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The $64,000 question: Whom do you protect?

(Or, given WPS salaried, maybe the $30,000 question.)

Going into the expansion draft, the Freedom can protect no more than ten players. So whom should they be?

Some are slam-dunks: Wambach, McLeod, Bompastor, De Vanna.

Some are solid: Sauerbrunn, Whitehill.

But then you get into the players who are good but not outstanding, and you can only keep four of them (and apparently three if the Freedom want to keep the rights to Louisa Necib): Huffman, Krieger, Lindsey, Long, Moros, Sawa.

Which two or three are you willing to part with? I hung Sawa and Long out on my list out of loyalty to our W-Leaguers, but that's more of an emotional reaction than a rational one.

Re: The $64,000 question: Whom do you protect?

Hi Star City - I don't think who to protect is a huge issue for the Freedom. This team doesn't have much depth - I'm not having your W-League sentimentality issues .

I agree with most of your calls, but think Sawa is a no brainer keep. Gabarra hasn't figured out to use her, but he will, or she'll just assert herself more. She remains one of the best players on the planet - that she hasn't shined in this league is more Gabarra's failure than hers. She's not being used right . . . Gabarra has had trouble planning to the strengths of those who weren't on the W-League team all year. If the Freedom are going to be more than a middle of the pack team, he's got to trash that W-League stuff - he's got much more talented players now, everyone else does as well. He must game plan for it accordingly.

My 10 kept: Wambach, Whitehill, Sauerbrunn, Sawa, McLeod, DeVanna (so long as she wants to come back next year), Krieger, Huffman (she doesn't get dumped just because she was hurt - she's one of the most talented players on this roster), Bompastor, Necib (so long as she indicates she wants to come over here - if there's no commitment, then give up the rights and put Moros on the list).

I'm dumping Long - I realize Jimmy G won't dump Long, don't know why he lets her get away with playing the half hearted way she does, but he does . . .

As for Lindsey - I'd gamble they're not going to take her in expansion. She's pushing 30, not tremendously athletic at this point in her career. Tremendous glue player and extremely valuable to the Freedom, but she's not who an expansion team is going to want to build around. I might be wrong about that, but I'd take the chance. She's the first player I'd pull back after the first Freedom player is poached though.

Did I forget someone? I feel like I'm forgetting someone really important - I feel like I was able to protect too many players because this is relatively painless.

That I'm not even tempted to keep a wing really highlights what a trouble spot that is for the Freedom.

Should be interesting. I think it's going to be relatively painless for the Freedom though.

B.

Re: The $64,000 question: Whom do you protect?

Here's the official list (courtesy of Mr. Goff at the POST):

Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill, Ali Krieger, Homare Sawa, Lisa De Vanna, Sonia Bompastor, Erin McLeod, Sarah Huffman, Becky Sauerbrunn and Allie Long

Only difference from your list is Long instead of Necib, and that just may be the way the rules about the expansion draft have been set up.

I'm mostly concerned about losing Lori Lindsey or Rebecca Moros. I'd rather not lose Alex Singer, but we can do without her. (We can do without any of them, of course, but I hate to lose players who've been such contributors to the team over the years.)

I agree that we need at least one high-quality flank defender. Anyone like that in this year's senior class?

Re: The $64,000 question: Whom do you protect?

I knew he'd protect Long, I just wouldn't have - no clue what's going on there, but the work rate of that player is awful - no clue why Mr. Gabarra allows it.

Disappointing to lose Lindsey. I like the way the Philly coach is building though. A couple of young strikers (A-Rod and Larkin) and then you get Lindsey as a stabilizer for them and someone who will be able to feed them all day long. Now they made a deal for Allison Falk. They're doing well.

As for wing defenders - honestly, I"m sitting here watching my second game of the year and haven't see any notable wings yet (watched PSU-MSU - get well soon Lauren Sinacola; now sitting here watching ND-WVU). Next year, I would convert Lauren Fowlkes of ND back to a defender and I'd take her in a second (those ND players know how to play and she can play any position on the field), but she's just a junior so not an option.

I'd like to see a couple of last year's top wings get a shot to play - Greer Barnes was a practice squad player (or whatever they call it - developmental player, I think) so she should be fair game. I think she'd be an upgrade on what we've got. And then there's Emily Zurer - too lazy to look up whether she was hurt last year and that's why she wasn't in the league or whether no one wanted to use an international slot on her - well, the Freedom played all year with an international slot open - if she's healthy, she's another option.

I've got a lot of games on the DVR - I'll keep on looking for some wings . . . but honestly, if the Freedom don't make a run at Heather Mitts, they're fools. Good for the gate, fit, fast, heck of a defender by any standards. No clue why they didn't re-sign her in Boston unless they were simply concerned about cutting costs.

B.