The Reds announced the 11 players they would protect for Tuesday’s expansion draft, when new franchises in Minnesota and Atlanta select five players each from a pool of 259 players. Toronto can not lose more than one player.
Among the players left exposed are goalkeeper Clint Irwin, defender Steven Beitashour and midfielder Will Johnson, off-season pickups a year ago who were key to honing a winning culture at the once-maligned club.
“When you bring these guys in and you see how they act in practice, they never want to lose,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said last week. “The other guys see that and it’s just contagious. [A winning mentality] starts from them coming in and everyone else just learning that and breathing that in, day in, and day out.”
“You look at myself, Will Johnson, Steven Beitashour; there are some MLS Cups in there, there are some Supporters Shields in there. People that understand the grinds of [Major League Soccer], people that understand what it takes to win,” he said.
“That’s not saying we’re personally all great players. That’s saying we’ve been through it before and we understand the culture and we’ve been in a locker room that’s been successful.”
Other players available Tuesday include goalkeeper Quillan Roberts; defenders Mark Bloom, Clement Simonin and Josh Williams; midfielders Benoit Cheyrou and Daniel Lovitz; and forwards Mo Babouli and Tosaint Ricketts.
The most likely candidates for selection are Bloom and Williams. Both defenders offer experience, are paid reasonable salaries and neither would cost either Minnesota or Atlanta an international spot. Irwin, arguably the biggest name on the 259-person list, is also a contender given his reputation as a young, reliable shot stopper.
The Reds were also busy with paperwork Monday, exercising the contract options of keepers Irwin, Bloom and Alex Bono; defenders Moor, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta; midfielders Jonathan Osorio, Armando Cooper, Jay Chapman and Tsubasa Endoh; and forwards Ricketts, Babouli and Jordan Hamilton.