Justin Mapp vs. SEA

Proper planning

Who's "protected", and who's not?

That's a question that John Hackworth won't have to answer this year - finally.

This offseason marks the first in Union history in which the team or any of Major League Soccer's other 19 clubs will have to participate in an Expansion Draft.

No more lists.

No more speculation.

"It's nice. It means we can plan a little easier, a little better," said Hackworth at Monday's postseason press conference. "We can make some decisions earlier in the offseason, and we've been going through that process already. It'll be interesting, because now we're really looking to make a lot of our own decisions."

In 2009, the Union were on the "receiving" side of the Expansion Draft. Former Uniom manager Peter Nowak and his technical staff (which included Hackworth as an assistant) selected 10 players who would make up the backbone of the very first Union roster.

Sebastien Le Toux proved to be an all-star goal scorer. Alejandro Moreno and Stefani Miglioranzi provided veteran leadership. Jordan Harvey and Andrew Jacobson were regular starters.

But in 2010, the Union were on the other side of the draft. Moreno was scooped up by Portland and ended up at Chivas USA. Promising winger Shea Salinas was selected by Vancouver.

"In the last two years, especially being an expansion franchise, it was hard," said Hackworth. "We lost three players to that process in the last two years."

That third and final player was Justin Mapp, who ended up in Montreal with the expansion Impact.

And when it comes to making a "protected" list, no one wants to be left out. There are psychological and emotional ramifications that come into play when players are essentially left to feel like they're expendable.

That's not an issue this year.

Hackworth also pointed out that the majority of newer clubs in MLS already had an established roster and basic infrastructure from their days in the lower dvisions of American soccer.

"We're a little different as far as expansion clubs, because we didn't have any previous players when we started this," added Hackworth. "It's different from a Seattle, Montreal or Vancouver. It'll be nice (to avoid the Expansion Draft)."

Contact Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com. Follow Kevin on Twitter @PhilUnionKevinK

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