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Orlando City Releases Protected List for MLS Expansion Draft

FC Cincinnati can choose one of eight unprotected Lions.

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City has released its protected list for tomorrow’s 2018 MLS Expansion Draft. The draft, scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, will be the first mechanism for FC Cincinnati to add up to five players to its inaugural MLS roster, but no more than one player can be selected from any existing team.

Additionally, the five teams that lost players to LAFC in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft — Columbus Crew SC, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, and Toronto FC — are exempt from participating in tomorrow’s draft.

Each of the other 18 MLS teams may protect 11 players on their senior, supplemental, and reserve rosters, even if the player’s contract expires at the end of the calendar year. Homegrown Players, such as Mason Stajduhar and Cam Lindley, are exempt.

Orlando City has chosen to protect the following players:

  • Tesho Akindele
  • Carlos Ascues
  • Josué Colmán
  • Dom Dwyer
  • Mohamed El-Munir
  • Adam Grinwis
  • Chris Mueller
  • Shane O’Neill
  • Oriol Rosell
  • Amro Tarek
  • Yoshimar Yotún

There are no big surprises here. Most of the above list consists of the club’s most important players, but also some younger players that look to fit into the Lions’ future plans (Mueller, O’Neill, Colmán, etc.).

The Lions have left the following players unprotected:

  • RJ Allen
  • Pierre Da Silva
  • Cristian Higuita
  • Will Johnson
  • Sacha Kljestan
  • Stefano Pinho
  • Dillon Powers
  • Lamine Sané

There aren’t many surprises here either. Sané, Kljestan, and Johnson carry high price tags that will likely not appeal to FC Cincinnati, and most of the others are either deemed expendable based on playing time in 2018 or don’t seem to be in the club’s future plans. Da Silva was left unprotected a year ago for LAFC but obviously wasn’t selected. The most surprising name on the second list is Higuita, who could be lost for nothing. His salary is fairly high ($581,662.67 total compensation in 2018) and Orlando has several defensive midfielders, but leaving the Colombian unprotected is risky because he could bring value on the market.

Here is the full list of MLS players available for selection. Cincinnati may select Lions who did not have their contract options picked up, such as Joe Bendik or Scott Sutter, in addition to those listed above. However, that is unlikely, as they will become available through other mechanisms.