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SB Nation’s Mock Expansion Draft: Orlando City’s Protected List

Here’s who The Mane Land thinks Orlando City should protect in the Expansion Draft this month.

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Expansion Draft is coming up quick. In just under two weeks, Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United will each make five selections from a list of unprotected players from all 20 current rosters across the league.

The draft will take place at 12 p.m. on Dec. 13. Orlando City must protect 11 players on its senior roster ahead of time, a number that excludes Homegrown Players and Generation Adidas players that hadn’t graduated by the end of the 2016 season.

Here’s who The Mane Land has Orlando City protecting ahead of the draft, in preparation for the SB Nation Mock Expansion Draft:

Protected XI

  1. Jose Aja
  2. Kaká
  3. Kevin Molino
  4. Rafael Ramos
  5. Antonio Nocerino
  6. Mikey Ambrose
  7. Cyle Larin
  8. Cristian Higuita
  9. Joe Bendik
  10. Hadji Barry
  11. Matias Perez Garcia

Automatically Protected

  1. Harrison Heath (HGP)
  2. Conor Donovan (GA)
  3. Tommy Redding (HGP)
  4. Mason Stajduhar (HGP)
  5. Richie Laryea (GA)

Remaining Unprotected Players

  1. Brek Shea
  2. Tony Rocha
  3. Bryan Rochez
  4. Earl Edwards Jr.
  5. David Mateos
  6. Devron Garcia
  7. Servando Carrasco
  8. Carlos Rivas

There’s various reasons for why some players are and aren’t on the protected list, and some are more obvious than others, including special rules for international players.

Some of the notable unprotected, of course, are Brek Shea and Carlos Rivas. Both are talented players costing the team a lot of money and played well under that value. I can’t see either expansion team taking Rivas, but Paul McDonough and Shea have a close relationship, which ultimately brought Shea to Orlando in the first place, so I could see Shea ending up in Atlanta when it is all said and done. And I don’t think Orlando would be too upset about that happening.

Jose Aja was kind of difficult to project because we don’t yet know if Orlando City will be picking up his buy-option this winter, but the signs point towards it happening so we’re going into this assuming Aja will be on the roster for the foreseeable future. In that event, the club will protect him without hesitation.

SB Nation’s two expansion blogs — E Pluribus Loonum and Dirty South Soccer — participated in a mock expansion draft this week using exposed players from our list and those of the other 19 MLS sites. The results from that draft will go live next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that.