After a painfully uneventful first stage a week ago, the MLS Re-Entry Draft returns on Thursday with the second stage.
The same list of players are eligible to be selected, and the same order has been retained, with the Chicago Fire picking first and Minnesota United last. Players who are chosen during the second stage are able to negotiate new deals, unlike those picked in the first stage.
Players qualify for the Re-Entry Draft if they had their contract options declined or were out of contract at the end of 2016. They must also be at least 23 years old with three years of MLS experience or 25 years of age with four years of MLS action under their belts.
Participation in Thursday’s process is also not mandatory, as players can opt out of the process up until the draft begins.
Now that all of the regulations are out of the way, it’s time to look at who is available for the 22 clubs to select on Thursday afternoon. Among the notable names available are Blas Perez, Pedro Morales, Mauro Rosales and Cristian Maidana.
One name to watch throughout the process is goalkeeper Steve Clark, who had his contract option declined by the Columbus Crew. There are a few teams in the league looking for a starting netminder so the American could either be picked up for that purpose or as a trade bait, like Sean Johnson and Jeff Attinella have been used for already this offseason.
Jon Kempin and Andrew Dykstra are cheaper goalkeeper options in the player pool. Kempin rose through the ranks at Sporting Kansas City, while Dykstra filled in admirably for Bill Hamid at D.C. United in 2016.
If a club is looking for a young prospect, Olmes Garcia could end up being a wise choice. The 24-year-old former Real Salt Lake man showed flashes of brilliance up top during his time with the Claret and Cobalt, but never got the chance to develop into a full-time starter behind Joao Plata and others.
Another name to keep an eye on is Michael Stephens. The 27-year-old versatile midfielder was lost in the shuffle a bit in Chicago. Stephens has plenty of MLS experience under his belt from his time with the LA Galaxy and the Fire.
Three players were selected in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft. Dylan Remick was chosen by the Houston Dynamo, Patrick McLain went to Orlando City and Bryan Meredith was selected by the Seattle Sounders.
Kevin Alston and Jermaine Taylor were the only players selected in the second stage of last year’s Re-Entry Draft.
Players Eligible for Re-Entry Draft