press