In December, MLS will host their tenth expansion draft to welcome in Atlanta and Minnesota. In the previous nine drafts, seven of thirteen new teams selected a goalkeeper so there's a decent chance we'll see at least one goalkeeper selected. Atlanta needs two more goalkeepers - they have already signed a twenty-three year old Greek-American goalkeeper, Alexander Tambakis - while Minnesota still need to pen three.
Expansion teams are looking for one of two things when selecting a goalkeeper in an expansion draft. First, if they can get a starter at a reasonable price, they will pick them up. The "reasonable price" varies from team to team, but teams can definitely be pushed away if a player is wanting too much, regardless of how good he is. Expansion teams are allowed to renegotiate contracts with selected players but if they can't agree on a salary, it's a wasted pick. Typically teams do their homework going into the draft to avoid the problem. The second route a team can look when selecting a goalkeeper is picking up a cheap, reliable backup. A backup makes around 60-80k in 2016 and if either team has another starter in mind, it makes sense to grab a goalkeeper to solidify the position if the money lines up.
No team has released names for the expansion draft yet so it's hard to say who will and won't be protected. On top of that, each team will only get five picks each this year, so it's not unlikely that both will pass on goalkeepers entirely. However, there are a number of goalkeepers we could see getting selected in the expansion draft.
1. Sean Johnson
The five-timed capped goalkeeper is most likely on his way out of Chicago. Johnson hails from Georgia so it would make sense geographically-speaking for Atlanta to pick up the goalkeeper. However, after another mediocre year at $250,000, neither team is exactly foaming at the mouth to select him. If Johnson agrees to a pay cut, or if one of the teams is willing to spend big, Johnson could see himself relocate for 2017.
2. Zac MacMath
It'll come down to the cost but the twenty-five year old has made it clear he wants to play. Most would agree that MacMath has reached the quality to start for an MLS team and at $140,000, he isn't a bad buy. If MacMath isn't selected in the expansion draft, he'll probably leave Colorado soon after either way. There's a place for MacMath to play, it might be with the new expansions or it might be elsewhere.
3. Joe Willis
Willis has filled in for Deric wonderfully this season and true to backup goalkeepers' nature in MLS, he has gone completely overlooked by almost everyone. He's a cheaper alternative to Johnson/MacMath and has shown he can start for a team with causing little worry. At $94,500, any team would benefit from having Willis in goal.
4. Alec Kann
Kann has been in the league for a while but it wasn't until last year that the mustached custodian finally got his first start. Now he's picked up seven starts for Sporting Kansas City and at $63,000, a team could roll the dice with ease. He'd most likely be a strong number two in the goalkeeper chart, with a chance at pushing for the starting spot like he's done with SKC.
5. Travis Worra
Worra continues to defy the odds. Undrafted out of college, he's played for DC now thirteen times. Granted, he's not completely polished, but at $53,000, the expansions teams aren't going to find a better rate for someone who's played as much as Worra has. He'll be a work in the making but could easily pay off.
Five other names to keep an eyes on
6. Cody Cropper - $70,000-90,000 - We don't know what Cropper signed for yet but it's doubtful New England brought him in just to lose him in an expansion draft. He's from Minnesota, so heading there makes sense on paper. Hypothetically a deal could be made between the two teams to benefit both sides, like how Portland covered a lot of Donovan Ricketts' contract when Orlando selected him.
7. Ryan Meara - $75,200 - Meara is most likely not going anywhere but to be fair, there were rumors of RBNY trying to trade him last SuperDraft. Robles still has time with the Red Bulls and Meara may be eyeing a starting spot somewhere else.
8. John McCarthy - $79,000 - McCarthy clearly appreciates being at Philadelphia but Philadelphia are committed to Andre Blake. If McCarthy is looking out, this would be his shot.
9. Brad Stuver - $63,000 - If either team has done their homework, they'll know Stuver is more than a competent backup. He's worked with Canadian goalkeeping legend Pat Onstad in a very tough system at Columbus and should be able to translate to another team with ease.
10. Jeff Attinella - $90,000 - It's not clear how much time Rimando has left but it can't be long. Attinella knows this and will be given a shot at starting for RSL in a year or two at most. If Attinella wants out, Atlanta or Minnesota could use him but it'll be a gamble leaving a mostly-sure situation with RSL.