The Vancouver Whitecaps have released one player and signed a homegrown so far this offseason but Martin Rennie’s first step to strengthening the 2012 roster will come with the expansion draft. Rennie knew the eleven players he would protect by the end of the post season training session but transactions before the draft could change that. A number of teams would be unable to protect all the players they want and may not want to lose them for nothing. The Caps could also make deals with the Impact before or after the draft for players they feel will upgrade their level of talent.
Of these players who are exempted due to being Generation Adidas or Homegrown players only Salgado, Teibert and Alderson should be considered untouchable as the others have questions. One of those questions is if Michael Nanchoff fits in Rennie’s 4-3-3 formation at wing or in the central midfield. Nizar Khalfan is taking up an international slot and will Rennie want to use that spot on a new acquisition somewhere else on the pitch. A couple of residency players that may interest the Impact are Quebecer Phillipe Davies and Kyle Porter, who trailed with Montreal but MLS rights are owned by Vancouver. Both players would help the Impact with Canadian quota numbers as they wait for their academy to bring in their homegrown talent.
The first three locks on the protected list are obvious with the face of the franchise (Hassli), their best defender (Rochat) and their leading scorer in 2012 (Camilo). The older DeMerit, their first signing, and younger Koffie will also be protected by the Whitecaps in the expansion draft. It also seems like Rennie liked what he saw from Atiba Harris, early in the season before the injury, as he was signed soon after the season ended. Initially after the season ended I did not think Davide Chiumiento would remain with Vancouver but it seems like Rennie sees a spot for him in 2012.
The final four spots could change depending on what happens prior to the draft as the Caps make calls to other clubs. Carlyle Mitchell made an impact on the backline when he arrived in September and seems to compliment DeMerit in central defense. According to reports a large amount of allocation money was used to acquire Harvey from Philadelphia and while Rochat is the number one choice at left back, Harvey is inexpensive and would be good cover on the left side.
There was no player that rose higher in the last month than Long Tan and as a bonus his marketing potential as a Chinese international in Vancouver seems like he would stick around for another season. The last spot could go in several different directions and is very close to call but I gave it to Shea Salinas for his pace, ability to play either wing and so he didn’t have to go through the expansion process for a third straight year. Of course if a player is acquired before the draft Salinas would be the first to be dropped.
At this point it is unknown whether Mustapha Jarju has a no trade clause, which would mean that he moves to the protected list. Jarju may be exposed in the draft for two reasons, the Caps don’t feel like anyone would want him based on his disappointing play or Rennie has decided that Jarju will not be part of the 2012 Whitecaps. Because of injury John Thorrington barely saw the pitch in 2011 and combine that with his salary, he seems to be an unlikely pickup.
There is only one reason Boxall doesn’t make it to the list and that is because of the limited amount of international spots. This could change if he is close to gaining a green card or if those two international spots carry over to the 2012 season. Jeb Brovsky is a player learning a new position and Montreal may not want select a someone in transition from the midfield to the backline.
It sounds like the Impact’s goalkeeper position is in decent shape which makes it unlikely they select anyone. This allows the Whitecaps the ability to leave both Cannon and Nolly off the protected list knowing both will be available for next season. There are some who saw the training sessions that think fan favourite Greg Janicki may have played his way onto the roster but his lack of playing time in 2011 will not get him protected.
There may be limited room on the roster for Peter Vagenas and Jonathan Leathers who play two positions, CM and RB, that need major upgrading. Bilal Duckett rarely saw the pitch as he saw time in reserve games, and then injured during post season camp. Most likely Duckett will benefit from moving down a level to work on his game before another opportunity in MLS arrives.