Predicting who Atlanta United won’t protect in expansion draft

September 10, 2021 Atlanta - Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda celebrates with Atlanta United's midfielder Matheus Rossetto (9) after they won over Orlando City in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Friday, September 10, 2021. Atlanta United won 3-0 over Orlando City. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
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September 10, 2021 Atlanta - Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda celebrates with Atlanta United's midfielder Matheus Rossetto (9) after they won over Orlando City in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Friday, September 10, 2021. Atlanta United won 3-0 over Orlando City. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

MLS will make available Monday the players eligible for selection by Charlotte in Tuesday’s MLS expansion draft.

Charlotte will select as many as five players. Twenty-two of the league’s 27 teams will participate. Atlanta United is one of those teams.

Each of the teams can protect as many as 12 of its players. Once a team loses a player it can pull back its remaining four players.

Designated Players, in Atlanta United’s case Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco and Luiz Araujo, are not automatically protected. Homegrown signings, and Atlanta United has a lot of those, are automatically protected.

Who I think Atlanta United will protect

Luiz Araujo

Ezequiel Barco

Alan Franco

Andrew Gutman

Brad Guzan

Franco Ibarra

Brooks Lennon

Josef Martinez

Marcelino Moreno

Miles Robinson

Santiago Sosa

Anton Walkes

Notes: I originally had Escobar on this list but the team traded him to LAFC on Sunday.

I think the team will protect Walkes as cover for its centerbacks. He’s an experienced and valuable starter.

Guzan’s status is a bit up in the air. A captain, he had another solid season but has a high salary ($805,000) and is 37 years old.

Who is automatically protected

George Bello, Homegrown

George Campebell, Homegrown

Machop Chol, Homegrown

Jackson Conway, Homegrown

Efrain Morales, Homegrown

Bryce Washington, Homegrown

Tyler Wolff, Homegrown

Who I think they will leave unprotected

Mo Adams

Mikey Ambrose

Josh Bauer

Jurgen Damm

Alex De John

Emerson Hyndman

Alec Kann

Erik Lopez

Ben Lundgaard

Jake Mulraney

Matheus Rossetto

Amar Sejdic

Erick Torres

Notes: The team didn’t pick up contract options for Adams, Bauer, Kann, Lundgaard and Torres, so they won’t be protected.

The biggest surprises on this list are likely Hyndman, Lopez and Rossetto.

Lopez was hyped by club President Darren Eales and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra before last season as a player with potential. That potential wasn’t realized last season. He scored just one goal and frequently didn’t make the gameday rosters. Plus, he has a salary of $508,300.

Hyndman missed most of last season because of a knee injury. That, combined with a high salary ($900,000), means Charlotte likely won’t select him so he may as well be left unprotected.

That leaves Rossetto. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rossetto is protected at the expense of either Walkes or Guzan (because of his high salary). Rossetto is a player that splits opinion. He has 36 appearances for the club but played just two standout games. He likely doesn’t have a high trade value. He’s a midfielder that doesn’t seem to excel in any one area. He has no goals, no assists and his expected goals and expected assists barely rise above 0.00. Plus, he has a very high salary ($662,500). Plus, if the team is considering changing its formation as Pineda and Bocanegra have said, Rossetto’s preferred defensive/central midfield position may no longer be a part of the plan.

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