Seattle Sounders FC will move a long way toward shaping the look of their first roster today when announce the names of the 10 players they have selected in the MLS expansion draft.
There is plenty of talent to choose from for the Sounders as general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson (and soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid) will have the task of selecting 10 players from the large pool of talent left exposed by MLS teams on Monday.
So what should we consider when trying to figure out who the Sounders will look for? Consider the players Seattle already has under contract (Kasey Keller, Freddie Ljungberg, Sebastian LeToux and Sanna Nyassi) and you figure Seattle will try to focus on defensive depth and some forward prospects.
Here is SBI's prediction of the 10 players Seattle will be taking in today's expansion draft (set for 1pm ET):
NATE JAQUA (Houston Dynamo)
League sources have told SBI that this one is a done deal and Jaqua will be going to Seattle. A good target striker who could benefit from playing alongside Ljungberg and LeToux, Jaqua also has ties to the Pacific Northwest as an Oregon native.
BRAD EVANS (Columbus Crew)
If Schmid is providing input into this selection then look for Evans to get the nod. Evans was a real revelation for the Crew this past season and his modest salary makes him even more appealing to a Seattle team already carrying Freddie Ljungberg's designated player slot. Eddie Gaven seems like an enticing pick as well, but Evans makes a fraction of Gaven's salary and there are other wing options for Seattle.
BRANDON PRIDEAUX (Chicago Fire)
You can never have too many solid veteran defenders and Prideaux proved to be that for the Fire in 2008. Yes, he is 32, but he can step right in and start at right back. It also doesn't hurt that he's a Washingto native. Seattle could also look toward central defender C.J. Brown or forward Calen Carr, especially if it chooses to grab another right back like Lawson Vaughn or Chris Leitch.
MICHAEL RANDOLPH (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Seattle wants players who have shown an ability to start in MLS, but who make modest wages. Randolph qualifies and could give Seattle a quality young left back prospect. He also has past ties to the Pacific Northwest, having played for the Portland Timbers.
JOHANN SMITH (Toronto FC)
You can't teach speed and Seattle could very well turn to arguably the fastest player in MLS by grabbing Smith, a left winger with plenty of promise. Even if Seattle wouldn't plan on keeping Smith, there is certainly interest in the former U.S. Under-20 player from other teams in MLS.
JORGE FLORES (Chivas USA)
With Sanna Nyassi and Johann Smith on board, it wouldn't seem to make much sense to pick-up Flores, despite the great promise he showed last season, but this would be a pick for a trade. If the Sounders weren't looking to deal Flores, then it could turn to veteran striker Ante Razov, who played collegiately for Schmid, though his price tag might be an issue.
KEVIN HARTMAN (Kansas City)
With Kasey Keller signed, and USL standout Chris Eylander set to become his understudy, the last thing Seattle needs is goalkeeping. Right? Well, this is true, but goalkeeper is fast becoming a thin position in MLS and Seattle will find no shortage of takers for Hartman, one of the league's best veteran goalkeepers. In fact, if you package Flores and Hartman, Seattle just might have the makings of a package to acquire Cuban striker Maykel Galindo from Chivas USA. Galindo played for the USL Sounders before moving to MLS. Now, if Seattle decides against trying to grab Hartman for a trade, the Sounders could certainly look to young defender Tyson Wahl, who impressed this year.
PAT PHELAN (New England)
Young, talented, versatile and cheap. Those are four qualities Seattle wants to find in at least some of its expansion draft picks and Phelan fits all of those categories. Capable of playing in central defense or as a defensive midfielder, Phelan could certainly challenge for a starting role in 2009.
MIKE PETKE (Colorado Rapids)
Finding a veteran centerback to lead the back-line is always important for an expansion team and Petke fits that bill. He turns 33 in January but has been the picture of reliability throughout his career. Before last season, when he was sidelined due to foot surgery, Petke had played in at least 24 games for 10 straight seasons. A smart and physical player who is also capable of heading home the occasional goal, Petke is also out of contract and might be able to be had for a reasonable price.
NATHAN STURGIS (Real Salt Lake)
Before injuries derailed his young career, Sturgis was regarded as a future star. The former U.S. Under-23 player has struggled for two years to stay healthy but just might be a gamble worth taking for Seattle. If the Sounders he isn't worth the risk, don't be surprised to see Seattle grab young and inexpensive midfielder Joe Vide (D.C. United), who impressed as a defensive midfielder late in 2008.
So what might the Seattle lineup look like after these picks? Here is one potential lineup:
What do you think of these picks? How about that lineup? Which players do you think Seattle will take? There are any number of plausible combinations of 10 players Seattle will take, but I think this group has a very good chance of being the group selected. At the very least I think the first four players listed are close to locks to be chosen.
Share your thoughts and your own mock draft selections below.