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Orlando City select Ricketts, NYC FC take Grabavoy in MLS Expansion Draft

DonovanRickettsPortlandTimbers1-FCDallas2014 (USATODAYSports)

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports


Orlando City made a big and somewhat surprising splash on Wednesday.

With the first overall selection in the MLS Expansion Draft, Orlando chose Portland Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, a selection that few experts saw coming. Ricketts joins Tally Hall to make up one of the league’s strongest goalkeeping corps, and is likely to be the starter from Day 1 as Hall continues to recover from injury.

New York City FC kicked off their Expansion Draft by selecting Real Salt Lake’s Ned Grabavoy, who played under NYC FC head coach Jason Kreis between 2009-2013 when the latter was in Salt Lake.

Other highlights from the Expansion Draft include NYC FC selecting New England Revolution rookie Patrick Mullins, New York natives Jason Hernandez, Thomas McNamara, and Chris Wingert, and centerback George John, who missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury.

Orlando City, meanwhile, took two forwards in Jairo Arrieta and Mark Sherrod, as well as youngsters Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Mwanga, and Tony Cascio. The Lions also selected versatile, veteran defender Heath Pearce.

Just as the draft concluded, reports emerged that Jalil Anibaba, Orlando City’s third round selection, was being sent to Sporting KC as part of the trade that sent Aurelien Collin to Orlando.

Here’s a closer look at all of the selections from the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft:



Orlando City SC – Donovan Ricketts, Portland Timbers

New York City FC – Ned Grabavoy, Real Salt Lake


Orlando City SC – Tony Cascio, Colorado Rapids

New York City FC – Patrick Mullins, New England Revolution


Orlando City SC – Jalil Anibaba, Seattle Sounders

New York City FC – Jason Hernandez, San Jose Earthquakes


Orlando City SC – Pedro Ribeiro, Philadelphia Union

New York City FC – Daniel Lovitz, Toronto FC


Orlando City SC – Lewis Neal, D.C. United

New York City FC – Tony Taylor, New England Revolution


Orlando City SC – Jairo Arrieta, Columbus Crew

New York City FC – Mehdi Ballouchy, Vancouver Whitecaps


Orlando City SC – Heath Pearce, Montreal Impact

New York City FC – George John, FC Dallas


Orlando City SC – Danny Mwanga, Colorado Rapids

New York City FC – Thomas McNamara, D.C. United


Orlando City SC – Mark Sherrod, Houston Dynamo

New York City FC – Sal Zizzo, Sporting Kansas City


Orlando City SC – Eric Gehrig, Columbus Crew

New York City FC – Chris Wingert, Real Salt Lake


What do you think of these selections? Which team had the best draft? Which picks did you like the most?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Real leagues don’t have expansion drafts, they have promotion/relegation. I hope one day the US can get a real league so they don’t have to suffer the embarrassment that is MLS.

  2. RBNY fans all let out a big chuckle when NYCFC selected Blue Cheese. Can’t wait to see him do two step overs and then back pass to the fullback.

    • Yes indeed. That is multiplied by the fact that you have to pay the player the full value on their contract, so you are looking for bargains even though the teams putting players up for the draft are often looking to dump overly expensive contracts.

      • Hence EJ being dangled out there. You think DCU would rather put his paycheck and DP slot to work in some other way? You betcha.

  3. So can someone help me understand why this is even a thing. Why do the new teams get to take players from the existing teams? Is it just because MLS likes to come up with weird stuff to confuse the casual follower of soccer in the US?

    • It’s done to make sure expansion teams are competitive in their first year. Otherwise, starting from scratch, it would be difficult to find 20 MLS-quality players with US citizenship and/or green cards that are not already signed to other teams or leagues. A new expansion team can’t just buy up a bunch of internationals, because there is a limit to how many you can have per team in MLS.

      Without an expansion draft, these new teams would have to find free-agents, USL players, or undrafted college players to make up their team – which mean they would lose the majority of their games for their first year (and maybe longer).

      I like it, it’s a good idea, and other leagues should do it (if they could).

      • LOL other leagues should do it.

        The other leagues are way too well run for that ( sarcasm ).
        Can you imagine ? The 12th and 13th players on RM and Barca get sent to some of the bottom 18 teams….LOL. They might actually have a league !

      • In most leagues, the player’s rights are protected in that a player cannot be moved from one team to another without the player’s consent. In the MLS. a player could be sent from sunny California to snowy Canada without player’s or his family’s consent. The Swiss guy who was sent to DCU midseason last year and his family were quite shell-shocked, when they realized that they have no say and would have to uproot the family and move to a different city during the school year.

      • Yeah it’s exactly what the NFL does for expansion teams.

        There’s really no other country that does it because their teams are never started from scratch and put in the top league.

      • This whole post in this thread is clownish . . . “Can someone help me understtand why this is a thing?” No, probably not if you can’t comprehend the concept of building an expansion team. “other leagues should do it” . . . you mean like every other league in America, which does it? “Can you imagine if Europe did it? Nope, because Rory pointed out, they don’t just create teams in the top tier there.

        PS “Quit Whining About Soccer in the US” said something in another post about having a family in another post, which almost made me think he’s relatable, but in reality, he’s just the nonsense talking troll that all others claim him to be.

  4. No surprises about Kreis taking Grabavoy: for any coach, a trusted midfielder is worth his weight in rubies.

    But I was wrong earlier when I predicted no takes from Sounders.

      • I looked at who else was available from other teams. Several better options.

        Of the unprotected Sounders who saw somewhat regular playing time:

        Anibaba, Jalil
        Azira, Michael
        Cooper, Kenny
        Gonzalez, Leonardo
        Remick, Dylan
        Scott, Zacharias

        Zach would retire immediately (and take a coaching job at SS2), Leo and Kenny are on the old side, Remick is a big question, Anibaba ain’t making any headlines…. I thought Azira was the pick of that bunch until I saw the other midfielders available from other teams.

        Did you think a Sounder would be grabbed? Who?

  5. Both clubs crapped the bed in round three. Anibaba and Jason Hernandez? Then both teams take end of the benchers in mwanga for Orlando and ballouchy for NYCFC. I’d give a slight edge to NY in this draft.

    It’s clear the coaches and GMs for these teams see things very differently than the rest of us.

      • I glossed over that. The Anibaba selection makes sense for Orlando as it was part of the trade for Collin. So far Orlando is showing a good penchant for deals.

      • He’s a project and I sincerely hope he fulfills his potential. He showed flashes as a rookie but he hasn’t been able to impress MLS coaches at three clubs so far. Here’s to hoping he breaks through.

      • He didn’t even impress with NASL this last season . . . but that’s why they are GM’s and we are commenting on a message board. They have cap restrictions to worry about as well.

  6. DCU made out like crazy today. While losing Lewis Neal is kind of a drag, and McNamara was an interesting idea, considering who else they exposed, they have got to be happy. They got to keep Arnaud, Korb, EJ…did any other team expose three guys who started that many games and keep them all? Not to mention Opare, who will only get more important as Boswell gets older and Parke’s situation with injuries remains unclear (and he’s not young either).

    • Us keeping EJ is a curse.

      Arnaud is too old at this point to justify his costs for a new club looking to build beyond their first season.

      I’ve never been a fan of Korb. But I think that’s due to his baby shinguards…


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