Today is the day.
The Expansion Draft is finally upon us. We have less than eight hours until the big occasion where Charlotte will be drafting five players from other MLS teams.
In the meantime, let’s have a little fun and discuss some interesting available picks that I think could help Charlotte FC right out of the gates.
This year’s Expansion Draft is loaded with quality players, so narrowing it down to five was difficult. The selections I made were not necessarily the best available five, but rather a curated assortment of players that I think could be good fits for the Club.
All these picks are completely my opinion, so you can grill me on my Twitter later. It’s nearly impossible to predict a team’s picks, but that’s what makes MLS in general fun to follow.
Bring on the unpredictability.
Stuart Findley (Philadelphia Union)
What’s important for a possession-based, attacking play style? A ball-playing center back, and Findley happens to be one. He is a strong and mobile center back who is comfortable in possession and has a decent passing range.
It's hard to blame him for lack of playing time this season with one of the best center back duos in the league in Philadelphia’s Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliot playing ahead of him.
Oh, and did I mention he’s left-footed?
A left-footed, ball-playing center back is a rare and highly valued commodity nowadays. So, to be able to acquire one without having to pay a transfer fee? Tempting.
Jesús Medina (New York City FC)
The highest profile of my picks, Medina is an ex-Designated Player who is fresh off winning MLS Cup. The Club has yet to sign any wingers and so he would most likely immediately slot in as a starter.
Medina has just had the best season of his NYCFC career and played a key part in their MLS Cup winning run. He’s a direct winger that likes to play on the right side to be able to cut onto his stronger left where he’s capable of scoring some wicked goals.
His left foot isn’t only useful for shooting; he can whip in accurate crosses and take threatening set pieces with it too. On top of it all, he’s MLS proven, which in and of itself is a huge selling point.
Now, if you’re thinking, Caleb, this sounds too good to be true. You’re right.
There is a caveat that could make drafting Medina a potentially risky move. His contract option was declined, which would mean he wouldn’t be guaranteed to be a CLTFC player if drafted. The Club would have to negotiate with him a new contract which could end up never working out.
Just ask Austin FC... Last year, they drafted Joe Corona, who was out of contract with the LA Galaxy, and were unable to agree to terms with him and lost him to the Re-Entry Draft.
Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution)
Now on the opposite end of the spectrum from risk is Scott Caldwell. He’s as safe of a draft pick as you can get.
A 9-year MLS veteran that has racked up over 250 MLS appearances in his career, Caldwell is more than familiar with league. His role in New England would be the same as the one he would have at Charlotte FC.
Playing predominately as a defensive midfielder, he’d be used as a late substitute to close out games or fill in for injuries. He’s hardworking, reliable, and a leader.
Caldwell is known for mentoring and taking young players coming into the Revs under his wing. Young players are something Charlotte has plenty of.
At the end of the day, Caldwell is a leader and a player who gets the job done wherever and whenever it is needed.
Marlon Hairston (Columbus Crew)
For every roster, having a player or two that can fill multiple positions is always valuable for increasing depth across the various positions.
Hairston is a utility player who has played over 135 MLS games. He has a versatile skillset that has allowed him to play across several different positions throughout his career.
He’s played everywhere on the right flank, along with as a box-to-box and holding midfielder. Having experience in both the fullback and midfield positions could be useful for a head coach who has a history of utilizing inverted fullbacks.
Not that it really matters much, but pretty cool nonetheless, Hairston has played in Charlotte previously on a brief loan stint with the Charlotte Independence in 2015.
Juan Agudelo (Minnesota United)
Yet another MLS veteran, Agudelo is still at the prime age of 29 years old but has already notched 242 MLS appearances. Throughout his career, he’s played across the front three positions but is best utilized as a center forward.
He’s a complete striker that can play off the shoulder of defenders or drop down to link up play. He’s also a hard worker who will press and do the dirty work a lot of other strikers maybe won’t.
He wouldn't be the starter but because he has a skillset that could fit with Coach Ramírez’s game model, he could prove to be useful as a solid backup striker.
Agudelo is another low-risk option that would bring a wealth of MLS experience to a current roster that doesn’t have much of it.
We all have our predictions and trades could throw a wrench into everything, but we will have to continue to live with the uncertainty of who Charlotte FC will draft for just a little longer.
The speculation will finally end tonight, so tune in at 7 p.m. ET for the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft live on WSOC, Telemundo, and livestreamed at CharlotteFootballClub.com.