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Rumor Ramblings: Naughty, Nice, or Nepotism?

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I explain why trading for Adrian Heath’s son is actually a good move, guess at what could happen in the Expansion Draft, and wish for an experienced midfielder—who’s actually available.

Republican National Convention: Day Two Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

And, just like that, the 2017 Major League Soccer season is over. Toronto FC have capped off their historic season with a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup, so we can now dedicate our full attention to the beautiful beast that is the offseason. The Loons’ first signing of the offseason is slightly controversial, we now know who LAFC could pick in the expansion draft, and I’ll answer some of your questions on Minnesota United’s transfer happenings.

Nepotism? Never...

Harrison Heath was officially announced on Sunday morning. Yes, he is manager Adrian Heath’s son. Yes, they have been at the same club (Orlando City) before. But no, this isn’t a bad move.

Heath was acquired from Atlanta United in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round SuperDraft pick. Atlanta were clearly eager to move him, having declined his contract a few weeks ago.

Heath is an unknown. He’s never really been given a chance at any level, and there isn’t even enough film on him to get a good idea. But frankly, this is a low risk deal.

In last year’s SuperDraft fourth round, in which Minnesota United had the first pick, the Loons selected Tanner Thompson. You might remember the name, but you probably don’t remember what happened to him. Thompson was never even signed by Minnesota, and played the 2017 season with the NASL’s Indy Eleven. Clearly fourth picks aren’t too valuable, or at least are too much of an unknown.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

So which is a bigger gamble: Harrison Heath or a player who may not be signed? Sure, there could be a lucky fourth round pick in 2019, but I’m more inclined to think Heath will be able to contribute more. This move isn’t about finding the next star midfielder or a reliable member of the starting XI, but more likely to add a squad player who may be able to contribute from time to time when called upon.

About that whole nepotism thing: yeah, he’s probably only here—or at least on MNUFC’s radar—because of his father. As long as Adrian isn’t handing him a starting role he doesn’t deserve, this will work out fine.

You’re safe, and you’re safe, but sorry, you might not be here much longer...

Minnesota announced which players would be protected and which would be unprotected for Tuesday’s Expansion Draft. Los Angeles Football Club will select five players (no more than one from any team) on Tuesday. I’m not going to list out which players fall into which category (click on the link above to see that), but I will share my thoughts and predict who (if anyone) from Minnesota will be picked up.

There are five defenders on the protected list: Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Marc Burch, and Jerome Thiesson. This is a little surprising to me. Calvo and Thiesson were obvious decisions, as was either Boxall or Kallman, but Burch is on the older end and replaceable. To be frank, Kallman isn’t the type of player who would be attractive to LAFC, and Boxall probably isn’t either.

Some people are surprised by Ibson and Sam Cronin making the protected list, but I actually think both might’ve looked appealing. They’re both talented midfielders who provide a level of leadership. Would they have been selected? Probably not, but there would have been some interest. I’d like to see Kevin Molino traded, but he, Ethan Finlay, and Christian Ramirez were all obvious protections.

I never thought for a moment that Johan Venegas would be protected. Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press hinted that there might be some interest in Costa Rica for the Tico, but even though he was snagged in last year’s Expansion Draft, he won’t be picked. Collen Warner isn’t a bad player, he just isn’t in the best eleven. The same goes for Rasmus Schuller, who should hopefully get another chance in MLS. Sam Nicholson surprised a lot of people. I wrote in the last Rumor Ramblings that it would come down to either him or Boxall, and it looks to have gone in the favor of the Kiwi. We need to come to terms with the fact that Miguel Ibarra likely won’t suit up for the Loons next season, whether he is traded, sold, or goes in the Expansion Draft.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

So is there a realistic chance that any of these players are taken by LAFC? Ibarra and Nicholson are the most likely to go, Batman being a little more appealing. It will really come down to who is available in other teams. I wouldn’t say that Ibarra is one of the top five players who fall in the unprotected category, but if LAFC are looking for someone like him, the Batsignal may be shining in a different city.

Wishlist #4: Jeff Larentowicz, M, Free Agent

I love this wishlist segment of each column a little too much, because I get super excited about every player who appears in this. Jeff Larentowicz played with Atlanta this past season, but at age 34 is one of the most consistent and experienced midfielders in MLS history. And he’s a free agent. If you haven’t watched that highlight video, watch some of it right now to join me on the hype train. I want to see another midfielder, preferably a number 8 like Larentowicz, added, and here’s a free agent we could look at. Free agency begins at 2pm CT on Tuesday (one hour after the Expansion Draft).