KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ahead of the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft on Friday, Sporting Kansas City released its list of protected players and those eligible for selection by St. Louis City SC.
Seven players — Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Kayden Pierre, John Pulskamp and Kaveh Rad — are automatically protected as Homegrown Players age 25 or younger.
Sporting KC also protected defender Kortne Ford, Logan Ndenbe, Robi Voloder and Graham Zusi; midfielders Gadi Kinda, Erik Thommy and Remi Walter; and forwards Willie Agada, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi and Marinos Tzionis.
That means St. Louis City will have the chance to select from among eight veteran players, including midfielder Roger Espinoza and goalkeeper Tim Melia along with centerbacks Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin.
Espinoza played the second-most minutes in SKC’s midfield last season, finishing with two goals and four assists. He also led the team with 43 fouls committed.
Melia started 21 games with four shutouts and a 1.65 goals-against average.
Fontas, who was the team's Defensive Player of the Year, and Isimat-Mirin started the majority of Sporting KC’s games, finishing among the top five in minutes last season.
Goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, midfielder Uri Rosell, forward Khiry Shelton and defender Ben Sweat also were left unprotected.
St. Louis City will have the chance to select up to five unprotected players from across MLS during the draft, which takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday. Only one player can be poached from an existing team.
Austin FC, Atlanta United FC, D.C. United, reigning MLS Cup champion LAFC and New York City FC are exempt from the expansion draft after losing players in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft to Charlotte FC.
While Kansas City has dubbed itself the Soccer Capital of America, St. Louis City has branded its home city as America’s First Soccer Capital.