Major League Soccer’s newest club, St. Louis CITY SC, further bolstered their inaugural roster with five picks in Friday’s Expansion Draft.
The Expansion Draft is a valuable mechanism for every new MLS club to add precious experience and quality at a fraction of the usual cost.
So, how did St. Louis take advantage of the opportunity? Let’s take a look at their picks:
Right off the bat, Nicholas Gioacchini stands out as one of the most eye-catching Expansion Draft picks in recent years.
An eight-time US international with experience in the top two French divisions, Gioacchini has all the tools to be a huge success in MLS with speed, skill, and an eye for goal.
Sure, the forward’s move to Orlando City just four months ago didn’t go to plan, with Gioacchini making only six MLS appearances. However, at just 22 years old, he has plenty of time to get back on track and could quickly become a key player for St. Louis.
After a successful first year on loan from Aston Villa, Inter Miami worked hard to make sure they brought Indiana Vassilev back for the 2022 season. His second campaign in Florida was a little more modest with just two goals in 25 appearances (13 starts).
That said, Vassilev has plenty of quality on both sides of the ball, as well as extensive experience as a US youth international. There’s potential for huge value here.
The only snag is Vassilev was only on loan at Inter Miami, meaning St. Louis must now negotiate a deal with Aston Villa.
Jon Bell has been a solid depth piece at center-back for the New England Revolution over the last couple of years, backing up Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell.
The Maryland native made 29 appearances across two seasons and was part of the Revs’ record-setting Supporters’ Shield win in 2021.
However, at 25 years old, it’s time for Bell to become a regular starter. St. Louis might just offer him the chance to show MLS what he’s fully capable of.
Following a couple of years at FC Dallas, John Nelson enjoyed a solid season with FC Cincinnati in 2022, playing 24 times and providing two assists in MLS play.
The 24-year-old will likely come in as back-up to Bosnia & Herzegovina international Selmir Pidro. However, Nelson certainly has the quality to pick up plenty of regular starts himself, should Pidro need time to adjust to MLS.
Young winger Jake LaCava was picked from the New York Red Bulls before St. Louis immediately traded him to Inter Miami.
Both clubs win in this situation, with St. Louis picking up a minimum of $150k in General Allocation Money (GAM), with a further $100k GAM due should certain performance metrics be hit. Miami, meanwhile, have paid a much smaller fee for a talented young winger.
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