2015 MLS Expansion Draft: Orlando, NYCFC start to build

NYCFC OCSC Orlando City

Staff Writer

Major League Soccer expansion sides Orlando City and New York City FC got an opportunity to build their rosters with Wednesday’s expansion draft. Orlando had the first pick in each round, and used that advantage to take Donovan Ricketts. New York City managed to pick a pair of Jason Kreis’ old players to bookend their selections.

Orlando City

  1. Donovan Ricketts, keeper, Portland Timbers: With the draft’s first pick, Orlando grabbed a keeper, a move that surprised some given that they traded for Tally Hall on Monday. At 37, Ricketts remains a regular with the Jamaican national team, and was voted MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010 and 2013.
  2. Tony Cascio, midfielder, Colorado Rapids: Having taken a veteran, Orlando went for youth with the 24-year-old Cascio. He’s made 42 appearances for the Rapids since being selected in the 2012 SuperDraft, and scored four goals over that span.
  3. Jalil Anibaba, defender, Seattle Sounders: Seattle traded for Anibaba at the start of the 2014 season, but he didn’t get as much playing time as he did in Chicago. He was promptly sent to Kansas City, as part of the deal in which Orlando acquired Aurelien Collin.
  4. Pedro Ribeiro, midfielder, Philadelphia Union: The 24-year-old Brazilian was a rookie in MLS this year, but made more appearances in USL Pro than with the Union. He scored twice in eight appearances at the MLS level.
  5. Lewis Neal, defender, DC United: Neal made 27 starts for DC’s league-best defense in 2014, but he is 33 and so was left unprotected. The Lions get back a piece of their history with this pick; Neal was a member of Orlando City’s inaugural USL Pro season in 2011.
  6. Jairo Arrieta, forward, Columbus Crew SC: After spending most of his career in his native Costa Rica, Arrieta came to MLS in 2012. He’s scored 17 goals in 67 appearances for the Crew.
  7. Heath Pearce, defender, Montreal Impact: Pearce has missed a lot of time due to injuries in recent years, but he’s still only 30. Orlando will be his fourth team in seven years in MLS
  8. Danny Mwanga, forward, Colorado Rapids: The first overall pick in the 2010 SuperDraft, Mwanga is only 23-years-old. He was a roommate of Amobi Okugo when the two played together with the Union.
  9. Mark Sherrod, forward, Houston Dynamo: Sherrod scored two goals in nine appearances with the Dynamo before tearing his ACL early this past season.
  10. Eric Gehrig, defender, Columbus Crew SC: Orlando rounded out their draft with another Columbus player. Gehrig made a career high 20 appearances in 2014.

New York City FC

  1. Ned Grabavoy, defender, Real Salt Lake: Jason Kreis went for one of his own. The 31-year-old Grabavoy spent five seasons under Kreis in Salt Lake, and was expected to be taken early in the draft.
  2. Patrick Mullins, forward, New England Revolution: In his rookie season, Mullins had four goals for New England but was replaced by Charlie Davies midway through the season. He had an assist in Sunday’s MLS Cup final.
  3. Jason Hernandez, defender, San Jose Earthquakes: Hernandez was born in New York, began his MLS career with the MetroStars, and now returns to his hometown. He made 20 appearances in 2014, all starts.
  4. Daniel Lovitz, midfielder, Toronto FC: The 23-year-old made 18 appearances in his first MLS season with TFC, mostly coming off the bench.
  5. Tony Taylor, forward, New England Revolution: Taylor is 25, but has already played abroad in Portugal and Cyprus. He was allocated to New England in August, but made just one appearance off the bench.
  6. Medhi Ballouchy, midfielder, Vancouver Whitecaps: The 31-year-old Moroccan has seen diminishing playing time in recent seasons.
  7. George John, defender, FC Dallas: John was injured for much of 2014, making just 12 appearances. He spent time on loan with West Ham, but never appeared for the first team.
  8. Thomas McNamara, midfielder, DC United: From West Nyack, NY, McNamara had a goal in six appearances with Chivas USA before tearing his ACL. He was picked up by DC in the dispersal draft.
  9. Sal Zizzo, midfielder, Sporting Kansas City: after time spent with Hanover 96 in Germany, Zizzo has played for three teams in five MLS seasons. He made 19 appearances in 2014.
  10. Chris Wingert, defender, Real Salt Lake: Another New Yorker, another one of Kreis’ players from Salt Lake. Wingert played under Kreis for seven seasons.

Some of the names that weren’t called might come as a surprise. Red Bulls Tim Cahill and Peguy Luyindula both went unselected, as did DC’s Eddie Johnson. Many expected Ben Speas to be taken, but Columbus protected him after Arrieta was selected.

It is worth noting, though, that these players can be traded before they ever put on a sky blue or purple shirt. MLS re-opened its trade window upon the conclusion of today’s draft, and there are still three months to go before next season begins. Famously, Montreal picked Brian Ching in 2012, only to trade him back to Houston.

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