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Loons Opt for Potential in MLS Expansion Draft

by on 13 December 2016

Minnesota United FC picked up five players from the Expansion Draft, including young fullback Chris Duvall. Minnesota United opted for youth rather than pick up some of the more experienced players available. Atlanta made a few picks with an eye for trades. Both teams defied almost every outside observer’s predictions.

Atlanta United threw the first wrench into the works by taking Danny Toia, a player few observers had in their mock expansion drafts (though, to be honest, no one’s mock drafts looked anything like the reality).

Minnesota United took fullback Chris Duvall with their first pick, a player many people thought could be the top pick overall. Duvall comes from a very successful New York Red Bulls and will make only a small splash against the salary cap, making $63,000. The Loons went on to trade Duvall away to the Montreal Impact for winger Johan Venegas. This could mean two Venegases (Venegii, our style guide has not been updated yet) bombing down the right flank for the Loons. Venegas would likely be an instant starter for Minnesota.

Minnesota went on to draft two solid central midfielders in Collen Warner and Mohammed Saied. Warner comes from the Houston Dynamo, having played almost 2000 minutes in 2016. Saied, the only pick to take up an international spot, comes from Columbus Crew and will be a likely guaranteed starter in 2017.

The Loons took goalkeeper Jeff Attinella with their fourth pick, a keeper Manny Lagos is very familiar with, having faced him in the 2012 NASL final. Attinella left the Tampa Bay Rowdies after defeating the Minnesota Stars in that final and spent the years since as a solid deputy for Nick Rimando.

[Femi] would provide one of the league’s newest clubs with an attacking firestarter capable of developing into a solid MLS contributor.”
-The Bent Musket

With their final pick, Minnesota took a pick slightly from left field by targeting New England’s Femi Hollinger-Janzen. A young forward drafted in 2016, Janzen made 19 appearances (almost exclusively from the bench) in his rookie season. The Bent Musket, a New England Revolution website, anticipated potentially losing Femi, writing, “Should either club select Femi, the move would evoke memories of Patrick Mullins’ expansion-draft departure in 2014. And it would provide one of the league’s newest clubs with an attacking firestarter capable of developing into a solid MLS contributor.”

Atlanta further surprised observers by drafting two goalkeepers, Clint Irwin and Alec Kann, despite already having one goalkeeper on the books and finalizing a deal to bring in Brad Guzan. At least one of these players will almost certainly be used in a trade.

With their second pick, Atlanta took Zach Loyd from FC Dallas, a solid center back who has started for Dallas ever since he joined the team in 2010. Atlanta’s final pick was Mikey Ambrose, a defender who only played 400 minutes for Orlando City.

More than one observer thought that Colorado’s Jared Watts would be a guaranteed pick for one of the expansion teams, but he and the Rapids escaped notice. FiftyFive.One’s Jeff Rueter reported that as part of the trade that sent the Rapids’ Joe Greenspan to Minnesota, the Loons agreed to not pick any players from Colorado.

Both teams opted for smaller contract hits with Atlanta picking up a total of $512k against the salary cap and Minnesota taking $502k against the cap.

Minnesota United’s Picks

2. Chris Duvall (NYRB)
4. Collen Warner (HOU)
6. Mohammed Saied (CLB)
8. Jeff Attinella (RSL)
10. Femi Hollinger-Janzen (NER)

Atlanta United’s Picks

1. Donny Toia (MON)
3. Zach Loyd (FCD)
5. Clint Irwin (TOR)
7. Alec Kann (SKC)
9. Mikey Ambrose (ORL)

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