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Columbus Crew SC announces protected list for the MLS expansion draft

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There are some surprises in who the Black & Gold left unprotected.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-New York City at Columbus Crew Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC announced Sunday the team’s list of protected players for the upcoming MLS expansion draft. The Black & Gold picked the 11 players who will not be available for selection to the Los Angeles Football Club next Tuesday, when the expansion franchise will be granted five selections from current MLS rosters.

Crew SC’s protected list has goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Harrison Afful and Lalas Abubakar, midfielders Artur, Mohammed Abu, Wil Trapp, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram, Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Santos and forward Ola Kamara. Homegrown players Alex Crognale and Ben Swanson were automatically protected.

That leaves goalkeepers Brad Stuver and Logan Ketterer, defenders Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Waylon Francis, Jukka Raitala, Gaston Sauro and Connor Maloney, midfielders Hector Jimenez, Niko Hansen, Rodrigo Saravia, Abuchi Obinwa, Marshall Hollingsworth and Cristian Martinez and forward Adam Jahn all available for LAFC.

The most surprising names in the unprotected list are Jonathan and Williams, who were starters for Crew SC in the center back positions at the end of the 2017 season. Jimenez, who was head coach’s Gregg Berhalter primary option for the left back spot for the later part of the season and is a California-native, is also available.

LA can pick one Columbus player in the upcoming expansion draft.

In 2016, Crew SC lost one player in the expansion draft as midfielder Mohammed Saeid was picked by Minnesota United.