Defender Jalil Anibaba was the only Seattle Sounders FC player selected Wednesday in the Major League Soccer expansion draft used to stock Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
“It’s hard to lose Jalil,” Seattle sporting director Chris Henderson said. “It’s hard in any of these to lose a player. We were expecting to lose two players, so in that respect it feels like it was a lucky day.”
Anibaba had come to Seattle in January as part of a trade with Chicago that also involved an exchange of draft choices and sent Sounders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni to the Fire.
In his lone season in Seattle, Anibaba appeared in 16 games with 14 starts at central and outside defender. Last week, coach Sigi Schmid had listed him as a possible replacement for right back DeAndre Yedlin, who is expected to transfer to Tottenham of the English Premier League.
Anibaba was taken in the third round of the expansion draft by Orlando City, the fifth pick overall.
After his selection, the Sounders were allowed to protect one additional player from the draft, and they used that on veteran defender Zach Scott.
“We felt for the balance of the team and Zach’s history with the club and everything around Zach Scott, we felt we needed to pull him back,” Henderson said. “We had a feeling he might have been taken. … We’re hoping he can start next year where he finished off this year.”
That decision left available Sounders such as starting left back Leo Gonzalez and part-time 2014 contributors Micheal Azira, Dylan Remick and Kenny Cooper. However, no additional Sounders were selected as the two expansion teams divided a total of 20 picks from among the unprotected lists of the 18 established MLS teams.
Orlando opened the draft by selecting Donovan Ricketts of Portland, the 2013 MLS goalkeeper of the year. New York’s top pick was midfielder Ned Grabavoy of Salt Lake.
The MLS also held a waiver draft Wednesday, but the Sounders passed.
The first phase of the MLS re-entry draft will be held Friday.