Exposing FC Dallas’ MLS Expansion Draft protected list

The 2021 MLS expansion draft for Charlotte FC will take place on December 14th, just over a week from now. The list of eligible players will drop one day before.  Charlotte will pick five players and any given MLS club can only lose one. 

FC Dallas – as you will see below – can literally protect every player remaining on the roster and even protect one who is not.  The key for FCD is that Generation adidas players and Homegrowns are automatically protected.  So FCD’s auto-protect list is a massive 12 players, you can find it down below.

Let’s proceed.

FC Dallas Protected List

Here’s my prediction for the FCD protected list.  Each team protects up to 12 players.

1Matt Hedges
2Ryan Hollingshead
3Franco Jara
4Jose Martinez
5Jimmy Maurer
6Szabolcs Schön
7Jáder Obrian
8Facundo Quignon
9Nkosi Tafari
10Ema Twumasi
11Nicky Hernandez

Wait… Bressan?

Let me explain.

FC Dallas has an open 12th slot to protect someone if they wish. They could leave it empty.

Now consider these two rules: “If a club protects a player, the club is not obligated to exercise the player’s option. The club may renegotiate a new contract with the player as in previous years, subject to the CBA” and “Free agents are not automatically protected and are eligible for selection.”

So I looked at the players FCD declined contract options for or that had contracts expire and tried to decide who has the most value. Bryan Acosta and Bressan seem the two most likely.

Caiser Gomes, Phelipe Megiolaro, Andrés Ricaurte, and Freddy Vargas were all on loans that ended. They would all require new loan deals or buys to be made.

Johnny Nelson – who post-recovery FCD could look to bring back in theory – is high risk for a pick because his health won’t be known till about March. Heck, if Charlotte wants to run that risk, then good for Johnny since he played at UNC and might like a shot at a new team.

Kyle Zobeck is a long shot for protection too, I suppose.

Bressan seems like the name that someone in MLS might trade you a bag of balls for his MLS negotiating rights. There were times last year he was FCD’s best defender. He’s also a good leader and a great teammate in the locker room. The only reason I said FCD should decline him (as they did) was that he was the only old/expensive center back the club could drop. Martinez and Hedges are locked in.

So protect Bressan. Trade his rights if someone wants him. Or if you can’t find a young center back to replace him with, bring him back on a reduced salary (if he’ll take it). He likely has many options in other leagues obviously.

Acosta is more costly and while he was arguably FCD’s MVP on the first third of the season (when they were awful) he has been poor since he started getting call-ups this year and he has been poor with Honduras.

FC Dallas Exposed List

So, technically, here’s who will be draftable from FC Dallas if the club goes with my protected list above. In all cases, Charlotte would be picking the right to negotiate with these players.

Bryan AcostaOption declined. Still in good playing form at times and was the club’s early-season MVP… but then went south. Kind of expensive.
Caiser GomesOn loan to NTX, then loaned and signed by FCD, but loaned back to NTX to play… and all of those loans have ended. I do expect NTX to re-do his loan or buy him for 2022 but right now he belongs to his club in Portugal.
PhelipeBuy option declined, loan ended.
Johnny NelsonAs mentioned, his option was declined. The back injury makes him a risky pick. GA salary-cap protection has ended.
Andres RicaurteBuy option declined, loan ended.
Freddy VargasBuy option declined, loan ended.
Kyle ZobeckOut of contract. He’s a free agent and can sign with anyone.

FC Dallas Automatic Protection List

This is the key for Los Toros. They have a massive list of automatically protected players.  It’s a side benefit to having so many Homegrowns 25 and under.

Edwin CerrilloHomegrown
Justin CheHomegrown
Kalil ElMedkharHomegrown
Jesus FerreiraHomegrown
Eddie MunjomaHomegrown
Ricardo PepiHomegrown
Paxton PomykalHomegrown
Beni RedžicHomegrown
Thomas RobertsHomegrown
Dante SealyHomegrown
Brandon ServaniaHomegrown
Collin SmithHomegrown

One quick reminder on Johnny Nelson, as mentioned above his three years as Generation adidas are up (he was signed during his sophomore year of school) so he loses his automatic protection like Ema Twumasi did last year.

Expansion Draft Rules

I’ve tried to simplify these rules.

The following five teams that had players selected by Austin FC during the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft and are exempt from the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft: San Jose Earthquakes, New York Red Bulls, Nashville SC, LA Galaxy, Orlando City SC.

If a player’s contract expires at the end of 2021, he is still part of the club’s Roster.

If a club protects a player, the club is not obligated to exercise the player’s option and may renegotiate a new contract. 

Free Agents are not automatically protected and are eligible for selection.

Generation adidas players who have not graduated and Homegrown Players (ages 25 and under) are automatically protected.

Designated Players are not automatically protected.

If a player has a no-trade clause in his contract, his MLS club must protect him in their 12 player list.

If a player retires, he will not be a part of the Expansion Draft, but his club will lose its right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to re-enter the league.


  1. What does “homegrown” mean in this context? Because Jesus and Paxton aren’t on Homegrown contracts anymore (right?), but they’re still homegrown players in the sense that they were originally signed from FCD’s academy.
    “Generation adidas players who have not graduated and Homegrown Players (ages 25 and under) are automatically protected.”

    1. You basically have it right. Homegrown just means “from the Academy” essentially.
      in this case it’s Homegrowns under 25 that matter (aka still developing).
      If Ulloa were still here he would still be a Homegrown, but not under 25.

      The distinction that is confusing is that homegrown under a certain contract number can be on the Supplemental roster and not count on the salary cap. Moving up the senior roster, like Paxton or Jesus, just means they don’t get that cap protection. They remain Homegrowns.

  2. Seems like no tough decisions on exposure here. Like you said, the big advantage for FCD is having so many Homegrown players automatically protected.

    I’d be curious to see if FCD would try to trade any guys. I feel like Obrian may be the perfect fool’s gold trade to make. 9 goals in his first MLS season is just the type of Roland Lamah-esque season that may pique an expansion club’s attention. That said, I’m not sure if anything Charlotte provides in return is really worth much, unless they were to snag a player from another team’s available pool and trade him to Dallas.

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